Snapshot: What being a step-parent means

by singlemomseeking on December 16, 2010

I first “met” Christina, aka “Solo Mother,” via her blog about… you guessed it: parenting her son solo. We became fast email friends and shared some heart-wrenching dating disasters with each other through the years. Well, big congrats to Christina, who got married on December 12!

Here she is, lovely bride-to-be, just before her wedding — to Jim, single dad of a daughter — whom she met online when she declared in her profile “Calling all single dads!”

But Christina and Jim didn’t start off in the most ideal place. Sure, their first date took them to Rocky Horror, during which “I was one of perhaps two people in the audience who actually knew what to holler back at the screen.”

But Christina soon realized that Jim wasn’t ready for a deep, close relationship. “His divorce had left a nasty wound that hadn’t even begun to scab over, a year after it was through,” she says. “He broke up with me about six months after we’d begun dating.”

They continued to see each other off and on, until Christina finally decided “I had to let him go.”

“After my own marriage had broken up, I swore I’d never take on someone I thought I could ‘fix’,” she says. “And this guy needed some fixin’ up — only I was smart enough to know he’d have to do the work, not me….And I went on my way. Next!”

“But he stayed in touch. When I wanted to start a new project, he was there, with helpful advice. When I was down on myself, he was still my supporter, my coach, my bright mirror. When something broke, he fixed it. I could count on him. His word was gold. His presence was a promise. He was my friend.”

You can guess what happened next: Christina kept her distance as they remained friends, but one night she had a health scare and took herself to the emergency room. Jim happened to call Christina when she was on her way to the hospital.

“He stayed at my side, making sure I was warm, that my family was comforted, that my doctors didn’t forget about me. If you’ve ever had an acute attack of vertigo, you know how frightening it can be. He insisted on bringing me to his home that night, and took such good care of me I was in tears… I knew, that night, that here was the soul who was my rock, the place to hang my future, the anchor for my bruised and battered dreams. And I think I am all of that for him, as well.”

After meeting three years ago, Christina and Jim officially blended their family this month.

Christina has been raising her son — whom she calls “the King of Everything, or KoE — alone since early on. His father lives abroad and their relationship is a Skyping one.

“The KoE has a very healthy, positive relationship with his future step-dad,” she says. “KoE still isn’t sure what to call Jim — he says he’d like to call him dad, but right now it feels weird. Who knows what my step-daughter will call me!  We talk a lot about the fact that it’s okay to love your first dad and love this new father-figure in his life. It’s not disloyal.”

Christina and Jim have a vision of being a “whole family,” which she explains as: “I am firm in my desire to co-parent KoE with Jim. Bottom line is, I don’t know how someone could expect their spouse to love their kid and not have some responsibility in raising him or her.”

“Jim and I are very similar when it comes to parenting philosophies. He tempers my extremes. He makes me a better parent. I’m looking forward to years and years of that. He is looking forward to helping KoE grow and thrive, and has a deep affection for my quirky, kooky kid.  We’ll all four of us move into our new relationship and roles gradually.”

Your turn:

If you have blended your family, do you and your new spouse have a similar vision of what it means to be a step-parent? How would you define it?

If you’re a step-parent, how would you describe your role in the family?

If you’re dating as a single parent right now, do you ever imagine what role a step-parent might take in your lives?


Congrats to the Caseable winner!… Jennifer B!

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