Dear New Bonus Parent,
Welcome to the wild world of weird parenting! I’m going to tell you some things that I had to learn the hard way. You see when I became a Bonus Mom I thought I’d be great at it and that it would be easy peasy. I thought this because my Bonus Dad (the kids all call him Grandy) made it look effortless. I know now that he just wears it well and had his own struggles along the way with my brother and I. Here are a few things that I know now. I’m sure I’ll learn more as they get older too.
1) It is hard being attached to a human that you didn’t choose and that your partner didn’t even want to keep around despite having kids with them. Even if you think the mother/father of your bonus kids is great, there may still be a part of you that wants them to go away. You may flat out hate them. Sometimes your Bonus Child who you love like your own flesh and blood will wake up crying in the night asking for Mommy and it will cut you to the bone. (The first time this happened I got her settled down then went to my room and cried. I’ve since learned not to take it personally.) Their parenting style may drive you insane. They may seem so perfect that all you want to do is throw things. Just remember that your kids are more important that your irritation and pettiness.
2) You may not have an unshakable bond with your Bonus Kids right away. I had it in my head that I’d love them with the fierceness of a Momma Bear right off the bat and when I realized that I didn’t I hated myself. The reality is, you need to give yourself time to get to know them and to get to know who you are as their Bonus Parent. Suddenly you have this human in your life who is still learning how to human and has gone their whole life without needing or wanting you. That’s not easy! Keep your heart open, keep trying, and be kind to yourself. I love my kiddos now just like that Momma Bear that I wanted to be, but it didn’t happen overnight and there were more than a few tears along the way.
3) They will help you to see the world differently. My kiddos are amazing! They teach me so much about love and having open hearts every day. They are so very much themselves that sometimes I have to sit back and marvel. Crazy Eyes does things like call tights “sock pants.” The Boy comes up with wild and crazy inventions. All kids see things differently than adults do but its interesting when the children have spent most of their lives being raised by another person.
4)You will have to share your spouse with another person from day one. I never imagined that my chosen person would already have someone that he loved more than the world before I came along. I of course anticipated that when I had kids that I’d have to share the attention but I didn’t expect to play second fiddle from the start. Once I got past the initial “Oh that’s a weird feeling” I was fine with it but its definitely not something I thought about.
5) You will have to accept that some “firsts” are not attainable for you. I wasn’t there for the kids first teeth or their first days at school. I wasn’t there to see their first birthdays or first Christmases. I may not be there for their first school dance or their first time driving. I have to be okay with that even though I hate that I’ve missed out on it. I remember being crushed when I found out that their Mom’s boyfriend had taken them fishing when I wanted us to teach the kids. The reverse is also true though. We get to be present for their firsts that their Mom can’t be there for.
Knowing all of this, I can tell you that I’ve survived so far. One day they may get mad and yell at me and tell me that I’m not their real Mom. That’s okay. They will always be the children that I chose even when they are evil teenagers. Don’t be afraid to talk to a friend about how you are feeling. Its okay to not love it all the time. Just hang in there New Bonus Parent. You are going to do great!