Stepping Up

Being a stepdad is the most difficult, most rewarding thing I’ve ever undertaken. I never really thought much about it before… but it’s an uphill battle. Kids naturally want their “real” dad. That relationship, at least from the young child perspective, is automatic. It’s also been a massive change to simply have a child at all. I spent 33 years without a kid, and now I have an 8 year old.

Being a parent is WAY different from how I was living before. It’s good different. I’m certainly not complaining, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But wow… so much of my daily routine is completely changed now. For example, I used to walk around naked and think nothing of it. I can’t do that now unless I want to irreparably scar a child. I used to lay around doing hardly anything, now I hardly ever lay around doing nothing. I used to sleep till 8:30 AM (at least) every single weekday, and 10 or 11 AM on the weekend. I haven’t slept past 7 AM in 2012 (except for yesterday, man I was tired). I used to watch 4-5 hours of TV a day. I would estimate I watch 20-40 minutes of TV on average. Many days it’s none.

The point is, I was basically living a selfish, lazy life. And you can’t do either of those if you’re a dad. And honestly, that was no way to live. I was miserable. I want more kids. I’m confident of that. I know that eventually I’ll be a good dad or die trying. And I am sure this new lifestyle will become “the norm” to me. Nicole had a 7 year head start on getting used to the parent lifestyle, and I must say she’s incredible at it. She’s the most loving, patient, giving mom you could ever meet. She never puts herself first. That’s her normal. She’s been very patient with me as well while I get used to (and find) my role in this new little family.

Being a stepdad means taking on all of the care, love, support, discipline, and relationship of a biological dad, without having ANY clue how to do it, and not wanting to “blow up” the poor kid’s normal – she didn’t choose me… Nicole did. I want to follow my wife’s lead as to how she parents, because I love her and I believe she’s a great mom. But it’s all very different from how I was raised, and so my natural tendencies as a new parent are to revert to those things. But you can’t just thrust a whole new paradigm on an 8 year old. That’s very unfair to her. It would be different if we’d co-parented her from when she was a baby, but we didn’t.

So I know how to love Olivia. I do love her. I know how to care for her and support her. I have no idea how to discipline and correct her. My inclination is to NOT discipline, because I want every interaction to be positive. I don’t want to “undo” the connection I’ve made with her. But then I get frustrated and (apparently) I get snippy. I told Nicole months ago and again yesterday – the most important things I want to do in my life is be an awesome husband and an awesome dad. Everything else is secondary. Just got to figure out what that means exactly. 🙂