I don’t like to think of myself as a selfish parent, I try to do the best by my children, both biological and step, and I try to put their needs first. However, I am aware that I also focus on my own needs, and what I need my children to be for me as well as what I need to be for them.
The Boy and I have one child each from our previous marriages, Miss Rose and Z, and one child together, Baby B.
Z is a very self sufficient little boy. He doesn’t require much emotional input from the adults in his life as he is perfectly secure and doesn’t need the reassurance of his value. He’s happy in himself. In turn, The Boy doesn’t need reassurance that he’s valued as a parent, and doesn’t expect Z to boost his parenting ego or be anything for him. The Boy focusses his parenting on what the child needs him to be.
Rose is a very emotionally needy little girl. She’s a bleeding heart. Everything about her screams “LOVE ME!”. She is incredibly empathetic and finds pain in others to be very distressing, but also finds happiness in others to be intoxicating. She will throw herself with her whole heart into anything someone else loves in the desperate hope they will see her as a kindred spirit and love her for it. The Boy loves Liverpool, so Rose is passionate about Liverpool. I, in turn, am emotionally needy of her. I need the her to be for me what I am for her; the promise that we are loved and valued.
If for some reason The Boy is asleep in our bed without me there, he just stays in bed alone. If I am asleep in our bed without The Boy there, the first thing I do when I head up to bed is steal Rose from her bed and put her in with me. She doesn’t need to be there, she’s happily asleep in her own bed, but I need her with me. I feel safe with her there.
We both understand our own biological children. Z gets obsessed with what he’s obsessed with, because it speaks to him. Rose gets obsessed with what someone else is obsessed with, because it gives her a way to connect. Z doesn’t mind if nobody else understand him, as long as they accept him and leave him be. Rose needs other people to understand her so they can love her, because she needs love.
The Boy’s parenting style crosses over well into parenting Miss Rose. He is what she needs him to be. She needs him to embrace her involvement in the things he loves, so he celebrates Liverpool goals with her, he embraces her in huge cuddles before he leaves the house and promises he’ll return, he constantly reassures her that he loves her.
My parenting style does not cross well into parenting Z because I have no idea what I’m doing without the reassurance of the emotional response. I am needy. I need to be celebrated and cuddled and loved and that’s not Z’s nature, so I don’t get it. So I get confused and anxious and worried. I worry that I’m a terrible step mother and that he hates me. I get upset about it, but for me as much as for him. I’m upset that I’m not good enough, as much as I’m upset that he is being let down. Of course, The Boy reassures me it’s not like that at all and he’s just chilled out, but I’m a big needy mess sometimes and worry constantly.
I do not have that selfless parenting nature that The Boy so naturally has. And I feel incredibly guilty about that. I’d love to be able to just switch off that emotional neediness but I don’t know how.
Had Z been my biological child I don’t know how I’d have coped without the input I depend on from Rose. In some ways it’d have been easier because Rose is SUCH an open wound that she feels EVERYTHING incredibly deeply, and the slightest pain is absolutely agonising to her as much as the slightly joy is ecstasy. Z is much easier as he tends to just bob along in neutral and not let the little things bother him either way. But I’m too needy, I’d have struggled. I’d have craved the desperate joyful hug on reunion, I’d have needed the cuddle and kiss goodbye and the promise I’d be missed.
So it worked out really well that our biological children so naturally fit our own parenting style so well.
So then there’s the question of Baby B.
Will she be one of the bleeding heart desperate for love ones, or will she be one of the satisfied in her own skin and not need boosting from others ones?
If she’s like me and Rose I’ll find it much easier, I’ll understand her and she’ll give me what I need to be happy as a mother. If she’s not I’ll have to learn to adjust because I don’t want to try and force her to fit a mold she doesn’t naturally fall into. I don’t want to be so emotionally needy that I do her harm in demanding she gives me what I want, even if it puts her in a position she’s not happy in.
I need to learn to be self sufficient like Z. I need to learn to be selfless in my parenting style like The Boy. Because right now the idea of Baby B not crawling into my lap for goodbye cuddles every time I leave the building breaks my heart, and I know just how much Z would hate it if anyone tried to force him to do that. And I don’t want to put that on Baby B because it would be cruel.
So I am going to try and learn to be more of a selfless mother. My needs do not matter, theirs do. That’s a mantra I must learn to live by for the happiness of my children. Their needs, not mine. Their needs, not mine.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!