If you asked me 11 years ago if I thought I would marry a man with a child from a previous relationship, my answer would’ve been “no”. I say that with the utmost respect, but children were never my thing. I was never clucky or wanting to hang out with children and didn’t believe in having kids outside of wedlock.
Yet here I am, 11 years on, married with a step-son.
As I write this I've just returned from the Fiji - 2017 Oceania Athletics Championship games. My step-son is representing Australia on the track and I’ve come to support him as my family is from Fiji. Which was great as they got to meet him for the first time (he met them before my husband did!!). It was really nice for him to experience a country that I’ve been to so many times in my life and for him to wear the green and gold. I couldn’t be a prouder step-mum.
Now what’s a little out of the norm in this situation is that I’ve been travelling with my step-sons birth mother (yes, my husbands ex!). When people ask for my advice on if they should date someone with a child I let them know how truly difficult it is. It took a level of maturity that I wasn’t ready for which caused many issues in our early relationship - but eventually we got through it. It did take about 6 years for me to finally be at peace with the situation which is a long time to “work things out” but I’m so grateful I did.
I've definitely learnt a lot over the past 11 years. Not only how to become an instant parent but how resilient and tenacious I can be to come to where we all are today. Don't get me wrong - it wasn't an easy ride. But there are no easy roads to somewhere worth going right?
3 things being a step-mum taught me:
The world does not revolve around me. I do talk a lot about taking care of yourself and putting yourself first. There is time for that always. But when I started dating a man with a child, I quickly learnt that I wasn't the number 1 priority and that plans could be dropped if something in his sons schedule changed. I learnt that quick smart! I can't say I was thrilled about it, but I do understand. I'm lucky to have a great dad myself, and my now-husband is also a great dad which is a quality I admire very much.
On the flip side if the "self" life is the life you want, then someone with a child is probably not the best for you. I thought that was me too, but I opened up and gave it a go. Sometimes you just have to go with what feels right.
Blended families can work. When I first started dating my husband I often questioned the whole dynamics of how the blended family worked. There were some nights when he would have dinner with his son, sons mother and step-father - and I just couldn't get my head around it. I imagined these types of situations not to work because the majority of split families - didn't work! But guess what, it can. My husband used to tell me that at the end of the day we need to do what's right for his son, and that's all that mattered. We needed to put all our personal agenda's aside because we are now raising a child. I am lucky to have known my step-son since he was 5 years old (now 17) so I have been there for the majority of his life.
Recently I traveled with my sons mother and we hung out like friends, both our husbands at home. I still think it's a little odd at times, but I know that blended families can work. Together we have raised a magnificent man.
Never say never. I'm definitely the fool here because I always said I would never be with someone who already has a child. I'm not sure what changed to be honest. They say that you find the perfect one when you least expect it - in my case this is true. I wasn't looking for a long term partner, but we just happened to stumble across each other (ahem MySpace), and it all unfolded from there. I'm glad I took that leap of faith and listened to my instinct. Instinct is a human trait and is often the one we should listen to first. It is the start of fight or flight mode and prepares you for what's coming next.