Parenthood is tough, but I’m convinced that young parenthood comes with a slew of unique trials that older parents are exempt from. In addition to the usual teething woes and toddler tantrums, teen & 20-something parents are often juggling continuing education, budding careers, and the oh-so-common identity/soul searching that comes with the territory of early adulthood. For young parents true friends are hard to come by. Your “typically developing” peers are living the dorm life, and enjoying the new-found freedoms of the 21 & over social scene, and can’t relate to you when your main source of excitement is an uninterrupted nights sleep and a toddler who has been pull-up free for a week with no accidents. What’s rougher than young parenthood? Try being a young STEP parent… When my oldest son’s father met his (now) wife, he was 23 and she was 21. “Baby Dad” and I had already been separated for five years, and me & my (now) husband had been together for several years and had had our first son by this time. (I was 22). I knew her through work…she and I were both employed at a private school in the infant/toddler room. We were friends, and worked well together in the fast-paced, often stressful environment of the daycare center. For years they dated, and we cautiously maintained a cordial relationship when it came to negotiating the schedule and needs of our shared son. It’s not that I didn’t like her, it’s just that it’s difficult to sort through the feelings of ambiguity, jealousy, protectiveness, and role-assertiveness that come with co-parenting- especially when you’re just coming of age yourself. Thinking back, I think there were things about their relationship that irked me-particularly that they had the freedom to travel up & down the state, stay out late, and otherwise enjoy the benefits of young adulthood that I- as custodial parent- could not. They were not wrong in doing so, it’s just that I secretly envied the spontaneity of that lifestyle. Other than that, I had few complaints. She was accommodating, even overly so at times, so I rarely felt like my role as the mother was being encroached upon. Fast forward ten years…Often, I think of her randomly throughout the day, only to find she has sent a text at that exact moment. We share a love of history, a passion for social justice, an obsession with anything Pride & Prejudice—and, in another interesting twist of fate, we also happen to share the same first name. She attends sports games, doctor’s appointments, and back-to school nights with me (you should see the looks of confusion we get when we try to explain our relationship, and shared child…but hey, this is the 21st century, get over it people!) This last year, she was also there for the birth of my fourth child. Her daughter, my son’s little curly-haired, brown-eyed beauty of a sister- is MY god-daughter, and I adore that little girl to pieces. I am lucky…no, actually, I am BLESSED to have a step-mother for my son who is as attentive and selfless in regards to his needs, as I am. She picks up where I leave off, and fills in where I cannot. I can’t imagine what parenting would be like without her as my co-mommy…and I have no doubt my son will someday come to realize just how special his family situation is. Our co-parenting utopia did not happen overnight. It took effort, maturity, and compromise on all ends. But the fruits of our labors are priceless. I often listen to other parents’ complain about custody battles, child support issues, and Baby Daddy drama with sympathy. I cannot relate, nor would I ever want to. My son gets to enjoy a family life free of parental tug-of-war, mental, or otherwise. I could not ask for anything more. I’m a fan of fairy tales, but I must say, I do not like the bad rap that step-mothers have gotten. So from this day forward, I crown my son’s step mother ‘Fairy Godmother’…because, according to Wikipedia, a fairy godmother is a fairy with “magical powers who acts as a mentor or parent to someone…” and that’s nothing short of a fitting description for my son’s other mother. She magically sailed through young step-parenthood with the grace & maturity of an old soul. And that, my friends, is the stuff that happily ever-afters are made of.