I am a stepmother. I became a stepmother at 19 when I married Mr Potato Head. At the time, his children were 6 and 5 respectively. I loved those children as though they were my own (and I still do). Even when I divorced Mr Potato Head, I never lost touch with them. To this day, we still have a wonderful relationship. For that, I am very thankful.
When I remarried, my new husband came with two children of his own. They were 16 and 13 respectively. Because I had already been a stepmother before, I thought I knew what I was in for. I was fully prepared to have the same type of amazing relationship with my new stepchildren as I had with my first stepchildren. Unfortunately, it did not happen.
My husband is an easy going person. He does not like confrontation in any form and will avoid it as much as he can. When he divorced Mrs Potato Head, he felt the children would be best served if they remained with their mother. He was thinking only of what would be in the best interests of his children. He made sure to pay more than what was Court-Ordered for child support. He tried to do right by his children to the best of his abilities.
Mrs Potato Head was content and happy as long as my husband went along with whatever she said or decided. It was she who said when he could come for visits. She told him where he could and could not take the children during/for his visitation. To keep the peace and to not make waves, my husband went along with it.
She absolutely HATED the fact he had gotten remarried. When she found out I had three children, her feelings only intensified. Almost from the moment she found out we were married, she began to spew venom and fill the children’s heads with poison. She was constantly telling them their father no longer loved them or wanted them. (We did not find this out until many years later.)
I am an Alpha Female. There was, and is, no way in Hell I was going to stand by and watch her (or anyone else) railroad my husband. After much discussion between him and I , he agreed it would be best to bring his two to Michigan to visit and get to know their new step family. Mrs Potato Head was having none of it. She turned up the intensity of her venom.
In the end, the poison she injected into them caused an estrangement between my husband and his children. His daughter was estranged from November 1998 – November 2004. His son was estranged from November 1998 – November 2011.
A couple months ago, I came across a folder with a transcribed partial phone conversation between my husband and Mrs Potato Head from 29 April 1999 and the letter I had written in response to the ones they wrote to their father basically telling him to get fucked from 10 December 1998.
Both items reminded me of the hell my husband lived through during those years. Living through that time was hard. Even though we had my three, it did not make up for his children. It was as though his heart was incomplete. When his daughter reached out to him in 2004, one could see him becoming almost whole. He is beyond happy his son now wants him involved in his life.
My husband is an amazing man. He does not see ‘his’ and ‘hers’ when it comes to the five children. He only sees ‘ours.’ I, on the other hand, do not seem to have that ability. A lot of it stems from the fact that I was not able to establish a relationship with them from the beginning of our marriage. I know this. And yet . . .
I struggle with being a good stepparent. There is a part of me who has yet to forgive my stepchildren for the deep, devastating pain they put my husband in and through. I am always on guard because I am unsure if something is going to happen or someone is going to say something and the tenuous re-connection will be lost. When it comes to my loved ones, I am worse than a Mama Grizzly Bear. I am a FIERCE protector.
My stepdaughter and I have established a fairly decent relationship. It took three years (after my husband and she re-connected) before we got there, though. My stepson and I, well . . . It is still at the beginning stages (and it’s been five years).
Maybe I struggle because I am jealous of the wonderful relationship my husband has with all five children. Hell, he even has a wonderful relationship with my first stepchildren! I do not know. What I do know, is I will continue to work on it.
Blending two completely separate and different families can be amazing and wondrous. Blending two completely separate and different families can be difficult and complicated. And sometimes, it is a little bit of everything. Making a successful family boils down to the two at the helm – the parents. There are no right ways and no wrong ways to unite the families. It takes time and a whole lot of love . . .