I’m 25 years old and have been a smom for four years, with almost three of those years being full-time custodial. My DSS is 10 years old and the love of my life (besides my DH!). If I could pick anything to do differently, I would:
1. Realize that BM’s relationship with DSS is HER responsibility. It wasn’t my job to try to make certain she stayed connected to him if SHE wasn’t trying to. Taking on responsibility for it helped HER out, but it stressed me out unnecessarily.
2. Recognize that BM’s feeling towards me stemmed from HER life, not from what I was doing. She would have had a problem with anyone who DH married and nothing I could do would get her to a place where she was comfortable with me. She had to do that on her own and in her own time.
3. Realize that the stress I was causing myself by worrying about BM and her choices was only harming me. It was healthier for ME if I chose to look at her with kindness and think of her as a blessing in my life, rather than think of her as a pain that I had to put up with forever.
4. Release my anger towards her sooner about not taking care of DSS and getting him when she was supposed to. While it meant that I had to take on full responsibility for him while she partied, it also meant that I have a great bond with him that can never be taken away. When I stopped thinking of her as shirking her responsibility and started thinking of her as having blessed me with my child, I found that most of my frustration towards her dissipated.
5.This one to me is the most important thing I would do differently: Because of my job (as a CPS worker), I often see parents (unfortunately, because of the dynamics of the population we serve, it is mostly mothers) at their worst. It gets really easy to “judge” a parent as “bad” or “good” because of their choices and this is the same thing that I got into with BM. Sometimes we find that a person who had a child wasn’t ready to be a parent and didn’t necessarily WANT to be a parent. That doesn’t mean they don’t love the child or that they are a bad person. Parenting is a hard job that isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t make someone bad that they don’t want to take the job on. It makes them human. If I could go back, I would realize earlier on that she was doing the best she could with what she was given from HER upbringing. And HER best is all that anyone could ask.