I have been a stepmom now for 5 years. My husband’s children were 9 and 12 when we met. I had been a single mom to my own 2 for about 7 years and we had our lives pretty straight. Darling Husband had only been divorced about a year when we met. His wife abandoned the family after 20 years of marriage, and my step children were really messed up for it. She re-emerged as a “strong single mother” type and has been an extremely difficult variable to navigate.
To say that this has been the most excruciating season of my life is a dramatic understatement. I cannot begin to count the hours of therapy we’ve all been in. Group, family, individual, small pairings. Yikes.
His children, their personalities, the way they were raised so differently than I raised mine….their ages….wow. These teen years are just beyond words.
The myth I bought into, somewhat self-imposed for sure, is that it’s all about the children. Well, a lot of it is for sure. But I’m human and I have wants and needs and boundaries too, that do matter. Foresaking that makes me a martyr. Fortunately, my Darling Husband has been supportive to me and his children and has really tried to foster a healthy relationship between us, even if it’s only a friendly one, and not one that resembles a parent figure to child.
I arrived at home plate determined to treat, love and mother his children like I do my own. Yeah they shut that down the first year we all lived together. See, fact is they aren’t my children, they don’t want another mother, and they aren’t even slightly wired to receive me like my own children. I am fond of them, but in no way do I love them like my own children…and that surprised me. I felt guilty and wrong and ashamed of that. I really, really thought that because of the love I have for their father and the love I posess as a mother, it would automatically translate to love for them, and no, it most certainly does not. And that’s OK. One does not have to love another human to be good friends with them, be honest with them, treat them right and be respectful and attempt to meet their needs. Sometimes “like” has to be enough…
In hindsight, if I knew then what I know now, I would have insisted that we wait until after all 4 graduated high school for us to be married. The love between a man and woman who wish to be together does not equate to compatibility for all parties involved. I am quite guilty of being very naive, lovestruck, and just selfish enough to believe we weren’t going to be that blended family with all these difficulties. Surprise!