When I was working outside of my home, I had a pretty drama-filled workplace. There was lots of deceiving, lots of whispering behind backs and lots of “Is our boss going to show up today? He is? Is he going to be sober and coherent?”
But the one thing I can say with 100% certainty, is that it was the most flexible place I ever worked. Despite it not being the healthiest, most nurturing environment, my direct boss was kind and considerate and would let me take the day off for something as long as I texted her before I was due in the office. She also knew I had two young stepchildren and, on Fridays when we had the kids, would let me come into work an hour late after dropping Chloe off at school and let me bring Trey in to hang out in the office. Then, I would leave four hours early to go pick Chloe up and not have to return to work.
She was very accommodating about my relationship with my stepchildren and I often wish I had told her thank you for that because my boss before her was not. I can remember asking my first boss if it was okay to be late so I could take Chloe to school and her immediate reaction was, “What? Why do you have to take her to school? Why do you even have her on Fridays?”
“…Well, we get the kids on Thursday nights, so we’re responsible for them on Fridays…”
I will never forget the look she gave me, a look that basically said I DON’T BELIEVE YOU as she muttered, “I’ve never heard of that before.”
I was always terrified of her, terrified to ask her for a day off to go to Chloe’s field day. There had been several times when I needed to leave early to pick up the kids or go to pre-k registration and she would always say something like, “Why can’t David go? Why do you have to do it? Where’s their mom? I don’t understand, if the kid’s sick, then take her to her mom’s, right? You don’t have them this weekend, do you? Why are you going to that?”
The thing is, I know that not everyone can understand the relationship I have with my stepchildren, but I treat them like they are my children. I often wondered that if Chloe and Trey were my biological children, if First Boss Jerk would have given me such a hard time about going to their activities. She always let me go, this is true, but not without that air of they’re not really your kids, so I’m not sure why it’s so important floating around. What’s that called? Oh yes. Condescending.
When it comes to being a stepmom, I really don’t think people get why it’s so important for us to be involved. I think they assume that if the kids’ mom is going, then everything’s covered and if the kids’ mom and dad are going, then why do I need to be there? Am I just trying to muck up the family picture? Do I really think I need to be there?
Yes. I do. I need to be at Chloe’s honors ceremony because it’s important. If I can get the day off, I need to be there to see her accept her awards and for her to know that I am there, especially if her daddy can’t make it. I need to be at Trey’s open house so I can meet his teachers, find his classroom and introduce myself as his stepmom so they know who I am. I need to pick them up from their mom’s at a decent hour so we can go home, get dinner started and still have time to enjoy each other before bed. I need to be there for my stepchildren because they are my children.
I was really lucky to have Madame Second Boss in Charge, but I’ve even luckier to have a job working from home now. I think work flexibility is a big deal and I know that so many workplaces give parents a hard time about their obligations. We hear it all day long that parents are having to miss little league games and Boy Scout night because their bosses have threatened to fire them, but add in that it’s your stepchild? And people are totally confused.
Is your work flexible when it comes to your stepchildren? Does anyone give you a hard time about prioritizing your stepchild’s activities?