Gaining a step-daughter changed me. And I liked it.

Guest post by Christina

Christina, her husband, and her beautiful step-daughter.
Christina, her husband, and her beautiful step-daughter.
Not to brag here, but kids love me. Babies reach out their arms for me, toddlers wipe their sticky little hands on my pants, the older kids wanted me to play and read.

Me? Not so much. I always likened this to the way cats behave. Cats seem to know who doesn’t like them and then they rub and weave around that person’s legs. Kids and me the same thing.

I love my parents, but I just never thought that I would want to be one myself. Then I met a guy who already had a girl in his life. A seven year old girl to be exact, who called him daddy and required a story at bedtime every night.

I knew my husband had a child long before we started dating. He asked what I thought about kids, I replied they were fine as long as they weren’t mine. His response, “You could practice by being a step-mom.” I was very skeptical. Little people seemed like a lot of trouble. Plus, what if I messed one up?

He really enjoyed being a parent and was willing to let me share in that special part of his life. I really liked him, so I gave the kid thing a try. I was honored, curious, and scared to death. She didn’t bite or kick, just hid behind her dad’s leg and held his hand. Then one day she held mine.

It snuck up on me. I began to really like it. Really, really like it. Also, I was pretty good at it. She liked me, and I liked her hugs and kisses. I liked the completely distorted pictures she drew of me and the way she wanted her hair-do to match mine.

I also loved the way my guy loved her. I could make him laugh, but he sang songs for her. And as I got more used to little hands and stuffed animals, I began to fall in love all over again. I fell in love with her, but also more in love with him.

Now, it is not all cotton candy and ice cream. There are tantrums, tears and fights, and that is just me. It is hard being a parent (type person) and I don’t even do it full time. I miss uninterrupted movies and always knowing where my scissors (and glue and glitter) are.

I didn’t have my husband for a few years and then let the babies come. I jumped in with both feet, and got really wet. We all had to adjust. She had to learn how to share her daddy with me, he had to learn to trust me with his child, and I had to learn how to share a partner with someone whose needs came before my own.

That was one of the hardest things to adjust to. There is no number one. But she is a kid and I am an adult. She needs a lot more help taking care of herself than I do, and I don’t always handle it with grace or poise.

I hate sleeping alone while he is sleeping in the chair next to her bed to scare away the monsters. I don’t always think it is fair that she gets to go to camp, soccer, and art class when I can’t buy those gorgeous heels. But, how can you argue when our fridge is covered in one of a kind artwork?

I still get to do things for myself and I do get a lot of couple time with my husband. He is aware that this is a big lifestyle change for me. I went from one to three without stopping at go. He makes sure to tell me when I am doing it right and consults me before decisions are made. He knows that choosing them was a major change in my life plan.

Step Mother mug BeesMugShop

After two years I am still not sure what I am doing. I am afraid I am going to mess her little brain up. But, I make her smile and laugh. She tells me secrets that just the two of us share. She gets mad at me and I get frustrated with her.

I traded in some of the nights out and freedoms for sleepovers and bedtime stories. I gave up some of the partying and foolishness and I got a family. I am not sure how I ended up married to a man with a child. I fell in love I guess, with both of them.

Comments on Gaining a step-daughter changed me. And I liked it.

    • I completely know that even though it can be scary it is sooo worth it . I miss mine terribly , she was 3 and had mommy issues because she wasn’t around and her dad a young very confused father 26 years old still focused on himself and dreams of being into a fast lifestyle . I was only 18 lived a very selfish lifestyle myself; I never in my dreams thought I could muster up mommy material . Oh but how she changed me. I grew into someone that was brave when she sick and in pain , felt unselfish to buy
      her toys r us toys instead of going out ,more responsible for my actions as I
      wanted her to learn and a love that I
      have never felt . I taught her everything
      I wished my mother had taught me and
      more. Now this was no easy task in the
      beginning she threw temper tantrums
      in the store at home well everywhere
      she had never known discipline until
      me. I guess I had a better grasp from
      my own experience . It’s alot easier for both to just keep the peace , but how will she ever be comforted? She should not feel like she has to make decisions on her own , she is not in the wilderness cooking her own food. She is a child with growing morals and needs guidance for when she is able to have her own judment . which actually she loved and felt more secure than anything you could have ever bought her. She actually learned to trust in someone. Even more spectacular it was me . I was stepmom tough not giving in as quickly because of the puppy eyes it did help but I loved her because to me she was mine . I gave everything I didn’t even know I had to her . She was my little girl and i was her mommy. I haven’t seen her in 2 1/2 years and I though time would heal but I can’t ever go more than a few days of my everyday hectic life without missing her and I know she is my first true love and it is true you never forget it

  1. As a child who grew up with a step-parent who did not handle the challenges with quite as much style and grace, I really appreciated this article. Your step-daughter is a lucky little girl. 🙂

  2. I totally heart your story. You encapsulated the intsa-mum thing really beautifully. BTW don't worry too much about screwing the kid up, you've clearly got a brilliant heart.

  3. Great read. My mom married her elementary school crush 7 years ago, and my stepdad went from a swinging bachelor to a stepfather for three. It's been rough at times, but I know the five of us have loved it so much, and cherish having each other in our lives. It was so great reading this article from that perspective, and I will probably send this to others I know in similar family situations.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I too became an insta mom and it has been a fun, enlightening, and frustrating four years. I’ve still got lots to learn, but I try my best and I just hope that when she grows up she’ll be understanding of my wackyness and know that I love her. Its great to know there are other women out there who get it!

