I married my husband when I was 29. Being older than most women when they marry, I knew that I would more than likely end up meeting and marrying a man with at least one child. I accepted this and never had a problem with the idea of a stepchild.
My oldest daughter was eight years old when I married her father. She was living with her mother, and we only saw her every Wednesday night and every other weekend. It was challenging to develop a relationship with her that felt stable. I was well aware that there was bad blood between her mother and my husband. Unfortunately, that is an all too common situation in split families. This bad blood caused some road blocks in establishing the relationship I desired with Big S.
The first few years felt to me like all I was to my daughter was a woman she thought was pleasant, but took attention away from her since she was an only child. She had been the only significant person in her father’s life for a few years before I stepped in. There were some growing pains. Her mother raised her quite differently than I would have, and I struggled to understand some of her behaviors and expectations. Likewise, Big S didn’t know how to handle my kind of personality.
When I began my marriage, I had the intention of liking her mother. I knew of the details surrounding the divorce. I felt that those details were between my husband and his ex. If I were to have a good relationship with my new child, I needed to have a friendly relationship with her mother. I did not go into this marriage thinking for a second that I was going to replace her mom. I was well aware that that type of relationship does not work. Over time her mother left me reaching for straws when trying to see eye to eye. My intentions to get along with her crashed and burned, destroying all hope, and I instead had to just deal with her more on a business level.
Big S and I butted heads for a while, but when push came to shove, we did alright. We were able to establish a relationship of trust and general respect. I promised to tell her the truth at all times so we could have an open door to any topic she wanted to discuss.
Over time her mother betrayed, to an extent, the trust of Big S and she decided it was in her own best interest to move in with her father and me. Shortly after she moved in with us, we moved out of state and away from her mother. The separation from Big S and her mother brought about discussion for working on their relationship.
I will admit that it was nice to feel like I was now Big S’s mother. Before I felt like I was just the mom of her little sisters. Even though part of me loved the idea of laying complete claim to this amazing child, I knew that it was in the best interest of Big S to find a way to mend the relationship with her mother.
Over time Big S was able to start enjoying her time with her mother again. She can now leave the comfort of our home and we know that she will have fun. We don’t worry that she’ll spend the entire visit fighting. I had to set aside my fears of losing her after just gaining her entirely. I also had to constantly remind myself of the healthy and loving relationship we had formed. It was important to let go enough so she could find happiness again in all aspects of her life.
Being a step-parent is far from easy. One must take many different layers into consideration. One has to put away their emotions towards a situation that doesn’t involve them and think of the child or children involved. It hurts the child when hate is coming out of the mouths of someone they love towards another person they love. Having a step-parent should be a blessing to the child. It should mean more love going towards a child who has lived in a broken home. A child shouldn’t have to feel loyalty to only one side of their family. As long as the child is not in any form of danger, they should be allowed to visit their parent without any stress put upon them. It’s not easy, but every child deserves constant support and love. The reward is well worth the effort.