Is the juice worth the squeeze?  Just a general question in and of itself but one that we can apply to many different scenarios.  Have you ever done something that you look back and say to yourself, “what the hell was I thinking when I did that?”  Or maybe you have gotten to the finish line and said to yourself, “Never again.”  Ah, there is that infamous word (never) that I both hate and despise.  I learned years ago that as soon as you say the word “never” in any form of any context, you are regretting it the next day.  So I have learned to say the word never, “ever.”  It is NOT part of my vocabulary.  (until now, maybe).

Am  I going to be humbled once again because of my own stupidity?   What the hell am I thinking?  Surly after all these years (50) I can’t still be wrong (no, just weak).  I think maybe I am claiming defeat here.  I usually make good decisions that generally make the squeeze damn worth having the juice, but at what cost.  In this case, I’m a defeated man.  After 50 years on this earth, can it be that I have finally been broken.

I’m talking about being a step-parent and raising kids.  First let me clear the air for those of you who have NEVER been a step-parent.  Nothing is normal, NOTHING.  The first thing you must realize early on is that you are nothing more than a piece of matter that makes up a void.  That void is nothing more than space.  In some cases, this void is NOT any type of role that is missing in their life.  Trust me, I know.  I have raised (and still am) 5 step-kids between two marriages over a span of 26 years.  The kids now range from age 12 to 30.  You come into their lives at various stages and you never know what the outcome will be because of your lack of influence.  You must remember, you are NOT their parent, and many times they will remind you of that.

It’s a constant struggle of making the right move at the right time.  You see, after my first marriage, I made the decision to “Never” raise another woman’s kids unless they were my biological kids too.  Well as life’s strange twists and turns would have it, I married a woman who had 3 kids, ages 6, 8, & 11.  Yep, after my first two step kids had graduated high school and left home, I decided to start all over raising kids again.  The kids are now 13, 15, & 18.  You must ask yourself, “is the juice worth the squeeze?”  Five more years and I’ll be 55 and our last kid will be graduating high school.  Does this mean the end game for raising kids?  Or will it be time to figure out a way to raise more?

By the time I am done raising kids, it will be over a period of more than 30 years.  The presumption is that by that time I will be tired.  Too tired to spend time molding kids into young adults.  Done taking on the squeeze.  Done with the not normal way of life.  Have I been broken or have I done my duty in raising kids into young adults?  I guess I say broken because it is hard for me to bring things to an end.  In my life there is no end-game.  It is hard for me when things end and perhaps I take it way too personal that maybe I have failed.

I think in this case I need to look back over 30 years and truly appreciate my accomplishments (not all good), and know that the juice was well worth the squeeze cause life could have been so much more different (and difficult) than what it already has been.  Did they all turn out to be perfect little angels?  No.  But they all are in a much better place with having a step-father that cared than not having a father at all.  Kids are kids and they all need guidance just like we did when we were young.  I truly love raising kids and even though at times, I question that, I know that when I do not have kids around me, the world can become a very lonely place.




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