If someone told me 5 years ago I would be married to a French man with a son from a previous relationship I would have laughed my head off- but here I am with both…
I was so bad at French in school, I tried to fake illness and refused to sit the exam. I always maintained that Paris was just THE WORST place for a romantic get-away and had minimal interest in children, let alone someone else’s.
But it’s crazy how much both you and life changes over the years.
I had no pre-conceived notions about being a ‘step-parent’ at the start, I certainly didn’t see myself as one, and why should I? I had only just met this person. But low and behold the relationship became serious, the boy was as cute as a button and the fun times rolled. Then we got engaged and it went from fun to serious, it became a fact- I was going to be a step-parent… the truth of the matter hit me along with all that that title brings and I must admit I had a little cry. In fact I cried for a whole day.
Of course, I loved my husband-to-be and his son was great. But I wanted our baby to be both of our firsts, I didn’t want to have to take an ex-wife’s house location into consideration whilst wistfully talking about where we might live, I didn’t want to suddenly become an instant family every other weekend when we didn’t even have our own children yet and I didn’t want my family to be forever connected to my fiance’s past life. There are many things in life you take totally for granted and as-read until you realise they aren’t going to happen, and it truly feels like a loss when it hits you.
But life doesn’t always give us what we want and that doesn’t mean you send out the pity party so one day of crying for me whilst this all sunk in was quite enough.
Now I’m a few years in I can confirm that step-parenting is a funny one. It’s filled with so many contradictions and emotions that if I’m being totally honest I probably change how I feel about it daily. It goes from something wonderful to something heartbreaking with the smallest thing. It doesn’t help our case that we’re finding it hard to have children of our own.
One thing’s for sure – it can be a lonely place. There are many, many highlights of course, family fun, seeing your partner be wonderful with their kid and going rosy-eyed at the thought of one day having your own, cuddles, giggles, surprises, being asked to play, being a teacher, seeing the world through child’s eyes and watching them grow – it’s lovely.
But however strong the relationship becomes you will always, in literal terms (and I am the most literal and logical of people I am afraid) be the step. I don’t know about anyone else but a constant in the back of my mind is that this is another woman’s child. Not in a bad way, but in a way that reminds you of your place in the whole funny triangle or rather, square.
Everyone has their own thoughts on step-parenting but I decided early on and very firmly what I wanted to represent to him. This ‘bonus-mum’ stuff is not for me and I genuinely feel if you subscribe to this way of thinking you’re letting yourself in for a whole world of emotional turmoil. I am instead a good and loyal friend to him. He has a Mum. No one needs two. But everyone needs friends and you can have as many of them as you like. That’s the basket I’ll happily climb into and the one that I think will keep me and my esteem happy too.
I applaud all steps. If you decide to do a good job at it you take on all the responsibility of a Mother or Father without being one and you have to accept that your family will not be as you planned it. Your husband and your little lot will always be a little bit part of someone else’s lot. Sometimes you will feel left out, sometimes jealous, sometimes angry at the past and sad that you can’t have the exact future you imagined. And I’m not going to lie – sometimes all that really gets to me, I’m only human. But then I check myself – as you have to at times- and remind myself how very lucky I am to be part of an enchanted little child’s life.
He is such a lovely little chappy that I get to play with, look out for, explain things to, gang up with, pull faces at and laugh about poo jokes with.
My biggest step-parenting tip to date? Always remember how much more fun it is to think about these things than the things you don’t have. Actually – that’s my biggest tip for life in general. I hope it helps anyone reading this and finding things tough.