How Being A Step-Mom Almost Turned Me Off Having Kids

I was never totally convinced I wanted to have kids, and dating a guy with kids made me even less convinced. In fact, it almost turned me off the idea completely. Here’s what I’ve learned about parenting by becoming a stepmom:

  1. Kids ask a lot of questions. Nobody could’ve prepared me for how inquisitive those kids were. Yes, I had experience babysitting, but I thought they were only asking me so many questions because I was new and shiny. Not true. Kids ask a ton of questions all the time. It never ends.
  2. Kids push boundaries. I kind of assumed that the kids were pushing back because of who I was: Daddy’s new girlfriend. It turns out that wasn’t entirely true. Kids push back with everyone. Those little buggers love nothing more than to find the loophole in any rule adults create. It’s exhausting.
  3. Kids have to be taught table manners. I was shocked to learn that we aren’t born knowing how to behave at the dinner table. It honestly never occurred to me that there are small humans out there who don’t know they’re supposed to close their mouths while chewing or that it’s considered rude to make gagging faces at a plate of food.
  4. Kids touch everything. Why? Why do they do it? When I first started living with the kids, I dreaded family outings to the grocery store. I was so irritated by the way they had to reach out and touch all the shelves that I started just going shopping on my own. Eventually I was able to see through the blinding rage and realize that all kids are tactile, not just the ones I live with.
  5. Kids generate a lot of laundry. We all only wear one outfit per day, right? So what are they doing? Do they just pull clothes out of the dresser, scrunch them in a ball, and throw them in the laundry basket? I don’t get it!
  6. Kids move painfully slowly. Ask children to put on their shoes and about 30 minutes later, they’ve finally finished it. I know their motor skills haven’t exactly been developing for decades, but come on —they’re just shoes.
  7. Kids are incapable of flushing the toilet. It’s mind-boggling to me. I could maybe (maybe!) understand it from a girl, but boys are facing the back of the toilet when they pee. And it turns out, this isn’t just my step kids — I’ve spoken to a ton of parents who all say the same thing.
  8. Kids don’t listen. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said to the kids, “Put your shoes on, we’re going to the store. We can stop at the park on the way home.” No kidding, within 30 seconds one of them asks, “Why do we need to put our shoes on? Are we going out? Where are we going?” At that point it takes every ounce of my strength not start banging my head against the wall. Just listen, children. Open your damn ears!
  9. Kids don’t clean up. There’s an apple core on the table. I decide I need a drink. I pick up the apple core, put the apple in the trash, get my drink, and put bottle back in the refrigerator. Kids don’t. They walk right past the apple, take out three bottles of juice when they’re only going to use one, and don’t put any of them back. Seriously? Who does that?
  10. Kids are actually mini humans with personalities. This probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but it did. I assumed that people develop personalities in high school. Wrong. Kids have their own personalities that you have to learn to navigate. It’s a nightmare. I swear nature gives you babies so you can figure out a kid’s personality before it gets too old. A mother needs to learn to control that crap early on. If nature gave us all six-year-olds from the beginning I would never have sex again.
Aileen is a freelance writer and recovering perfectionist. When she was consumed by perfectionism, Aileen was always confused, angry and frustrated. At she tries to help other women who feel the same because life after perfectionism is bloody great!