Bonus Baby Blueprint: Navigating Parenthood As An “Other”

Last week I shared a picture of my bonus daughter and myself on my personal Instagram. I captioned it, “Having a bonus baby has been a crazy ride. There are times when I feel like we’re not connecting. There are times when I get frustrated. There are times when I question whether she truly knows how much I see her as my own child. & then there are times like tonight, when she gives me a hug before bed & tells me she loves me before I get to say it to her… My heart smiles & I know that we’re navigating this journey together. I really couldn’t ask for a better kid than her.

Nowadays it seems like we all have either dated someone with a kid or have a friend who has. It seems to me that it’s seen as such a negative thing (to each their own), but it doesn’t have to be. I honestly said I would never date anyone with a kid. Well folks, here I am.. dating someone with a whole kid!

I’ve had a bonus baby for the past 7 years (I’ve known her for her whole life though) and it has definitely been something. There have been some pretty serious lows in my journey but the highs are so much greater, so it’s worth it. In the beginning, I was just friends with her dad, but I love kids so she stole my heart easily. Once my relationship with her father transitioned into something more serious, I knew we had to talk about this bright-eyed toddler and how all of it would effect her.

Over the years, I have always fought this internal battle of what type of role I wanted to play in her life. I have cried because I felt like we would never have a relationship. I have felt pissed because in my mind it would just be easier for everyone if I was her mom. I have smiled because her dad told me that I was better with her than he could’ve ever imagined.

I remember feeling like she didn’t like me a couple summers ago. That summer was TOUGH! I felt like every night I was having a talk with her dad and questioning whether I was overstepping or simply not doing enough. I’ve always felt like we’re in this weird space of being friends because I don’t ever want her to think I’m replacing her mom, and me being authoritative because kids need structure.

Every summer that she comes to stay, so much has changed and we all have to get reacquainted. She’s always growing physically but she’s also growing as a person. This year we have entered the pre-teen stage. You would think that after all these years I would feel completely comfortable correcting her but that’s not the case. I have my moments where I want to say something but then I end up saying, “Ask your dad” or “Wait for dad to get home”, just because I don’t want to be viewed as the evil stepmother.

Let’s face it, all those childhood stories painted the stepmothers in a negative light.

Quite frankly, I just want her to like me. I know she loves me but I want her to enjoy spending time with me and I want us to have a good relationship. I’m always scared that she’ll pull away as she gets older because her mother and I don’t have a relationship and she’ll feel like she has to choose. I never want her to have to feel like that. I want her to always know that she has a bonus mom who loves her as much as her actual mom does. I want her to know that even if things didn’t work out with her dad, she’ll always be my bonus baby. I want her to always feel comfortable coming to me about anything. I want her to know that I’m always going to love her no matter what.

It’s crazy how kids have this sixth sense about reassuring you or making you feel at ease when things are challenging. As a family, we had a rough week a little while ago and I honestly thought she was going to tell her dad she wanted to go home. So I made sure that her and I had some one on one time. I made a hair appointment for the both of us, we went out to get funnel cakes, I put on makeup and let her wear some of my lipgloss, and we went outside and had a photo-shoot. Afterwards, her energy was so high. I hadn’t seen her smile that much all week. A couple days later she said, “Is it okay if I call you mom? You’re basically like my mom anyway”. This was a few days after I miscarried so she has no idea how much she warmed my heart. I could’ve cried.

Now, we had a discussion about what she could call me instead of mom but I told her that she could call me whatever she felt comfortable with. The thing is, as much as I would LOVE for her to call me mom, she already has one and I would never want to replace her. It just lifted my spirits to know that she loves me as much as I love her.

Having a bonus child is filled with many rocky waters, but it’s a lot of smooth sailing too. Ultimately, it’s just important that everyone involved puts the child’s happiness and safety before their own. Knowing that my girl is happy and knows how much she is loved by the three of us, brings me a sense of peace.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who has a kid(s) or even if you’re the one who’s the biological parent in the blended family, my advice is this: COMMUNICATE. Talk to your partner and find out what their expectations are. Talk to the other parent (if you’re able to) and find out what their boundaries are. Last but not least, talk to the child(ren). Don’t force the relationship though, let it happen naturally.

Remember:

Until next time; Be YOU. Do YOU. LOVE YOU💜

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