My husband and I have an incredible relationship. We’re happy, it’s wonderful, we are lucky – I think of this every single day.
But marrying a divorced guy with a kid is not a stroll in the park on a spring day. It’s more like sitting in a park watching his son’s soccer game with his ex-wife, thinking about how much he is enjoying coaching his nine-year-old and how he probably won’t enjoy coaching your own child that much because he’ll already have been doing it for six years by that point plus he will be older and who knows if he’ll even want to.
Before we were married I exhausted myself ruminating on it: is this something I/we can handle? Would the tough parts wear us down? Would it be fair to his child? To him? To his child’s mother? Could I be a good stepmom? Could I even BE a stepmom? …Do I want to be a stepmom? How would it make me feel that our first child would be his second? I went through six intense months when I asked myself these questions over and over again. I made myself miserable over it. When I think back to that time, all I can remember is going on lots of runs and taking lots of showers (I took at least two showers a day. That’s too many). But I was determined for it to be a conscious decision. As a child of divorce and as a stepkid, I had no illusions about what we were up against. Being a stepparent isn’t for the emotionally weak and it isn’t fair to the stepkids to go into it lightly.
I grabbed his hand and jumped. We did it. And now I am a wife, mom, and stepmom.
My feelings on it so far? Extremely unhelpful: some of it has been easy and some of it has been hard.
Easy because my stepson is a good kid who handles all of this really well. Easy because my husband and I are so similar that we are on the same page about almost everything and are both easy-going enough that when we are not, it’s not that difficult. I mean- we got married, bought a house, moved, and had a baby within a 12-month period. That’s like three of the biggest divorce-baiting life stressors all packed into a year. That was the easy part.
Are you listening, potential stepparents? THAT WAS THE EASY PART.
Hard because when you marry a divorced guy with a kid, his ex-wife is part of your family and there are many things you can’t do without her input or ok (like, go on a honeymoon or give birth after your due date – very inconvenient for her). Hard because suddenly becoming a parent to a person seven years into his life can be awkward for both of you – you don’t just suddenly fall in love with a kid because of a new, parental role, nor does the kid suddenly fall in love with you (and that’s ok). Hard because the expectations of you as a stepparent (from the world, from your stepkid, from his mother, from your husband, from your in-laws…) are ambiguous and inconsistent. Hard because you are excluded from conversations that affect your life because his ex-wife prefers to keep you out of sight and out of mind unless she needs childcare coverage and then suddenly you’re a full-on parent. Hard because….it’s hard on everyone for different reasons and everyone feels it. Hard because it’s all emotional and emotions are not rational.
I don’t have any answers for you- the answer to every single one of those questions I asked myself is still “I don’t know.” But the questions themselves haven’t failed me. They are correct.
Image credit: rrrrrrrroll