Everyone goes through a really bad breakup at some point. You go through a period of mourning where you feel like nothing will ever be the same again, and that you will never find someone that is as good as your ex. At some point, however, you get back on your feet and move on. Eventually, there comes a time where you can stand tall and not look back to what transpired in your old relationship. At that point, finally, you can look towards the future.

But what happens when your boyfriend has a three year old that you helped raise for the past three years of your relationship? What if that three year old sees you as a parental figure, and is already used to people leaving his life to the point where he’d probably be devastated if you left too? What if that child had become like your own son in the time that you’ve watched him learn to talk, walk, and grow up? What happens to the unmarried step mother that breaks up with the father of her step child?

For me, I was really lucky to have dated a kind and compassionate man that continues to allow me to be in the life of my three year old, but there’s not a day that goes by where I think of what could’ve happened if my ex hadn’t been as compassionate and I had lost my kiddo forever. He’s three – and while I know that I still have hundreds of photos and memories of us together, he may not remember me after he grows up. There’s going to be a time where he’ll grow older, and not need me to watch over him. I dread the day that I slowly start to fade into background of his life while I fight so hard to still be a heavily active part in it. I think of biological parents, watching their children grow and knowing that someday they won’t be their child’s everything anymore, but can you imagine looking at your child and thinking that you may mean nothing to them someday?

 I still think about what’s going to happen when my ex moves on, and my little man has a new step mom. I can only hope that she’s patient and kind and doesn’t try to force herself into the step mom role. I hope upon hope that she stays, and finds a place in the family that I couldn’t quite fit into. I’m praying that she’s compassionate, and loving, and someday acquires the maternal bond with my little guy that I have now – one that is for now unbreakable and completely irreplaceable in my eyes. If I meet her, I hope that she’s open minded and doesn’t mind if I drop in occasionally to see my sweet little boy, now as a cool aunt-like figure instead of the maternal figure that tucks him into bed at night.

This experience of being a stepmother has been one of the hardest, yet incredibly rewarding and life changing experiences I’ve ever had, and while the decision to breakup with my toddler’s dad was the most difficult decision I’ve made, I believe it was for the best.

So what happens now?

I’m going to hang onto the memories, and the bond I have with the cutest three year old I know. This breakup will be forever different from all the rest, because I’ll keep looking back, always, for the image of a little boy calling out to me in the middle of night, dependent and loving, with his only wish to be warm and safe in my arms.

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