Completely from a different perspective but I really don’t think there’s enough out there written about the difficulties and joy, don’t get me wrong, of being not only a mum but a step mum too!
My wonderful, loving and supportive husband and I have been together for almost 12 years and married for almost ten. Yes we have survived! Both second marriages and probably blinded by love in the early days but believe you me, we are lucky that we had that in spades as if we didn’t I’m sure we would’ve become the horrid stat that is second marriage failures!!
Moving some 600km after a somewhat whirlwind, 6 month romance, I relocated with my then 5 and 8 year old to start a new life. Full of optimism and excitement, this was going to be the best thing that I did….for myself and my children….
Reality quickly set in when the complications, challenges and plain hard work of blending two very different families set in. I swear that in our first month “in the big smoke”, I could’ve packed it all in and headed the 600km back up the highway about 20 times with my son and daughter. From dealing with two other dependants, being called my husband’s ex wife’s name (not by him thankfully) one time too many, new schools, different schedules – from homework to sport and bedtimes, a new extended family and not to mention settling two wide eyed little ones into an entirely new world, away from everything they had ever known and loved, it was TOUGH! The guilt in those early days was second to none.
A few years ago an acquaintance of ours said to me, “how did you guys get it so right???!!” I was stunned and quickly set her straight as at no time in my life have I wanted people to think we were perfect. I told her so. Matter of factly I informed her that I would not have our first year over for all the money in the world. A time where other first marriage couples cherish and years later even long to get back, I was telling her the opposite!!
Trying to maintain equality amongst four little bodies who have external factors (other parents and families specifically!) influencing their every move and thought, while trying to grow and learn and present a united front as a couple and parents/step parents, it is so very difficult.
In saying all of this and fast forwarding through the many arguments, tears and biting our tongues, not to mention lawyers, exes and way too much wasted money, I now know that the struggles were worth it.
For other newly separated couples, be civil. You definitely don’t need to be friends and believe you me, neither my husband and I are with our exes, but your actions seriously only affect the youngest. Your children. And they didn’t ask for any of this. Be firm and fight the hard fight for things that matter. In years to come your refusal to pay for that school blazer, pales in significance to the time and love that you have shown your children. Both biological and inherited. Don’t try to replace their mother or father. They (generally) have one of them. Accept and understand and know when to walk away. It’s a roller coaster and sometimes may take years for the resentment and hurt to subside. It does. Believe me. And when it does, hopefully there’s plenty of time to go where you can enjoy your “modern family”.
Remember too that you can’t take things out on the children. Step children or your own.
Because 100 times out of 100 they would rather be back in their previous seemingly normal lives, under the same roof as their mum and dad. Be fair and treat the children as the little unique individuals that they are.
We did plenty wrong in those early days and if I could rewind and change some things, I would. But we are here. We are strong and we have a uni student, 2 in their final year of school and a very wise 14 year old.
It gets easier. It really does. Don’t rush things. Don’t force things. But above all else accept and love. Those two things go a long way.