I have a wonderful husband. I also have a great family and great kids. Including my step kids, although I don’t often separate the two. My kids are my kids, always and forever, whether I gave birth to them or not. I take care of them when they are sick, I go to school meetings and doctors’ appointments. I scold them when they are bad and praise them when they achieve their goals.

 

The big difference is, I have to be “in the middle.” I am always between my husband and his ex-wife. The big reason for their divorce was they just didn’t communicate. Some people just can’t. Even when they go to write it down or text it out, some people just don’t understand each other. I’m honestly surprised they had children together (I’m glad they did though, or I wouldn’t have my kids).

 

So, for the last couple of years, I’ve been helping them talk. They somehow always need mediation. Some people just do, I think. Just like my husband and the kids. One of his sons is very much his mother’s child and communicates just like her. This leaves it incredibly difficult to bond, and as everyone gets older (and more stubborn) I find myself more and more in the middle because he’s more comfortable coming to me.

 

When the kids fight, it can sometimes become these kids against those kids. I think this is also partly due to gender differences, but, still. During those meetings, I mentioned previously with teachers and doctors, somehow, I’m the odd person out even though I’ve been around just as long as the step-dad.

 

I’m not trying to take Mom’s place, I actually like her and we get along. Sure, it wasn’t always like that, but we actually have a good relationship now. We can talk on the phone and coordinate what is going on with the kids. Discuss punishments like who is grounded from what this week and why. People don’t see the behind the scenes stuff though. They just assume “because mom and dad are divorced, he must have cheated or something.” When that’s not true at all.

 

It’s difficult to always be in between the kids and the ex and my husband and everyone else, trying to keep the peace and punishment lines and as a mom just wanting a little appreciation. With step kids though, it’s always fluid. While my love is now unconditional, I’m never sure where they are with their feelings about me. Love me as a friend or a parent? Like me like a teacher? I just don’t know.

 

I want them to know regardless, I love them, so of course I tell them. When I say, “I love you,” and the kids don’t say it back I have to keep from crying because I’ve been there through potty training and trying new foods. I’ve helped teach life skills and held them through skinned knees. The truth is, most of the time, I don’t see them as my step kids anymore.

 

From toddlers to teens, this is my life, my family and when people ask if I really have this many kids what they really mean is, “did that many really come out of your vagina?” No. Does that matter? They are my children and I love them.

-Chloe