Must we turn into our own (step )parents?

The Kid, The Huz, and me, summer 2013.  Photo by the author.

The Kid, The Huz, and me, summer 2013.
Photo by the author.

By Sacha Brady

I grew up in a broken home—my parents were divorced and how my childhood played out damaged my spirit. My father remarried, my parents battled in a nasty and prolonged custody fight, my mother remarried and moved away after she lost custody, and my step-mother raised me as the second parent on the scene. The two women role models I had competed with each other through me for the Mommy title.

“The two women role models I had competed with each other through me for the Mommy title.”

Then I fell in love with a man who has a daughter. His daughter is smart and kind and funny. His ex-wife may have been all those things too but those weren’t the qualities she shared with me at the time. He and she were still quite enmeshed before I became a serious presence and that was a big difficulty in our burgeoning relationship. A new order was in order and it wasn’t going to be easy. Bonds were questioned, boundaries were tested, and old agreements no longer applied.

As things became a dramatic mess between the man who is now The Huz and his ex-wife, friends and coworkers warned me of the risk of getting involved. They were thinking about the man. I was too but I was also thinking about his daughter. I saw a lot of myself in The Kid, which made empathizing all too easy. Nobody saw the real risk, which was how would I handle being in a role that brought about such strong, conflicting emotions for me? Would I be able to balance, in a healthy way, seeing myself in The Kid plus seeing the only mother figures I knew in me? Would I be able to give her the healthy childhood I wished I had? Would I overcome instinct to develop a conscious parenting style?

“Nobody saw the real risk, which was how would I handle being in a role that brought about such strong, conflicting emotions for me?”

I think I’m doing it right—The Kid loves me, The Ex communicates with me cordially, and The Huz is still glad to have me around. I wouldn’t give any of it back.

I am always blown away by how the organizers and participants of the Spirit & Place Festival find such creative ways to discuss and engage each year’s theme. I don’t think being a step-parent will be one of the ventures covered in the many discussions on RISK at the 18th annual festival, taking place November 1‒10, 2013, but I’ll be happy to chat about it with you should you bump into me there.

Sacha Brady is a displaced East Coaster living in the Midwest. She was born and raised in South Philly and moved to Indianapolis in 2000. She met her Hoosier husband on eHarmony in 2006 and they have been inseparable ever since. Along with her amazing step-daughter she is also raising two mutts that are obnoxiously needy. Follow her hijinks on Twitter, where she overshares as @zigged.

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2 thoughts on “Must we turn into our own (step )parents?

  1. Pingback: Must we turn into our (step-)parents? A guest post for #SPindy. | Ever zigged when you should have zagged?

  2. Pingback: December 8: Share Your Creation | Ever zigged when you should have zagged?

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