From a post for the Stepfamily Network.
As I was trying to locate addresses for my stepdaughter’s wedding guest list, I came across my own guest list. It brought back memories of a picturesque day. The sun was bright in the late summer sky, the red roses were fragrant, everyone was laughing and dancing. And it was good.
What came after was not for the faint of heart.
You see, my parents made stepparenting and co-parenting look relatively easy. My mother had primary custody and my father had us on weekends and visited throughout the week. It was not unusual for my dad to join our dinner table not just for holiday dinners, but for the random Thursday night spaghetti meal as well. Graduations were spent together. My stepdad visited my dad while in the hospital and pledged to take care of us kids if anything happened.
My early days as a wife and stepmother could not be mistaken for those uncomplicated days that my parents, all of my parents, created. My husband’s ex-wife did not ask for custody of the children. Therefore, my husband was a full-time dad to three thus gifting me with three full-time stepchildren. Quite the shift for a single gal with a house, two cars, cute shoes and loads of free time to practice Selfishness 101.
The challenges of a new marriage were compounded by adolescent angst and ex-wife eruptions.
Not only was I new stepmom, I was a new stepmom to TEENAGERS. Homework, puberty, sex talks, laundry battles, driving lessons, hormones, meal planning, basketball games, volleyball games, family vacations, discipline….
While a quick phone call could settle a matter in my family of origin, no phone numbers were exchanged in my new stepfamily. No conversations about carpooling or basketball trips. No Christmas gift decisions or discussions about who will pay for what. Nothing.
So I put on my big girl panties, dug deep and went to work. I researched, I studied, I talked to friends, I found stepmom mentors, I cried to my husband. And then, I just loved on them.
I’m grateful for what I learned from those books and blogs and humans too. Still, nothing could equate to experience. The life lessons learned from being in the trenches are unequaled. I have the battle scars to prove it.
Yet, these days I’m more often reminded of the great memories. I sat on bleachers, laughed at my stepson’s jokes, answered entertaining questions, rode Disney rides, drove golf carts, saw the Eiffel Tower, all with my stepchildren beside me. Today, they are all young adults, making their way in the world equipped with morals and values that I helped shape.
No, I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a stepmom. What little girl does? I could not have foretold all of the difficulties that lay ahead for me when I met my husband and married him that long ago September day. For me, however, it was the perfect landing spot for a young woman who fell in love with a man with three children. That I would choose to do all over again.