The expectation when you are growing up is to meet the guy/girl of your dreams, and build your life together. For some people (not all), that dream extends to having children. To building a family, and loving that family, hard.
While I was growing up, I never had those marriage fantasies. I dreamt of far away places, of travel, of writing or creating movies. There was a small period of time where I actually tried to change my name to something horribly embarrassing. Most people laughed at me, my best friend Meagan backed me and immediately started rolling with it. Because she is amazing.
The thing is, I didn’t dream of my wedding. I didn’t dream of the family. The white-picket fence. Being pregnant. They all seemed like great things but they just weren’t on my ‘list’.
I had boyfriends. I had love stories. I had break ups. I did the thing. I have a lot of wonderful memories. The love of my life was always travel. I would work myself into the ground, saving every $ I had. Creating travel plans. Dreaming of my escape and throttling those holidays by the neck when I was on leave.
When I started to head towards thirty, something changed. I wanted that special someone. I wanted the text messages and the calls. The cuddles and the kisses. Holding hands. Being nauseatingly in-love in public, pissing-off all who saw.
I made a list. My now-Husband doesn’t know about the list. Because let’s face it, the list is something all of us girls keep hidden. Whether it’s in your diary, on your blog, in your notes, on your phone or just in your head. We ALL have the list. If you say you don’t, then you’re lying.
For me, my list looked something like this.
Taller than me. Has a job. Brown hair. Kind eyes. Great sense of humour. Likes to travel. Is honest. Is respectful. Hasn’t been married. Doesn’t have kids.
Your list might look like mine, or it may not. No judgement, #womensupportingwomen.
On my 27th birthday, I was out with my girlfriends, far from home. I met a man. He was the perfect man for me. We hit it off straight away. To say it was love at first sight, is an understatement. I KNEW this was the man I was going to marry.
The list wasn’t so much as a role-call as it was a guide. Find a man who doesn’t treat you like shit and wants to hang out with you and only you. The rest, was completely negotiable.
Fast-forward five years and I’m a Step-Mum. My dream man has two kids. Two gorgeous, intelligent, funny and loving kids. It was an adjustment. It wasn’t easy. For any of us. There are many extenuating factors when it comes to being a step-parent.
As much as you love them, you haven’t been a part of their firsts. You haven’t watched them grow. They aren’t yours. Now before you read that as a negative, I need for you to know that it isn’t. It’s anything but. Being a step parent is hard. It’s challenging, heart breaking and rewarding. All at the same time.
Do you know why this love feels insanely pure? It feels pure because there is no biological link. Your steppies are not a part of you. You are not biologically wired to love one another. The maternal instinct cannot be compared to that of a mother. That would not be fair. Unfortunately we have Cinderella to thank for the awful banshee portrayal of a step-mum. Step-dads are painted as self-serving, violent or cruel. Step-mums are painted as jealous, baron, nasty bitches.
We aren’t. When you choose to love children that aren’t yours- it shows dedication, commitment and intentional love. They are an extension of the person you love. When you look closely, you see the physical similarities, you also see the biological traits which do not match your partner. A reminder of where and from whom they were created.
You know what though? Children are innocent. Children do not choose where they come from. They don’t choose their future and they certainly cannot be expected to navigate the complexities that blended families bring.
So, in a painfully long-winded post, let me tell you this. Never shy away from a challenge. Never think that someone with children has “baggage”. You are only doing yourself a disservice. It means you have someone who can love others more than they love themselves. They are raising, loving and protecting kids and that is noble and attractive as HELL.
To my two bonus-kids. I love you. I am proud of you and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Consider me part of your cheerleading team. We all want the best for you both. I love your Dad and I love you. I could not be prouder to call you my bonus-kids xxxx
Are you a step-parent, are you a step-kid? I want to know!
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