When I first met you I thought I’d love you in a second… Your tiny little self barely knew what was going on and although you were a total sweetie by anyone’s standards, to me you quickly came to represent all the things I was trying my hardest to push from my mind.

I feel like it’s expected of me, to love you, instantly, unconditionally, because I’m your Stepmum and I love your Dad and that’s the nearest to the fairy tale we’re going to get, but it didn’t work out like that.  It feels as though I would offend people if I said this out loud so I’m writing it instead, I find it hard to love someone else’s kid. Harder still when currently, I can’t have any of my own. That’s just the plain and honest truth.

Now, before there’s any upset let me clarify. This doesn’t mean I’m going to be unkind or that I dislike you, that I wouldn’t defend you or protect you, be proud of you or impressed by you. It just means I’m not there yet. Love is a big word, it’s the tops, it’s everything, there’s nowhere else to go after love and I’m not there yet.

And yes at times, I admit I’ve been closer to hating you than loving you. In quiet, honest moments, I’ve resented you, been jealous of you and simply wished you didn’t exist. All the while you trundled on regardless, growing, learning, visiting us each weekend in your own little bubble, oblivious to any internal anguish my adult brain was working through.

And yes at times seeing you made me sad. At times being around you and your Dad made me so, so sad after failed IVF attempts or a difficult week. Sometimes I created ‘work’ to do or would make plans with friends specifically when you visited because I felt claustrophobic around you both.

It wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t anything you did, in fact, I quickly realised it wasn’t even you at all. It was the loss of the life I thought I would have, shared first times, lost expectations, having to share before I was ready to…looking at you was simply a raw reminder of what another woman had already had with my husband, what I now couldn’t, and I felt cheated.

I hope you didn’t notice. I’ve always tried to do my best to make sure you didn’t. I buy the food you like, wash and iron your clothes and put your toys out so you feel at home. I make sure I listen to you, laugh with you, teach you what I can and give you all the attention you deserve.

I know children are more perceptive than most but it really was my intention to never let on I was finding things difficult and I hope I did a good job.

I’ve felt bad for not finding it easy to love you but I’m not going to feel bad any more. Becuase it takes time, love. And it’s taken me time to get where I am today, to not look forward to your bedtime or the day we drop you back. To not feel anxious on the day of your arrival. To not feel seethingly jealous when your Dad snuggles up to you on the sofa with me huddled alone the other end.

I don’t love you yet and I think that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, or don’t think you’re great, or wouldn’t try my hardest to keep you happy and safe. Strong, wonderful relationships are built when given time to grow.  Sometimes stuff needs to be worked through when you’re given a situation you didn’t plan on.

I feel alright with that and I think you do too. Although you don’t really understand right now, this wasn’t a situation you planned on either and I’m sure your journey to hopefully loving me one day will take you down similar rocky roads. And that’s okay too.

Bit by bit we’re both finding our places in this funny little family and bit by bit the jealousy and the sadness and resentment on my part, in my head and heart, has dulled. You’re just you now. The baggage that weighed you down in my mind has been put in a pile on the floor and I’m slowly sorting through it. I’m becoming a bigger, better person because of it. Because of you. So thank you.

I didn’t choose you any more than you chose me, and at times it’s still tough but I’m grateful you’re in my life and I’m learning to love this funny little family we’ve become.