As you may have read in my previous post, I am a childless stepmom. I have a stepdaughter with no biological children. My husband is about 12 years older than I am, and his daughter was born from his previous marriage. When we met, we had planned on having a child together, not knowing that I was infertile. I saw a fertility doctor about 3 years into trying. We weren’t married yet, so I wasn’t in a rush. I saw a doctor the summer before we got married, and I wanted to have a baby before or by the time my husband turned 40 years old. We also wanted a sibling for my stepdaughter before she became a teenager. We didn’t want too much of a gap between the two kids. As everyone has read, our plans didn’t become a reality, and I am a bonus mom without children.
When I had started to date my husband, I had just gone through a divorce. I obviously didn’t have children from my previous marriage. I hesitated when my husband told me he had a daughter. I was very traditional, and didn’t know if I wanted a blended family. I went into the relationship thinking it would work out because I knew even if my family was blended, I would have biological children of my own. As fate would have it, we have my stepdaughter and 5 dogs.
The role of a stepmother is a difficult one. I never even had an idea of how difficult it would be. My husband and I dated for about four years before we got married, giving us plenty of time to work through our journey before we made the big commitment. I love my stepdaughter very much, she has become a huge part of my life. In a way, she has saved me. After we got married, we did about 2 years of fertility treatments. I honestly can say I was terrified. I was scared that we wouldn’t have children together and I would resent my husband. I was worried I would be jealous of what him and his daughter have and that it would never happen for me. I was having a hard time accepting that he had a child with someone else, and I would never be able to have that with him. We had spent about 6 years trying to have a baby. We waived the white flag in 2016 when I had a hysterectomy. My new normal was my blended family and my dogs.
We had 3 dogs when we came together as a couple. 3 dogs and one kid. Our agreement was if my last medicated round of fertility treatments failed, I could get a puppy. of course they failed and I got the biggest puppy I could find–a Great Dane. If my husband had his daughter, I was going to pick this puppy out and he would be all mine! I found a breeder, I picked the gender, the name, and when he/she was born, I would pick out “the one.” This brought excitement back into my life again. When our puppy was born, I let my stepdaughter pick him out from the litter. When I was trying to create my own moment, it became a family moment instead – just as it always should have been. Dubnyk Jake is almost 3 years old now. Jake is my Dad’s nickname.
When the time came that I knew I was never going to be a mother or a grandmother, I didn’t really know what my purpose was. How and what is my role with my stepdaughter? I didn’t give birth to her, but she is in my life, and I am helping raise her. I don’t know what it feels like to have a child of any kind. I am a stepmother and not a mother? I don’t know how to raise a child – especially one that hasn’t started out in my life as a baby. I met my stepdaughter when she was 8 years old going on 9 years old. I never got to experience the baby/toddler years with her, but I have been able to watch her grow from a child to a tween, a teen and a young woman. She just turned 17 years old this month. We have one more year, and she will be an adult.
I feel fortunate to have been able to watch her grow, learn and thrive. I wasn’t there the day she was born, but I was there for a lot of other moments. I won’t be able to see my own child grow, but I did get to start with my stepdaughter from about the 4th grade. You crave to be a mother, but you have to step back and just be a role model for your stepchildren. you are not their parent, but you are there to help guide and raise them. It can be a very hard position to be in. I love you as I believe I would love my own child, but you are not my child. Watching my husband when she was little gave me a lot of hope, but when I knew my baby journey was over, it wasn’t as easy. I wanted someone to call me Mommy. I wanted that bond and love. I have a very close friendship with my stepdaughter, I want to be the best role model I can for her. I know I am not her mother. She doesn’t call me Mom, I never would want her to call me anything else but my first name. When she was little, I would correct others for thinking I was her mom. Deep down I was wishing I was a mom, but I wasn’t. I have always known my place. When I was in therapy before my hysterectomy, I told my therapist I was worried about being known as the “childless stepmom.” I didn’t want that title, I didn’t want my stepdaughter to feel bad, I didn’t want her to think I didn’t love her. I didn’t want my husband to feel badly or to have a feeling of guilt. It’s been almost 2 years since my hysterectomy and I am not “childless.” I have a 17 year old stepdaughter and we have 5 dogs. I am known as “mama” to my pups, but to my stepdaughter I will always just be Tia.
Please know there are a lot of resources for blended families and especially stepmoms. StepMomMagazine.com was my very first guide. Eventually I needed an infertility support group too, but support and love are the best tools you can find.
This is my life, and I am living it the best way I know how. A big thank you to my stepdaughter for allowing me to have a glimpse of what motherhood is all about.