Jacob, Maria, and Khymi
Maria Paoletti is an urban homesteader and gardener, AmeriCorps alumna, on-again-off-again college student, musician and stepmom. At the age of 23, she fell in love with the 24-year-old noncustodial father of a four-year-old girl. Since then, she has been exploring the challenges of stepparenting, noncustodial parenting and maintaining harmonious co-parenting relationships while still growing up herself. She originally wrote this piece last summer for Small Red House, the blog she shares with her partner, when her stepdaughter was seven:
I'm still sort of decompressing from several crazy-but-wonderful weeks of summer parenting time. It's pretty much baptism by fire for me, compared to the typical parenting learning curve, and considering I'm still somewhat new to this. It feels a little jarring to be unceremoniously thrown into "mom" mode, including being called "your mom" by many well-meaning (but presumptuous) strangers, while not actually being Khymi's mother--not wanting to be, not pretending to be; just assuming similar responsibilities. I guess some would say a stepmother is a kind of mother, but I'm quite aware of the fact that I am not Khymi's mother. That title has always belonged to someone else, and it always will.