  5. i loved reading this. i was a single mom of 3 girls under 4 yrs old when my knight in shining armor came into our lives last year. we just gave birth to a baby boy and are planning the wedding for next fall. yay for happy endings and beginnings

  6. What a wonderful perspective. So glad I found this blog!
    Reading this made me think of Kathleen who sent us her story about becoming a stepmom. She talks about her initial uncertainty, and then with her husband’s help learning to follow her heart and now absolutely LOVING being a stepmom.
    Below is a link to her video. I hope you like it as much as I do. Take care.

  7. As a stepdaughter myself, I loved this article! My mother passed away when I was very little and when my dad remarried, I had no idea what an impact this new woman would make on my life. To this day (and even though her and my dad are now divorced) she is my best friend and truly 'mom'. It makes me so happy to see that other girls are going to be given the same chance I had to make a one-of-a-kind lifetime friend.

  8. I have been the third parent to my beautiful step-daughter for almost a year and a half. She is amazing, I wouldn't change my husband having her for anything.

    Shared parenting is rough on everyone. We miss her when she isn't here, and keeping things consistent in her life is hard as well. But she trusts me and loves me as if I were her parent. As the 'step-parent' you have to work so much harder to gain their trust and love and respect. Which is what I did. Alot of people don't realise how hard step parents have to work to achieve that position of parent-dom.

    Congratulations to all of us.

    Now lets see how she goes when I have my baby in August!!

  9. My partner often refers to me as his crash test mommy.

    Though at the time, my partner and his ex were separated (emotionally) for almost a year, he had not yet left the house. About a month after he moved out, we met up (after running into each other several times over 4 years), starting spending time together, fell in love and moved in within 2 months. This alone was crazy and left most people's heads spinning. About a month after that we found the kids daycare negligent, and he and his ex decided that pulling them out was the best options.

    Into my care. WTF?

    So after about 4 months into a relationship, and only 3 into meeting the children (Then 4yrs & 2yrs) I suddenly was the stay at home care taker… person. Crash test mommy is right.

    I found out I had way more patience I thought humanly possible and that I was much more strict then I ever thought I would be. (I like to think strict but fair) It has been a crazy, wonderful, heartrending, absolutely insane experience. I love them more than I can explain, and they love me as well, which still boggles my mind. I always wondered and worried if they would hate me because I came into their lives just as "Daddy left" and I was so worried about them blaming me for it. Somehow they didn't.

    It has been a very long, painfully bumpy road (things are now going very well with the ex, and we get along really quite well despite previous differences) but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and all is looking well *fingerscrossed*

    But even still, after all this time, with my step kids having grown to ages 7 and 5, I still often feel overwhelmed and inadequate in deserving their so obviously deep love for me. This becomes even more apparent when we look at how offbeat my partner and I are, compared to not only his ex and her family being so traditional, but his family and mine as well.. We are more often than not questioned in or choices, and in some cases even berated for them, but still we try and stand firm in what we think of best. Then this little voice in the back of my head asks "but what if they're right?"
    So ensues the enormous emotional battle, which probably wouldn't even exist if it weren't for having to always (and rightfully so) take into account the wishes and point of view of the traditional parent. A good portion of our down and dirty arguments have been about what music they listen to, whether or not they get to wear clothes with skulls on them (so did not back down on this one), what shows are appropriate, and even to whether or not my stepson can have a pompadour instead of a buzz cut.

    So many of my friends have applauded my strength in staying through the battle for equal parenting rights for my partner because, as they all like to tell me, they would have run by now. But is this really strength? Sure it's been a difficult road, but if I'm so tough, why do I feel like I could still be better, and that I don't handle things like I should, that I could be a better mom.. Why do I feel like I'm second best and greatly under appreciated all at the same time? It's exhausting!

    Though I've been lurking on Offbeat Bride for some time, I only just found Offbeat Mama, and some how I still didn't really think it would be for me now as a step parent.

    Until I started reading.

    Thank you everyone, not just for this post, but for all posts. I don't feel so alone anymore.

  10. @Jhanna,

    I am pretty much exactly in your situation! Except my DB only has an 11 year old girl.

    Crash test Mommy. I like this.

    Crossing my fingers for you, me and all step moms. There is nothing we can’t do with our loving men standing right next to us right?!

  11. I am so glad to read this! I read OBB (just got legal-married in April 10, am planning a party for September) and I have been wondering if there was anything here for me…and there is!

    My husband (still SO weird to write that) has an 8 y.o. son who lives on another coast; I never thought I’d get hitched, and I also never thought I’d have kids. Then I had a hysterectomy in Feb. 09 and was A-OK with it…and then BOOM! met him in March.

    So now I’m not only married, I’m a stepmom, and we don’t get to see him very often, so it’s just…strange. I’m not even a FT stepmom — I’m a summer and Christmas break stepmom — so there’s all these new identities I have that I never really *thought* I’d have or really wanted or needed to have, and it’s just…strange.

    Good. But strange.

  12. Loved this post. I can 100% relate to the: “I jumped in with both feet, and got really wet.” statement. It’s not always easy, but always worth it.

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