I don’t know how to address this letter!
Dear, Mom of the kids that made me a Step-Mom?
I guess I want to start off by saying thank you! I feel really weird saying thank you to you when things have just been so hard between us. My life prior to meeting your kids was pretty bland and boring. I wandered through this world with no purpose so, thank you for creating little people who have given me direction, purpose and inspiration. We can both agree that they are great kids with awesome personalities. They are funny, smart and kind and I am so happy that they are in my life despite how hard that may be for you, because I understand how it can be!
To start off, I have never tried to be the kids’ Mom. They have you! I have never intentionally tried to replace you. I knew that taking on this role as a friend to your kids was something that was going to be really hard for you. I was genuinely afraid to go anywhere with your ex and the kids, because I worried about your reactions. I was nervous to help the kids with things they needed in their Dad’s care because I was concerned that you would think that I was “overstepping”. I was always in my head about every little thing that I did because ultimately, I was anxious about how you indirectly watched my every move. I can honestly say I don’t blame you. I would want to know the person who is around my kids too. I would want to make sure that my kids were well taken care of, loved and respected. I have always tried my best to ensure the kids’ best interests were at the forefront of my decisions in the past, present and I can promise the same for the future.
I want to acknowledge the pain and heartache that you have endured because of my involvement. I understand how hard it must be to see the man that you love or once loved finding new love with me. I am sure that was really hard to come to terms with. Despite how you may feel about me, I actually know what this feels like. I too was married. I too filed for divorce. I too have been through a divorce. I too know what it feels like to see my ex-husband find happiness with someone else. I too know what it feels like to marry someone with the hopes that it would be my forever. I too know what it feels like to fall in love young and grow up with that person. I too know what it feels like to come to terms with my dreams of a happy family not working out. I am truly sorry that you have experienced some of the pain that I did. I can appreciate that you may not think that I have considered your feelings about this, but believe me when I say I have. I did not fall in-love with your ex-husband to hurt you. I know that he has hurt you and you have hurt him. I wasn’t part of that back and forth pain and I hope one day that you can disassociate me with him and your past relationship with him.
I had big dreams to have a cordial relationship with you when I met your ex-husband, in fact I still secretly do! I have always thought about what our relationship could be if egos and insecurities could get out of our way, because I think that it could be really healthy for the kids. I can appreciate that you feel as though the children are your heart walking outside of your body. They are the piece that is left from the relationship that unfortunately ended. I understand that they are the most important part of how you identify with yourself, but I hope that you can also see that I see that. I have thought about this time and time again. I can also appreciate how hard it is to trust someone with your babies, especially when you don’t know me.
So, let me introduce myself. I’m Michelle. I am 33 years old. I am a behaviour therapist and I have worked with kids with special needs for over 17 years. I enjoy being silly and goofy. I love singing and dancing and going to karaoke. I am an empath and feel the feelings of people around me. I love a good book and a cup of tea. I enjoy talking with interesting people, people with opposing beliefs and ideas from mine because I enjoy opening my mind to things I have never considered. I love to learn and think that life is constantly teaching us lessons and presenting opportunities to learn. I really dislike when people dislike me and I have spent a lot of my life discounting my dreams and desires to accommodate those around me. I would probably be described as outgoing, personable and easy to confide in. All of these qualities can be hard for you to see because of the sadness that I have triggered in you. I wish that you could and would give me a chance. I realize that being your friend is not in the cards. My dream one day is that you will see that I am not the evil-step mom that has been portrayed in Disney movies. I care about all sides of this complicated dynamic; but primarily the kids. I have considered your feelings in more situations than I can count. I have been compassionate (from afar) about what you are going through too.
I have so many regrets about not introducing myself early on. I regret that I let my fear be the reason for not reaching out to you. I was genuinely so scared about what you would do and say to me and didn’t feel confident enough in myself to give your pain space. I regret that I didn’t make a bigger effort to make myself and who I was known. I am sorry about how that all went down and if there’s anything that I would re-do or undo, it would be that!
I know that as you watch me develop a relationship with each of the kids and ultimately create my family with your children that it breaks your heart. I don’t know how easy that would be for me either. I respect that you are their Mom and your ex is their Dad. I hope that one day you can see the value that my relationship brings to the dynamic. I pray that you will in time see that my influence over who they are becoming came from a place of love, care, respect, understanding and compassion for their needs. I know that my transition in, was really hard for you. The transition to being in the kids’ lives was not easy for me either. I struggled to find my way too!
I have a lot of hopes and dreams for the kids and the future that I would love to share them with you. I would really love if one day we could celebrate their graduations together. I would really like if we could be in the same room or space for the kids’ sake. I would be so happy for them if they didn’t have to choose between who will be at their Christmas dinners and birthday parties as they grow up and have their own families. I wish that the kids didn’t feel worried or scared to tell you about me. I wish that we could attend parent/teacher interviews together and not have to have separate meeting times. I would love to be able to sit together in the audience of a Christmas concert so that the kids didn’t have to look all over the damn room for us. I dream that we could see each other and at least wave. I wish that you could soften yourself towards me and know that I am not out to get you and vice versa. I wish that egos and insecurities did not play a role in some of the decision making that goes on. I wish that if you needed help with anything in regards to the kids that you could come to us for that support without thinking that there is judgment. I hope that one day this is going to get easier. I hope that one day this will be easy. I just really hope for that.
I know that time heals all wounds. I pray that when we grow old and look back that we can be proud of the job that we did. I genuinely hope that the challenges that we have had in our relationship or lack thereof, has not impacted the kids too greatly and that we can appreciate what each of us has accomplished sooner rather than later.
I have grown close with each of the kids and I can relate to the level of protection that you have over them. I wouldn’t want just anyone around the kids either. I would want the best of the best for the kids. The people in their lives would have to be held to a high standard in my eyes too. I now understand how it may have felt for you when I entered into this equation. I want to assure you that I hold myself to a high standard in a lot of ways in my life, but especially with the kids!
I love these children with all of my heart. I will do anything and everything that it will take to make sure that they know how special they really are to me. The only thing that I could ever want for the kids is to be surrounded by love everywhere they go. I want them to be respected and well taken care of by everyone in their lives. I hope that they always see the good in this world and take every positive opportunity that comes their way. I hope that they grow to trust themselves enough to take risks that they need to take to get ahead. I hope that they are blessed with health and happiness. I wish for each of the kids to be proud of themselves and their accomplishments. I want each of them to find someone that loves them the way they need to be loved and I want them to be appreciated… appreciated every day for the amazing people that they are.
I think we want the same things. I hope we can try and get there together.
I don’t know how to sign off from this letter…
The kids’…. Step-Mom
I am a 33 year old Step-Mom to three kids who would describe me as a dramatic, fun-loving hopeless romantic (insert eyeroll). Transplanted from Pickering, Ontario and currently living in Calgary, Alberta. My friends would describe me as an open-book, a safe space and an ever evolving shoulder to cry on (my friend told me to say that). I work with children with special needs; a career inspired by my involvement with Willowjak. I have been thrown some pretty big curve balls in my short time here on this planet but, have faced them with a good book in hand and a cup of tea on my night stand. My hope is that what I have experienced in my life can be of use to others. Some support to prove that we are not alone; though we may feel like we are, that we are seen; though we feel invisible and that we have a voice; though we may not know we have one yet.
You can hear more about Michelle’s story when she appeared as a guest on Willowjak’s ‘Choose Your Own After’, by listening HERE.