What co-parenting really means when you're "not the mama"
In a few weeks I will be 37. I have never had any children of my own nor had I longed to have any although I was open to possibly adopting by year 40.
But there is just something about what the Universe wants versus what you imagine happening for your life. Oftentimes what is guided for you was necessary for your growth as well as your happiness.
A relationship with David, my SO, meant he came with two kids. We have been together a year and his children have been a part of my life. But this also means I thought being in a co-parenting relationship required my actual parenting. Before you scold me, let me tell you what I believe parenting includes: discipline. It took me a year to realize plus many heated conversations to know this is not my place. Being that I didn't have a hand in raising them (they are 10 and 13 years old) there is no reason to believe I have to start doing that now. You are still a parental unit and the kids in your home will still know you care. They might even make you a homemade greeting card on Mother's Day even though you are not their actual mom.
Remember that television show Dinosaurs? The baby on it always yelled, "Not the mama! Not the mama!" Although he was saying that about the father figure in the house, I hear his voice in my head a lot these days. Not because anyone has proclaimed this to me, but as a reminder that many things in this co-parenting gig are simply NOT my job. This does not mean I don't look after the kids but it means my expectations are my own and imparting them on children I didn't raise is a fallible plan that creates unnecessary friction.
The best you can do is coexist. And you can do so without apathy. It is about discernment and if you plan to go the long-haul in a blended family such as this you better get that lesson in your first year to avoid heartache. Again, if you have not done the raising, it isn't your job now. Just be a shining example that you hope suffices to be a good influence on them. Your expectations are just that. Yours.