I am what most Disney movies (and many others) consider evil, mean, hateful, despised, and what stands in the way of the good souls reaching their true potential. My role is one that is still somewhat complicated in the eyes of society, even though many families have a member of this type. What am I? I am a Stepmom. I met, fell in love with, and married a man who happened to have a child, and it has been quite the journey. Here is what I have learned so far.
- Expect the unexpected and find your own “normal”. When I began looking for a man to share my heart with, I didn’t have any expectations other than he be kind and have the kind of soul my own could mesh with. I wanted a partner that was a balance of myself, a reflection of my values, and someone I could simply be myself with while pushing me to achieve more in life. I wanted someone who wanted all of those same things from me as well. I found that in the man I married, but with him came the bonus of another little soul. On my very first date with my husband, I also met my step-son. He was barely a year old and one of the cutest babies I had ever seen. While they both captured my heart quickly, I didn’t expect that I would be getting to know two people at the same time nor having the two of them getting to know me. When I think back, I realize what a critical time that was in our journey. Our beginning hinged on not just one, but TWO people’s feelings towards me. Had even one of my boys not taken to me the way they did, nothing in my life would be what it is now. It was never just about my husband and I, it was always about my husband, myself, and our son. Our relationship will never know the “traditional” way of doing things and it will always be unexpected and new. I love that about our life.
- I had to fall in love with my child. I was smitten with him from day one. How could this little ball of joy and perfection not capture my heart from the second I met him? I loved my dates alone with my husband while we were getting to know each other, but I was equally excited when I knew this little man would be joining us as well. So when I say “I had to fall in love with my child,” it is only because he was a stranger to me, and I to him when we first met. I didn’t carry him around inside me for 9 months. I didn’t give birth to him. I didn’t have an instant bond by blood. Instead, our bond would be created through interaction, confidence, trust, attention, comfort, and a plethora of other things. While it came easily and naturally, it took effort on my part to show him that I cared about him. I had to get to know him just as I had to get to know his daddy. He is his own person and not putting in the effort was not an option. I didn’t want him to feel that just because I loved his daddy it automatically meant I had to love him without really showing it. I had to prove to him that I had fallen in love with him for who he was, regardless of what his daddy meant to me. It did take time, but it was time well spent and our relationship is better because of it.
- I hate the words “step” and “bonus” mom. Yes, I look it as a privilege that my child has extra adults that love him. In my field, I’ve seen many children that don’t even have one parent to truly love them. Having so many people that love and adore him is a bonus in his life and I hope he grows to realize that. The way I look at it though, saying that I am a “bonus mom” or “stepmom” implies that I would want to be held in the same esteem that his biological mother is. That I can act in her place or take over if needed. That if she couldn’t do her job he is lucky because he has a backup mom. Yes, I care for him, love him, nurture him, and will help to raise him but I didn’t create the beginning of his life. I could never be his mother, nor do I ever want him feeling that I’m trying to be. Yes, I see him as my son because of my roll in his life–I am a parent to him and I want him to see me as a parent, but I don’t want him to see me as his Mommy. I want him to see and feel all of the love I have for him; to know it will always be my number one priority in life to keep him safe, to raise him to be kind and respectful, and to love others. But in his heart and eyes, I only ever want to remain his T-Bird. There is nothing that captures my heart more than when I hear that little voice say “You’re my T.” We have a special bond between us that is strong because we made it that way. I want to be who I am to him, not a replacement for what he already has. We are our own family and I want him to see that about us and know how special it is.
- I never realized how much I could love another person. It’s a feeling that cannot be put into words–you have to experience it to understand it. How someone can occupy every fiber of your heart with a love so powerful that it could melt steel and yet break it in half at the same time, depending on what your child is going through. To know that you would give up your life a thousand times over for them. A love so strong that you actually feel your heart smiling at the thought of your child. It is the most amazing feeling in the world.
Our journey has only just begun and I am excited for all that awaits us. It is one that will be full of many tough choices and decisions, but the easiest one I have ever made is to love my little family. To love how we began and what we can become. I chose to become a wife and a parent at the same time, and it was the best decision I have ever made.