30/08/2011 09:05 BST | Updated 29/10/2011 06:12 BST

Loving Someone Else's Children is the Greatest Gift of All

My beau has three beautiful children. They're over the age of 11 now so independent little people. I have known them for 18 months now and it has been an incredible ride so far.

When I got together with him all my friends warned me off with horror stories - step children who had refused to acknowledge their dad's girlfriend or who had done everything to split them up, including sulking at dinner, crying sick every night so any sex life was doomed.

His kids were nothing like it. Of course it has taken time. My parents stuck together and the idea of them apart was unbearable. I would have taken responsibility. I felt their pain when we picked them up with their little suitcases Friday nights - disorientated and tired from all the changes.So at the beginning it was naturally tense but I just tried to let it all flow. We also stayed in their family home o keep continuity.

Again my wise old friends said I was stepping into the ex's warm slippers and bad vibes would pervade. But little by little we morphed the house into what ee wanted. Initially any change - even rehousing the salt and pepper - seemed enormous to them. I had also lost my dad just before I met them and seeing them with their dad was a mixed bag. I often cried with joy and pain. Then when we gave them a lush green garden, updated bedrooms and a house full of calm they adapted and grew with the house.

Holidays at first were tricky. I was so unused to big family gatherings. Family of four with two girls. Now a teen boy two teen girls and cousins...Means everyone is everywhere. Towels on bathroom floors. Teen squabbles over who was next on the lilo. In a maternal moment I offered to take my beau's youngest daughter to my seaside cottage for a few days. We have a special connection and I was excited about a few days of pink girly fluffiness. It was like a fast track training to motherhood. I think I must have lived through every emotion that a

mother does. I surveyed shops like a hawk for fear of nasty strangers.

One guy in a restaurant gave us a peculiarly friendly look - I gave him a suspicious look back only to be given the menus. But over the few days we both relaxed into the time all together. We mooched in front of the fire, after a long country walk. I made a crumble. Most of all it was lovely to fill a hotwater bottle and make a bed warm and comfy. It was more perfect than perfect.

When we decided to get married I worried it would be all just too much. Too confronting. I nearly called it off for that reason. And my dad would not be there. But one day his youngest asked if she would be a bridesmaid. His other two are also reading a poem and the eldest

giving a speech.

It feels we have built something these days. Of course there are ups and downs. Buy there are many many more ups - cooking together, playing cards (and me magnanimously losing) and the littlest preparing our room for nightime, pulling down the blinds and lighting candles.

The answer? Unconditional Love. Its not that complicated. If you create separation you will get it. I believe in soul families and that you are reunited with family from a past life. I believe my new family is my real family. It's truly that simple. And loving my beau ultimately means loving his children in the same way.