This is a guest blog-post from my better half!:
From an early age I was fairly convinced that I was not well suited for motherhood. I was too selfish. I need to feel appreciated at a level that children cannot provide. I was okay with that, too. I knew that I could live a really exciting and comfortable life without being a mom. I’d have more money to spend, I could make decisions easier, I could focus on my career. Plus, I have nieces and nephews. They filled some of that void. I could spend time with them, love on them, spoil them, and then send them home. I was content.
My ex-husband was easy going about this subject. He would’ve supported whatever decision I landed on. He wanted children. Rightfully so, too. He was born to be a father. He’s one of those really natural parents. You know the type. He doesn’t read parenting books. He doesn’t talk about parenting strategies. He just does it and he does it really well. I knew that if I had children with him, those kids would be extremely lucky. I loved him so much. Still do. If you know him, you can’t NOT love him. He’s great. I figured if I was going to have kids with anyone, it should definitely be him.
Just before our sixth wedding anniversary, I told him I was ready to start trying. It took us less than six weeks (a gift of my super fertile genes, thanks mom!) before we found out we were expecting our first child. We were ecstatic. Believe it or not, I enjoyed pregnancy. The idea that I was growing a human was not lost on me. I treasured those little moments: hearing a heartbeat for the first time, feeling the fluttering kicks, seeing my body grow to fit this little person, holding my son for the first time. And, you know what? I was a more natural mother than I expected to be. I enjoyed my 12-week maternity leave. I was totally in love with our tiny son (#5).
You might be wondering how I got from that place (new motherhood with a wonderful man) to a place where I was leaving my husband and moving in with my best friend and her four children. Well, my friends, stay tuned. That’s a blog topic for another day.
When my partner and I started talking seriously about being together, it was not lost on me that I would be assuming a lot of responsibility for her four children (ages 2, 6, 9, and 11). I thought about this long and hard. I was raised by divorced parents. My dad remarried when I was young. My stepmother was never thrilled about her second husband’s three children. She did not hide those feelings. My mom didn’t remarry, but she had a long-term, live-in boyfriend. He never did figure out where he fit into our lives. Both of these relationships were stressful on my sisters and me. I vowed that I would not put my partner’s children in a similar position. If I was going to be with their mother that meant welcoming them into my life. Fully. Without reservation.
That’s ultimately why we decided that from the beginning that I would be their “other mother.” I’d love to say that the transition was smooth. I’d be sugar coating the truth. It has been mostly good, but there are moments and days when I wonder if I can feasibly do this critical job. I’m trying to give myself the benefit of the doubt here. I had barely adjusted to life with one child. How the heck could I grow quickly enough to accommodate four more kids?! After all, they did not chose this. They did not ask for me. That meant that adjustment was mine to make.
I feel like I went in with a pretty clear idea of the challenge I was facing. For the first several months, I let my partner handle the disciplining. I got to know the kids. I found things about each of them to love. I found that I connected with two of them much faster than the other two. My partner even pointed it out to me. I worked hard to fix that. I’m still working hard.
I make it a priority to spend time with each of them, doing something they love. With #1 it usually involves frozen yogurt or plotting his take over of the world. With #2 any athletic activity works. With #3 it’s a pedicure or baking. With #4 it’s a puzzle or a trip to the playground. I take a genuine interest in the things they care about (thanks to some handy advice from a dear co-worker and friend). With #1 it’s gaming or his plan (which I whole heartedly support and hope to benefit from) to become a multi-millionaire, with #2 it’s hockey or Dice Masters or football, with #3 it’s her friends or her clothes, with #4 it’s easy- tractors, books, bath time, picking out clothes for the day.
Are things perfect? No. Do I have room to grow? Yes. Am I committed to the hard work ahead of me? ABSOLUTELY!! These are kids. Just kids. My kids. They deserve a world full of adults who love them, care for them, and make sure they are provided ample opportunities. That’s my daily mission. And, you know what? It’s a decent mission.