As a birth mother, the idea of parenting again scares me. I remember how hard pregnancy was. I recall how I felt working full-time on almost no sleep. I know what it’s like to be a single mother. Honestly, the trauma from living such a rough situation has caused me about anxiety about parenting again. I am afraid that I won’t be able to handle another pregnancy. I fear that I will lose my partner and become a single mother. I strive for balance on a daily basis. However, I have good news: I’m parenting again.
I Am a Stepmother
I am a stepmother. When I met my husband, he had three children, and I have taken on loving them as their stepmother. Two of my stepsons are adults, so they don’t require any parenting from me. The third child is in elementary school. He requires parenting.
Call it God, call it time and circumstance, call it whatever you want to. The truth is, I am parenting again without living out the things that I am afraid of. Taking care of this child means that I don’t have to worry about pregnancy, I have a partner, and my stepson is old enough that I can still take care of myself while helping him.
I Love My Children
Parenting again proves to be challenging as a birth mother. I love my stepson with all of my heart, just like I do my birth son. Yet, it’s almost as if they have different parts of my heart. Neither one knows more love than the other, but each one knows a different version of my love. My stepson challenges me daily to be a better parent to him, while my birth son interacts with me every few months. Both require age-appropriate interactions, but there are differences in my parenting style with both children.
Parenting my stepson means that I am a partner in daily activities with my husband. We share discipline, learning and teaching, responsibilities, and play. We always strive to be better parents as we wake up every morning. I am a stepmother, which means learning how to balance parental duties without being called “Mom.” It’s interesting to watch my relationship with my husband develop as we grow closer in certain ways while co-parenting, which I have never done until now.
A Special Love
It’s also interesting to watch my stepson and I grow to love one another in our own special way. My stepson knows that I am not “Mommy,” but he loves me with a special place in his heart. I work every day that I have him at trying to make sure he is being disciplined age-appropriately. I have volunteered to help him with his academics. I encourage him in his relationship with mom and dad. I play a role as a trusted adult with whom he can talk to about anything. I make sure he has everything he needs.
When I was a single mother with my son, we didn’t have a lot of support. It’s different parenting now with my husband. It’s comforting to know there is someone else in the picture. It’s a relief to get a nap when I need it, and a joy to share in milestones as a family. It’s also an adjustment emotionally and mentally for me. I have gone from independence as a young adult, to a married woman, to a full-time stepmother.
I Am Blessed
My son and my stepson have met one another. It was eerie how similar they look and behave. They both love me, and seeing them sitting next to each other made my heart leap with happiness. I am so blessed to have such a love from the two of them. Watching them interact was incredible when they met each other. My son’s parents fully support the healthy choices that I make in my life, and that includes being a stepmom. Part of the attraction to my husband is how similar his son is to mine, and it’s no secret that they are very similar.
One of the most important aspects of parenting again after choosing adoption has been learning how to forgive myself for not being a perfect parent, let alone a perfect person. I have had to forgive myself for struggling as a single mother. I have had to forgive others in my life for not supporting me as a single mother. I have had to face my fears regarding failing as a parent, and come to the realization that adoption isn’t failing. Adoption is a choice we make as parents that allows for our children to have the life that we want for them. There is a level of requirement that every parent has regarding what type of life they want their children to have. I hold high expectations for myself, and for the life that I want for my son. Adoption was what allowed me to have those expectations met in the couple who are now the parents of my son.
It's Okay, Parent Again
Don’t be afraid to parent again. Face your fears and forgive yourself. You are never going to be a perfect parent. In fact, there is no such thing as perfect. Allow yourself to make mistakes, have rough days, but just get back up and always try again to do better next time. With time typically brings wisdom and maturity. Just because you weren’t ready to parent when you chose adoption doesn’t mean you will never be ready to parent.
In fact, I believe that choosing adoption is the most mature parenting choice there is for an unplanned pregnancy with an unprepared parent. Choosing adoption means understanding yourself enough to know you are not ready to parent. Choosing to parent again after adoption means being mature enough to know that now, you might actually be ready.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.