I'm a stepmum, even though I hate calling myself that because it conjures up images of an evil stepmother that I sincerely hope I am not! My relationship with my stepson is very special to me. When we met we took things really slow, as I never wanted to just impose myself in his life. I also very much wanted him to still have his weekend time with his Dad. Gradually over time, we got to know each other and enjoyed watching gameshows on Challenge and making fun of his Dad, who would pretend to not know what Instagram or Facebook was (he finds this highly amusing).
When we decided to have a baby, the worry surrounding my relationship with him grew. Because the love we have for each other is unlike a mother-son relationship. It's conditional. He doesn't have to love me, or even like me for that matter. He may choose one day to see me as the reason his parents aren't together. These irrational worries would build up in my mind, as I could feel our little baby kick in my belly. I was faced with so many unknowns. So many questions I didn't have the answers to.
A year on, I often reminisce about those early days. The chaos of me trying so hard to crack it with the breastfeeding, while also feeling guilty that what would usually be a fun Saturday night was reduced to tears and tension. What I underestimated totally was the love that my stepson feels for our family. This is something that to this day blows me away and makes me feel so lucky. I had worried that it have made life too different, but in the end it was the best thing that happened to us.
There are no halves between the two of them. The only steps are the ones that lead up to our bedrooms. The first thing he ever said to his sister whilst holding her in hospital was "I love you" and that sums it all up. The bond they have is completely unique - he is still to this day the only person who can make our little lady laugh from her belly. He is utterly devoted to her, and we are all devoted to our family, the unit that makes us strong.
Sure, there have been times when it has been hard - it's often a bit of a logistical juggling act and we've had to get even better than we thought we were at communicating. But I look around our little family and realise that everyone is trying hard to make it work, to make everyone under this roof happy. What makes it work is that little bit more patience here or there, an extra smile, or even just leaving the washing up for a moment so we can all chat together. It's knowing that we didn't have to be a happy family, we've chosen to be.
So what does being a step-mum mean to me? It means everything.
This article first appeared on Bridie By The Sea