They truly are. I promised a good friend I’d name my next post that. This blog has got about as much to do with white goods as Kanye West has to humility though, so it’s probably false advertising.
This is where it gets a smidge dark.
So as you know, my husband’s daughters moved in with us 2.75 years ago after their natural mother became very ill. I’m sad to say that she succumbed to her illness last year. I won’t dwell on that out of respect for my girls and for their family, except to say that I am truly sorry they will not grow up with their mother, healthy and whole. I will never replace her, nor would I wish to. But I will love them as my own and protect them as I know she would want them to be loved and protected.
I was the girl that was “you’ve got kids? Oh that’s great! We’ll take them to the cinemas and have hallmark type trips, holidays and wonderful blended time. It will be absolutely perfect”.
If you’re that girl right now I have one word for you. “HA”.
If you’re in the middle of it (stay strong, keep a bottle of wine for when the visit is over) you know it just ain’t that simple.
Some people gloss over step-parenting like it’s super great. Those people are either robots, or their pants are on fire. It’s fucking shit. No bones about it. Terrible scenes.
Maybe like 2% of people in the history of stepparents everywhere have experienced a nirvana where the ex is a stable, giving, not jealous person, or the exes get on and are even friends. Lucky bastards.
I say this as a child of a “broken home” where my parents both remarried people who had been married. That’s a lot of step kids. I like to think I was a model one (probably wasn’t, I was a dick then, I’m more of one now), my step siblings were assholes. My elder brother was an asshole (now he’s not, he’s a super human being who loves trees and animals and other humans, essentially he got all of the good stuff. He’s tall too. God I hate him). I saw first hand how terrible it was for my dad’s new wife to have us, especially when she went on to have my half sister who was extremely poorly as a baby. I hated her then, now I can sympathise, we were invading her love nest, bringing noise, toys and an unwelcome reminder that my dad had fallen in love before her, even worse at a time when she must have wanted to bed down with her little family unit. My mother was the same towards my stepdads kids, I in turn became resentful of them. He was my dad, how dare they invade our space? How dare they be around because he only ever loved my mum, right?
And that is the crux of the matter. Because at one point, the guy, or girl you love, has loved someone else. Or at least liked them enough to make the beast with them. The envy and irrational feelings towards the products of those relationships is jealousy. I used to joke that my girls were out of a tube, because it was easier than facing the fact that my husband had sex with someone else before me. I mean, no one ever dwells on the exes, but when you have living proof of them, it’s pretty difficult to ignore.
Christ I grew to hate those weekends. My awesome plans were torn up, the kids wanted their dad. Of course they did. I was 20 and so naive, I wanted to be a “bonus mom”, be the cool person they told stuff to, sleep in sleeping bags on the floor as a big happy family. I wanted to succeed where my parents failed. Yup. Never happened.
I got pregnant. First strike. I slept in the same room as their dad. Second strike. I didn’t have soup out of a can, but orange soup from veg and a pan, my carpet looked especially nice with that on top (!) big strike.
I tried, God but I tried. Until I just didn’t. I’m not sure when the turning point came, maybe the birth of P? Maybe our wedding where one child was kept at home by their mum? Maybe when they stopped coming regularly? I’m not sure. But I gave up. I’m ashamed of it now but then, in a way I was glad, I could get on with my little family, I could have that family life I so wanted.
What a selfish, stupid person I was. But I know any step parent out there will be inwardly acknowledging those feelings. Let me tell you something guys, I hear you. You selfish bastards.
These children didn’t ask to be the products of broken homes, they didn’t ask to be shunted different ways on alternate weekends. They want their parents to be together. You are the interloper and don’t you dare to treat them as if they are. You made the choice to be with a person with children. You could have walked away, at any time. Yes it might have hurt, but if you are going to treat an innocent child as an outsider, well, you deserve to be hurt.
I only got this when the girls moved in. It was a harsh lesson in humanity. I had a very, very tough time with it. Still am actually, but mainly the “fuck, I’ve got four kids, and I’m not even ready to be an adult” kind of time. It’s not easy, but it’s so utterly rewarding. I’m so incredibly lucky to have these beautiful, caring, delightful young women in my life. I cherish them every day and regret the time that we pushed each other away.
Still, I’ve had exceptionally dark times, lost friends, lost opportunities, relationships with friends have changed so they don’t even know me as me. I’m slowly emerging with the help of this blog, actually opening up to people (not aided by prosecco) and accepting that “it’s ok to not be okay”.
That was by a very wise friend of mine, and was the key opener to talk about how I felt, instead of pretending to be super mum. No one is super mum, we are all just doing our best.
I want to get back to “me” but I’m not kidding myself, I’ll never be the old me again. For one thing I can’t handle vodka these days, probably less related to the kids than age, and my life IS different, of course I’ve changed, I just want it to be for the better. My kids deserve that and so do I.