Being a stepmom is the most difficult title I’ve ever held. Let me give you a little back story. I was married at a young age to a man who had a 10 month old son. After more than 10 years together, I made the difficult decision to leave the marriage. Sometimes when you get married young, you grow apart instead of growing together. It was unfortunate, but I had dreams and goals and I was never going to reach them if I stayed. As a couple, we were going in different directions. We had arranged for me to stay in the little boy’s life after our divorce, but other circumstances stood in our way. Losing my relationship with a boy who I loved as my own hurt in a way I can’t put into words. While we do not have a relationship anymore, we have stayed in touch through the years. He’s a young man in his first year of college and I’ve been cheering him on from a distance. His mother and I are Facebook friends, so I’ve gotten to watch him grown into the young man he is. His mom did a great job raising him! And while he’ll probably never know how much he meant to me and how hurt I was when I was told I couldn’t see him anymore, I will always hold a special place in my heart for him.
I swore I’d never date a man with kids again because I didn’t want to experience that kind of pain again. But in walked Alex, and as hard as I tried to resist him (because he has two kids from a previous marriage), I fell deeply in love. His kids were 18 and 5 when we met. His 18 year old and I became very close even though my heart urged me not to. We stayed up late playing with makeup and talking. We were friends and she was excited her dad and I were getting married. Then I met her mother, and everything changed. She turned on me in a way I didn’t see coming. Then she turned on her dad. It was heartbreaking for both of us. I can’t imagine the pain my husband feels losing his relationship with his daughter. For me, it was like pouring salt in a wound. It opened up the scars I had from before.
And then there’s Justin, an 8 year old little boy caught in the middle of a shit storm. My heart is guarded against getting close to him, but I’m trying. My therapist and I are working on this, but it’s a slow process for me. His mom and sister speak badly of me to him. They tell him I’m not his boss and he doesn’t have to listen to me, so he’s very defiant with me. I get frustrated with the situation. Kids should never be put in the middle of grown-up problems. Justin is friendly with my mom and sisters and looks froward to seeing them, which is wonderful! But when he has to be home alone with me while Alex is at work, he has an air of misery about him. He stays in his room mostly. He doesn’t want to be near his little brother because he has heard people say bad things about him. It’s just an all around difficult situation. I try to do nice things for him. I buy him nice clothes so he doesn’t have to wear the clothes that are two sizes too big that he comes over in. I make sure we have his favorite snacks stocked in our pantry. I try to get him to open up and play with his brother. Some days are better than others and we are definitely a work in progress.
Being a stepmom is tough. You’re stuck in this place between being a parent and being a stranger. And when the other parent doesn’t encourage the relationship, it’s extra difficult. I didn’t realize it at the time but my ex’s “baby momma” was amazing! She encouraged her son to have a loving relationship with me. We would sit and talk at ball games like old friends and it made the little boy so happy! I’m embarrassed now that I let others sway my opinion of her. She is a lovely woman who raised an amazing son. I wish Alex’s ex was more like that, but from what I understand, her personality is different. This time I didn’t let others sway my opinion. I have tried opening up communication with her myself, and it was a no-go. I’m not bashing the woman in any way. She is entitled to her opinions. I just hate that an innocent little boy is stuck in the middle of a difficult situation. Kids deserve to just be kids; to be happy and not have to stress about grown-up things. And unfortunately, Justin worries about grown-up things, to the point that it’s affecting his sleep when he’s with us. But this stepmom is trying to make things comfortable for him, no matter how difficult the situation may be.
My heart is damaged from the past. The present is sticky. But the future is bright and happy and I’m determined to get us there.