I had always known that my boyfriend had kids but he didn’t see them so it almost felt like it wasn’t real. I thought that one day he would have his son come knocking on our door but I thought that would be a long time in the distance, once his son was a teenager and could make up his own mind about building a relationship with his father. I never expected I would become a stepmom at the age of 22. I also never expected the roller coaster of emotions I would feel when dating a single parent.
My partner one day got a letter about child maintenance and it was me that said this is the perfect time to get in touch with your son’s Mum and see if she would allow him to see his little boy. In the end, with my boyfriend’s permission, I contacted his child’s Mum via Facebook. Within days she got back to me and passed her number on.
I gave that number to my boyfriend and while he was on the phone with her, the world around me stopped. I never expected to feel the way I did in that moment and deep down, I thought that was the end of our relationship.
It was an unusual situation as my partner hadn’t seen his six year old in four and a half years, so it wasn’t like he was part of our relationship straight away. At the time, my boyfriend and I had been in a relationship for three years and although I knew he had kids, it wasn’t exactly what I signed up for.
He met with his son and his ex-girlfriend the next day and I felt so alone and excluded and like my whole world was about to change. One minute I felt like I could deal with it and the next I wanted to cry my eyes out. To help anyone else going through a similar situation I have put together the below tips on how to deal with each emotion that I went through. You might not experience all of them but some are a dead certain.
I am not afraid to admit that I was jealous for a whole host of reasons. I was jealous of the mother and that her and my boyfriend will always share a special bond that I am yet to share with him. I could imagine them sat there laughing about old times and memories they had and whether kids are involved or not, thinking of your partner with their ex in any situation is likely to bring on some sort of jealousy.
I also worried that they might get back together. It would make sense for them to try to give it another go for the child’s sake. Or even worse, what if what if they saw each other and the burning passion of an old relationship came back?
For me, the jealousy stage went away quite quickly, especially once I had met the ex. She was so nice to me and you could tell there was no bitterness, which made the experience better for both of us. I suppose I was quite lucky for her to be like that towards me but it is important to have a good relationship with the ex, not just for the child’s sake but for your own sanity.
As silly as it sounds I resented my boyfriend for having a child before he was with me and I resented him for spoiling my ‘perfect family’ dream. Growing up, I never imagined stepchildren but the sooner I came to terms with the fact that it was my choice to be in this relationship and that if I truly loved and wanted to be with my partner then I had to accept that he is a parent, the sooner I started to feel better about the situation.
There are still moments that I think about how when I have children, it will be new to me but not to him, or maybe with me, it won’t be as special because he has done it before but it’s okay to feel like that. I have been nothing but open and honest with my boyfriend about the way I am feeling so we can talk about it and work through it together.
I not only felt confused about the way I was feeling, but I also didn’t understand what this meant to my life and how dating a single parent change it. I didn’t know what role I was meant to play and whether I was ready to play any role at all for that matter.
The most important thing is to not do anything that you aren’t ready to do. I was particular about when and how I met the child and I laid out some ground rules with my partner straight away. I don’t always go and see the child, partly because I think it’s nice for him to have some alone time with his Dad but also because I am in my early 20s and I don’t want the responsibility of a child every weekend. You do share some responsibility when you’re with the child to be a good role model and to keep them safe but it’s not your responsibility to see them every weekend or buy them new school shoes.
Eventually, I felt happiness. I am happy that my boyfriend has his son is his life and it makes me smile seeing them together and how happy it makes them both. I love playing teddies with his son and how excited he was to give me my Christmas present because it was another teddy and he knows I love them.
However much you try, you can’t force happiness. You just have to look for the good in as much as you can. If you can learn to deal with the bad emotions in the right way then happiness will come.
I will admit that I’m not quite there yet when it comes to love, but what can you expect? I’ve only known the child a few months. However, I love my partner and as long as I am with him, then I will have his child in my life and I know one day I will love his son and this doesn’t scare me anymore.
I quite often think about the fun things we can all do together in the Summer or going on our first holiday together and it excites me. It’s not what I had planned for my life but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad or it has to change my life for the worse. In fact, the ways things have been so far, I have felt like meeting his son has actually enriched my own life. I am lucky and this won’t be the case for everyone, lots of people I have spoken to have said that they wouldn’t be able to date a single parent or have kids with someone who already has kids and that is ok too. You just have to do what is right for you and what makes you comfortable.