See that beautiful redhead in my picture? Yup, that is my redheaded stepchild. I joke about it because I think it is funny and totally ironic that I actually have a redheaded stepchild! I absolutely love her, but let me tell you, it is hard being a stepmom.
I started dating my husband when he had been separated from his ex-wife for a few months. His daughter was about nineteen months old at the time. Mark and I worked for the same employer back in the day, so I had met his daughter here and there when he’d bring her to work for a visit, or at a happy hour. Yes, he was the guy that brought a baby to the bar! No judging please. He was responsible for all the daycare drop offs and pick ups and he would go pick her up, then come back downtown to socialize and show her off. He is a very responsible guy!
So, I knew he had a daughter and thought she was really sweet. I also knew that dating a man who was going through a divorce AND had a daughter was a sticky situation, but there was something about him that I couldn’t stay away from. Actually, I know what it was about him….he was tall, dark, handsome, smart, well put together, funny, and seeing the way he was when he was with his daughter turned me in to a big puddle of mush. I fell hard and I fell hard fast. But, there was always the notion in the back of my mind that dating him would be complicated. I’d never dated a dad before. I had never dated a guy who had been previously married before. I did not meet his daughter as his official girlfriend for quite some time. We wanted to make sure we were very serious before any introductions took place. When I did meet her and start seeing her regularly, I took on the mantra of being the cool buddy type of figure that made her laugh, helped her with things, and never did any sort of disciplining. That was Mark’s job and I did not want to get in the way. When his ex-wife found out we were dating, all hell broke loose. I decided to stay out of things and if I ever had to see her I would kill her with kindness. That always works, right?
Fast forward two years later. Mark and I got married and I officially became a stepmom. Mark has 50% legal custody and 50% physical custody which means that MK lives with us 50% of the time. We have such a good relationship, that over time MK began to call me Mom. It happened naturally and authentically and I never once suggested that she do that. It just happened. She has never really known a time when I wasn’t in the picture because I met her when she was so young. I do not correct her when she calls me Mom because I want her to do what she feels comfortable with. I also do not correct her when she calls me Nicki (the nick name I grew up with and what Mark and all my family and friends call me). However, her mom corrects her when she calls me Mom. On one hand I understand how it might be hard to have your daughter call someone else Mom, but on the other hand, she should be an adult and realize that although it didnt work out with her and Mark, the next best thing is to have someone love and care for her daughter (and have her daughter love and care for someone else) enough to have that mother/daughter bond.
Mark and I now have two more kids with one on the way! The kids love their big sister, and she loves them! Just last night MK came home after being with her mom for a week and her sister and brother were just beside themselves when she walked in the door. It’s like they didn’t know how to contain their excitement and were running around the kitchen island like little crazy people with huge smiles on their faces! My son (17 months) kept running up to MK, giving her a kiss, then ran away squealing and took another spin around the island. Those are the times I relish in. Those are the times that I feel like one big happy family. Those are the times I try to remember when shit hits the fan and being a stepmom sucks.
I didn’t grow up dreaming of falling in love with a divorced father of one. My happily ever after did not include a difficult ex wife, no decision rights on things that affect my family’s time, financials, and sanity, or stressing about how much I go in to when people ask me “how many kids do you have?”. However, everything happens for a reason. Mark is my soulmate. Even though I was not able to write my own fairy tale, I am making the best of the one that I am living. Some days are great, and some days are not. And, this is the place I will give everyone insight into my happily imperfect ever after.