When I moved across the country, I met this guy. There was just something about him. Could not put my finger on it, but he captured my heart. From the very beginning I knew that he had children, a boy and a girl, and they were the most important part of his life. I met them a few weeks after we started dating.
Over the last 8.5 years we have been through a lot of adjusting, learning and testing things out. I was not entirely sure what to expect and how I should act. What was my role in their lives? What was my responsibility? How was I supposed to help? Was I a co-parent or just an extra adult in their lives? Where do I fit?
The first few years we were together, I went through the motions of needing more than your normal amount of attention. Which is hard when you are dating a person with children. It is a challenge because they have limited time and energy, and their kids are bound to come first. It was hard only seeing him a day or two during the week, and then every other weekend being together all four of us, and me not knowing where I fit into the equation. I felt like an outsider, and it was incredibly uncomfortable.
I had always wanted to be a mom. Struggling with infertility was a hard pill to swallow, but I had resided myself to accepting that I would most likely never have a child of my own. No one who would run to the door yelling “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” and I would not have that unexplainable, unbreakable bond with a child.
Before my mental breakdown and diagnosis of Bipolar in January 2016, I was strict and stern. I was always stressed out and not that much fun. I expected the kids to act like little robots. I was so wound tight that I didn’t let them be the kind of kids that they really needed to be. I am certain they were not my biggest fan, for a good portion of time.
However, after my breakdown, my time out on medical leave and going into treatment (along with finally being on the correct types of medication) I was able to be me. I am a fun loving, silly person. When I was in a stable place, I was able to control my thoughts, process the anxiety, and mind my tongue. I was able to be consistent, yet loving, structured, yet understanding. Although now basically teenagers, I could let the kids be kids.
I still struggle at times with the attention aspect of things, I am a bit high maintenance. But now I can vocalize my needs and ask for what I want. I still, at times, feel left out and like an outsider. Because, you know what, I am. But, I have a very special relationship with my kids. I am not their mom, nor their dad. I am their Michelle. It’s hard to put into words what we have, it’s just what it is. The role of a Michelle, is better formulated now. I have a clearer idea of what I am supposed to be to the family.
I am a step parent. My world changed when the kids and their father entered my life. I have chosen to give up things and make sacrifices because of the love that I have for this family, just like I would have had I had my own children. My life has been made better since having this trio in my life. But, on the flip side, step parenting has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. But anything worth having is worth fighting for. And the fight is worth it. I have the more happiness and contentment in my life, a new purpose, I’m playing the part I feel I was always intended to play.
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