I remember the first time I met him. He was all of two years old and the tiniest little replica of his daddy. It was adoration at first sight for me. He was a bit of a show off and knew he had his daddy in the palm of his chubby little hand. He kept asking me to watch him do this and that and I did, gladly. I was so happy that he was such a friendly little guy. Later, when his daddy kissed me and he leaned out of the playhouse window and said, “Hey… What’dya guys doing?,” his daddy nearly had a heart attack!
It was a rough start. My new husband’s ex pulled out all the stops. We were in court for everything imaginable, even before the wedding. We naively believed that things would calm down and even improve as time passed and we all settled into our lives. We were wrong. It was a constant rollercoaster ride for more than a decade. Sometimes we marvel at the fact that our marriage survived it! We were committed to not allowing it to affect our time together as a family. Through the years it felt like we just kept getting run over repeatedly, but we were the adults and we refused to let it hurt our kids anymore than it had to. It wasn’t always easy, but we had some great friends who let us unload our “It’s not fairs!” on them on the regular. They prayed with us and for us. I don’t know what we would’ve done without their support.
Being a stepdad comes with its challenges, for sure, but if you participate and are nice to your spouse’s child(ren), you are a hero to the world at large. If you are a stepmom, it is an ALL uphill climb. It’s typically assumed you are evil, thanks to Cinderella, Snow White, and other lovely fairytales of the day. If you welcome your spouse’s child(ren), you are suspected of trying to replace the bio-mom. If you aren’t terribly affectionate or welcoming, you are accused of being a heartless witch. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as scrutinized as I felt every other weekend and the several weeks during the summers that I was actively being a stepmom. As hard as I tried to make things “normal,” there was always the second guessing of EVERYTHING. What was completely normal with my bio-child who was only a few months older made me a wreck with my stepson. Between a husband who was very critical, a bio-mom who was court happy, and family members who struggled with the whole situation, I did the best I could with what I had at 24 years of age. Doubting everything I did when it came to him was the norm.
In 96 hours each month we were to visit both sets of grandparents, make memories, teach responsibility and a million other important things, be a normal family, sleep, eat, go to church, and be sure the kids all made it to all of their weekend activities – because if they didn’t, we may end up in court, again.
I sometimes wonder if I knew what all I’d go through because I fell madly in-love with a man with a child, an ex-wife, and all that entails, if I would’ve said, “Yes” to that first date. I know that must sound awful, but tonight I am tired and hurting and a little bit unbelieving of how long this continues to go on and how frustrating it is that the people who should be standing up and supporting the good guys are kissing up to the bad guys in selfishness.
I didn’t always make the right decisions, but I always choose what I believed was best for our sons. ALWAYS. I love all 5 of our children with all of my heart. I have since the moment I met each of them, whether it was in person, or it was by way of a pregnancy test. I have lived my life with my family as my first worldly priority.
I know there are women who marry men and do their best to get their stepchildren out of their lives. I know there are others who are genuinely unloving to them. I know there are parents and stepparents who put their children in the middle like pawns in a chess game. I also believe that this is horribly wrong and rare. I know I have done none of these things.
My oldest son has a stepmom. During his teen years they did not get along terribly well. He was a teenager. He and I did not get along terribly well. She is a very nice woman. We are not social friends, but I am so very thankful that she has been good to my son. I can see that she genuinely loves him. My son, his dad, his stepmom and her children are a family. That is what I want for my son. Isn’t that what being a parent is?…
If and when my oldest son and his wife have children we will all be grandparents together. Our grandchild will be our priority and we will support each other and encourage relationship with our grandchild because we will all love him/her and want what is best for that precious child. We’re the adults.
Okay… I feel better now that I have that almost 3 decade long load off of my chest.
Yep, I know this is a bit corny, but it’s mostly true, too.
I’ve learned that a bunch of the junk that we fought for because it seemed so important in the moment, wasn’t really so important in the long run. I’ve learned that you can’t spend your life fighting for someone who doesn’t want you in their life or who isn’t willing to fight for you because you lose precious moments with the people He put in your life to love and be loved by. I’ve learned that being a mom and/or a stepmom is really hard and we should honor each other along the way. I’ve learned to trust myself, to forgive myself and to let go when He shows me it’s time…
Life is too short. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until after I wasted more time than I wish I would’ve. Fortunately, I’ve also learned that it’s not worth my time to wallow in regret. Movin’ on…