Family

Becoming a Bonus Mom

The Beginning

When I first move into Luke’s home with his children, it was a tad awkward. I’m 12 years younger than Luke, and I never dated anybody with kids before, let alone teenagers. I got along fine with Rebecca, Amber and John (who at the time were 15, 17 and 19), we enjoyed each others company, but I didn’t feel like I could ask them to pick up after themselves, and I was frustrated that they didn’t naturally clean up or contribute to the home (I mean, they are teenagers, they should know better, right?!?)

I would smile at Rebecca and wish her a nice day, when deep down I was angry that the kitchen was a mess and nobody would clean up after themselves. I would pick up after my mess, making sure I left everybody else’s mess there to show that it wasn’t my fault, I wasn’t making the mess.

I would quietly walk around the kitchen in the morning when John and his friends were sprawled out on the couch in the living room after staying up all night. Why did I have to be quite when these kids were invading the home?

I would then go to Luke and complain about the kids not contributing to the house work and taking up so much space. “You should tell them to clean up,” I would say.  He would reply, “Why don’t you tell them?”

My relationship with the kids was strained. The atmosphere was just weird. My relationship with Lke was strained. He didn’t want me to parent, yet he would tell me to tell them to clean up after themselves. I didn’t want to say anything in fear they would dislike me.

I couldn’t be myself; I was frustrated, resentful, and a bit selfish. This is not how I wanted it to be.

I then had an realization. Family comes in all shapes and sizes. I wasn’t treating these kids like family, I was treating them like roommates. I wanted them to be my family. More than that, I wanted them to see me as someone they could turn to for help. Someone that is there for them. I will never be their mother. But I could be a mother. I took that on.

Being a Mother

John GraduationAs a mother, I started to put pictures up in the house of us doing things. The first was John’s graduation. Then a few pictures of Rebecca and her friends. Pictures of us at the beach, and visiting Yellowstone and Montana.

As a mother, I started picking up after the kids. It didn’t bother me to do a little extra work for a clean house. It also didn’t bother me to ask them for help. I was doing more than my share, so I wasn’t so worried that they would hate me for asking for some help. Sometimes I get a groan, but they always helped out whether they complained about it or not.

Our household changed over night. The atmosphere was welcoming, and our house became a home. To the point that Rebecca wanted to live with us full time. John followed a few months after that. We created a home where they feel safe, welcomed, and loved.

Becoming a Bonus Mom

When Luke proposed to me in May, there was another shift in our house that I wasn’t expecting. It is hard to explain. Even though I knew I would be with him forever, I didn’t realize when the commitment was made that there would be another shift.

Rebecca jokingly called me her step mother. I didn’t like that one bit. When I think of step mom, I think of an “evil” step mom. The word step doesn’t portray what I want to be to Luke’s children.

In Sweden, the translation of step mother is “bonus mor” or “bonus mother”. I love this translation. Why do we think of step parents, step siblings as “step”, instead of something extra? Why can’t we view our step parents as bonus parents?

I shared this with Rebecca. I told her, I thought of her as a bonus, not anything “step”. She loved this and started to call me Bonus Mom (saving “step mom” for when I didn’t do what she wanted).

I shared this with John and Amber, who liked it too and started calling me bonus mom.

It is a different conversation when I say “my step kids” vs. “my kids”. I don’t want language to separate who we are to each other, especially who these wonderful children are to me.  I am not planning on having biological children. I feel no need or loss of anything. Why would I when I have Rebecca, Amber and John?

I told this story to many other people who love the idea of bonus parents, bonus children, bonus brothers and bonus sisters.

I invite you to create bonus family in your life and remove the word “step”. Don’t let a little word like that separate you from your family, no matter how long you have been together.

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3 Comments

  1. Amber
    June 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm — Reply

    Love it;)

  2. Brandi Visser
    June 11, 2015 at 8:01 am — Reply

    thank you so much for sharing your story, I have a very similar situation and I have encountered very similar situations. It’s good knowing you’re not alone. ?

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