Raising Someone Else’s Kids
“Do you have kids?”
That is always a tough question for me. And I always find myself stumbling over my answer. Yes, technically. I mean, they aren’t necessarily mine as in the normal way one has kids, but, in all other ways, yes, I have kids.
To be more specific, I have a stepson and two nephews. In my mind, though, they are all my kids. I didn’t have them so-to-speak, but they are mine.
And, here’s why. This is what it is like raising someone else’s kids.
When someone plays too rough outside and falls off a skateboard, tumbles over a basketball, or skids off a bike, you make sure you are there to wipe the blood, clean the wound, and dry the tears.
When someone feels beat down after a rough day at school or gets frustrated with a homework assignment, you speak uplifting words and provide encouragement.
When someone has a favorite breakfast, you go out of your way to make sure it is available in the morning.
When someone has interests, goals, and the like, you do what you can to guide their pursuit. You let them explore the things that matter to them.
When they do well, you praise them.
When they make a poor choice, you correct them.
When a kid gets excited about something, you feel yourself getting excited, too.
You brag about them.
You show up for them.
You sing with them, act goofy, and have your own inside jokes.
You do what you can to not let them down. And, if you ever accidentally do, you beat yourself up for it long past the time they’ve stopped thinking about it.
You make sacrifices to see them smile.
You hug and kiss them goodnight.
And, by all means, you tell them you love them.
Life is not easy. Life with kids is surely a rough ride. And, nobody – including myself – is perfect.
Raising someone else’s kids should be no different than raising your own biological children. Moral of the story? It doesn’t matter who had the darn kids – you raise them as if you did. You treat them as if they are yours. And you love the heck out of them.
You know, one of the wisest women I know once told me that you don’t ever love any kid differently, whether they are your own or your stepchild or another child in your care. She said that each child deserves to have unconditional love.
When I first fell into this role in my life, I had a hard time believing that. Not that I didn’t think all children should be loved unconditionally, but I felt that there is a certain piece of you that is bound to that child when it is biological. Something that I wouldn’t know for sure, of course. Perhaps I am wrong – I will leave that to all of you biological parents to discuss.
But I have grown into the woman that I am knowing that the love I have for the children in my life is not conditional. That there is not possibly anything I would do more or less for them if they came from me. I give them my all. Every day. Rain or shine. And, I do it because they are mine. All three of them.