My stepson, Preston, had a birthday recently. He turned five and we celebrated with presents, cake and ice cream. His Dad, my wife’s ex-husband, was coming over along with my father in law. Now, there was a time when the idea of my wife’s ex coming over here, and staying for awhile, would have bothered me. Sometimes, I suppose, it still does, but, for the most part, I’m over that.
Marrying someone who has children from a previous marriage carries along a certain amount of baggage and a ton of patience. The interests of that child ALWAYS has to be first, no matter what you and the ex think of each other. I know I am not this man’s best friend. I don’t even know if he considers me a friend or not. I think if circumstances were different, we could be very good friends and, maybe someday, we will be. For now, I think it is tolerance of each other. I am not sure. Tenuous, yes. Hatred, no…not on my part anyway and I don’t think he hates me either. I don’t hate the guy. Not at all. I don’t agree with everything, but I respect what he does (he’s a counselor and has seen and dealt with things I probably would be unable to cope with) and respect the fact that he is a Dad, Preston’s Dad. I think we’ve gotten past the early distrust and, now, we even help each other. He took it upon himself to prop up our fence. Neither myself nor my wife asked him to do that. I’m sure he had Preston in mind, but, nonetheless, he did help us (a tree had fallen on the fence during one of our freaky snow storms…several inches fell, but was all gone in a day. Typical, for this part of Virginia.)
Sometimes, being the stepfather is hard. Seeing the disappointment on Preston’s face when his Dad leaves and I’m still here. Being only five now, he doesn’t understand. Someday, he will.
Preston and I get along great and we have fun, but I’m not his Dad and he knows that. I try to comfort him, in times like that, but his mother usually is the one who gets him calm and relaxed. I’m still learning how to do that.
Discipline is another tricky and slippery slope. When both Mom and Dad are around, I will usually defer to one of them when it comes to correcting Preston. Of course, sometimes I have to interject and that’s OK. When it is just myself and my wife, I do correct him. Even so, we have different ideas as to how to do that. Sometimes my way works, sometimes its hers. We learn together.
Our situation is unique and I am glad that Preston’s father is the way he is…making Preston the focus and working with us and not against us. I’ve seen how nasty things like this can get and it is the children that lose in the end.
Preston is fortunate in that he has three parents who do love him. I think of him as my own, but I would never stand in between him and his Dad. A father-son relationship is very special, I would be the last person on the planet to interfere with that.