From the time I was a little girl, it was always a given that I was going to be a mom. My younger sister and I picked names out (Denim and Lace) for our fictional children we were one day going to have, improbably, at the same time.
As I grew older, college and responsibilities and a career kept my fictional children from becoming real, but I always knew that, eventually, I was going to be a mom. But then, life sometimes throws you hard and fast curveballs, and with one failed marriage looming on the horizon, I began to think maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mom after all. I threw myself whole hardly into being the best auntie I could be (my younger sister, you see, had become a mother, though she didn’t name my niece Denim or Lace).
Then, at the age of 39, I met a man who was about to turn my world upside down. He wasn’t something I had been looking for, but when I was around him, it felt like sunshine on my face and a breath of fresh air. He had full custody of his 7-year-old son from a previous relationship who had a no-contact order.
And that’s how, at 39 years old, I became a mother for the first time.
How does one go from being single and childless to helping the man she’d eventually marry raise his son? I’d be lying if I said it was always easy. There have been tears and doubts and frustrations and learning curves, but conversely, there’s also been love and laughs and cuddles.
Bit by bit, we’ve worked to become a family, and I’ve become a full-time, full-fledged mom—he even calls me Mom!
While parents of newborns get to learn together—a slow waltz of sorts between the baby and them, learning one another’s personalities and figuring out how to parent as the baby grows—I have been thrown into the deep end of mothering. He’s no newborn, but we still had to figure out how our personalities worked together and I had to figure out this parenting thing with a growing child who had been through some pretty deep trauma.
I have now been the only mother he has known for more than two years. I’ve learned about picking my battles and opening my mouth only to hear phrases that my parents used with me come spilling out, but, mostly, the enormity of trying to raise a kind, self-sufficient young man in the face of a cruel world.
Because, after all, isn’t that what being a parent is about?
Raising your newborn (or in my case a little boy) only to release them in a far too short time into the world and hoping that no matter how much or how little time with them you had, that you’ve taught them all they need to know to make an impact while remaining compassionate in this wide world.
Being a stepmom has been one of the most rewarding and frustrating experiences I have ever had to take on, and sometime this year I am going to make it official by adopting this sweet boy who calls me mom but was born to another.
I always knew I was going to be a mom, but I just never thought it would be at this age with a child who wasn’t born to me. We’re learning this thing as we go, him and me and his dad. It’s nothing like my fictional children I imagined so long ago, but it’s been more fulfilling than I could have ever understood.