You know the story as well as I do, the stereotypical Cinderella-like-step parent who resented the very presence of you. The kind that begrudged you the air you breathed and forced you to the confines of your bedroom unless you were of any use to them. That was my understanding of what a step parent was.
When I was little, I wasn’t your typical girly girl and this didn’t change much over time. I was the sort of child (my mum will confirm) you would find in a pretty white dress, playing with the ashes from a bonfire. The type of little girl who enjoyed being outdoors. Who for fun dug up worms and caught the frogs that were always found behind the wooden shed at the bottom of the garden. I was the girl that was nicknamed Rambo and Rebel by her family, the girl that never sat down, who was always jumping around barefoot, shouting ferociously and loved to climb trees.
I was quite the mud-pie-making professional.
As I grew into a young lady, I never really showed much interest in boys. My tomboyish ways continued, I never saw myself married or having children for a long time. I still spent hours cartwheeling and hand standing in the back garden. This did all change and in my late teens, I found myself in a ‘step’ parent type role and like all the fairy tales I had read growing up, it was hard work. I felt an enormous shift in dynamics when Riley and Sonny were born and that made it harder.
People change as they get older and so do their dreams and aspirations. I wanted more from life than what I was settling for and walking away from the confines I had set myself was scary, but I did it and I’ve never looked back. One thing remained the same for me. I never understood the importance or desire of getting married.
Even that was about to change!
You see, until then I had wasted my time, energy and kind nature on all the wrong kinds of people, in a desperate search for a feeling of safety, security and belonging.
All of what came before you, I don’t look back on with any fondness at all. The moment I met you, I knew my life would change significantly. I knew I could move on to a whole new chapter and work to become a better person.
From the very beginning, you loved and cared for my children like they were your very own and I’ll be honest, that took me aback. It wasn’t in the big gestures like buying them things they needed and taking us on fun adventures, it was in all the little things.
I loved the way my nicknames for them flowed effortlessly off the tip of your tongue and how they would chase you around calling your name. It was the way you nibbled their toes and pretend to pass out from the stench of their feet, even though they didn’t smell at all. It was the way in which you snuggled together on the sofa with the iPad while stroking their hair the same way I do.
You formed a friendship with my children and they trusted you. You cared for and nurtured them in the same way a father does his own. I loved to observe quietly from a distance, watching the bond between my love and my unconditional-loves strengthen.
I fell pregnant with Zachary and while we were both happy, there was one worry I couldn’t quite shake.
Would having a child of your own change the way you felt about them? Would you resent them or me?
You gave me no reason to feel anxiety. In fact, quite the opposite.
I was so sick with hyperemesis in those first few months and you took care of them, you took them to school and woke up to them at night. You never shielded my growing tummy, your unborn child from them. Instead you encouraged them to bond with who was soon to be their baby brother. When I was under the weather you took them out to play so I could shut my tired eyes and rest my aching body. I was heavily pregnant and suffering with severe SPD and you got down on the floor with them at the end of each and every day, whether or not you had a tough and exhausting day yourself.
There’s a lot of bonding going on here.
It takes someone special to take on a child and love them like they are your own. You did this, not just for one but two young boys and I hope you know how grateful I am.
When Zachary was born, nothing changed. You love them all equally and no one could ever tell they weren’t yours. You go to work and provide for us, you put food on our table and clothes on our backs. You ferry us around in your taxi… a very appreciated taxi I must add. You stay all hours with us in A&E when we are sick even if it means dozing upright on an uncomfortable chair at gone 2:00 am.
Sonny is very poorly at the moment with Henoch-Scholein Purpura.
You don’t deny Autism. You understand it. You embrace it. You share silly blog posts of mine like these because it means a lot to me. You truly believe that we know what is best for Sonny. You show interest in everything we do. You are there for every meeting, every parents evening, school play and sports day and I see your heart mirror the way mine bursts.
You are their positive male role model. You teach them how to earn a living, how to raise a family, how to love, respect and support their mother.
We drive you to the edge of your sanity most days and still you stay.
I don’t like the term ‘step’. To me it feels undermining of the brilliant job you actually do.
For the first time in a very long time, I am safe, I am secure and I belong with you.
And maybe we’ll get married someday soon,
…just when I stop spending all your money right?