Dating a Dilf

I’m unsure how this particular entry could help others in their journey into joy, spiritual awakening or personal development. I guess for me this subject is so close to my heart that I would like to share it with you all.

Know one thing: step mothering is hard, isolating, frustrating, sad as well as fun, entertaining and at times amazing, it will all depend on these main factors:

·         How much has your partner work on him/herself after the breakup.

·         How emotionally fit the kids are to change (which varies tremendously depending on age, socio-cultural backgrounds, parents’ responses to the ‘new’ person, and how they have been raised -but taking the parents are no longer together, it is likely they spent a few years in the muddy side of the road whilst the parents were working on the marriage and their own growth and emotional maturity isn’t in great shape).

·         How much have you work on yourself to deal with hard emotions such as feeling left out, making room for yourself, staying present and engaged in the relationship as much as with the kids. Depending on the circumstances, you may be more or less involved in the life of these children, and that plays a huge part on how you feel and the role you choose to play.

·         For the sake of my own sanity, I’ll leave social stigma for the very end. Because this one touches many nerves out there, as so many of us have stepparents and may have difficult relationship with our families and stepfamilies.

If I were to stay in gratitude and in the joyful side of it all, I have to say that my stepkids are teaching me a lot about myself, my parents, my life and my pride. Stepping away from power games, or ‘youneedtorespectme’ BS has never been so obvious to me. I have been with my partner for less than 2 years, and the kids have been in my life for less than 10 months. The early days, so I hear, are the hardest. Yet, I did come with some preparation, but out there are lots of parenting books, but not many step parenting ones.

Whoever says to you it is the same, clearly isn’t a wicked stepmom/dad. There is a symbiotic, genetical and spiritual connection with a child which grows inside you or whom you care for from birth, that us, the ‘steppies’, don’t have first-hand. It can happen, but it takes time and it also depends on the age of the child and your willingness to get involved.

I chose not to have children many years ago. I think I was 10 when my relationship with my mother became so emotionally unmanageable to me, that I remember praying at night: “God, if this is helping me to be a good mother, please give them tools to understand it, but if I’m not meant to be a mum, show me the lesson I need to learn”. No wonder why I became a coach!

Ten years later, I was aware I had so many things to clear and clean in my life, there was ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE ON EARTH, I’ll pass these down to my children. I guess I knew my spiritual resilience wasn’t up to scratch to choose a partner wisely and lovingly and have a family. No coincidence my main focus was me, me, me: my career, my travels and my life and I wasn’t willing to compromise on any of that.

At the age of 40, I became the ‘steppy’ of a 7-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl.  All those years of protecting my freedom, my space, and the me-against-the-world brave attitude crumble down within a week. It sucked!

I called my sister, my mum and dad, my stepmom Julia, read books, spoke to some pretty awesome mothers I’m lucky to call friends, followed other ‘steppies’ and called my therapist for weekly sessions until 2080.

Nothing prepared me for the shitstorm that happened in front of my eyes: understanding and placing boundaries, feeling left out but keeping my sense of self-worth, compromising on sex and intimacy, learning to say yes, learning to say no, crying quietly at night, waking up feeling defeated after a pointless battle over using knife and fork, measuring my opinions and input, making sure I didn’t step into the mother’s role (but kind of doing it anyway, because the occasion needed me to do so), going to work late after the boy refused to go to school for the third morning in a row, making a birthday cake and forgetting the milk, and (my personal favourite) negotiating holidays.

All of the above were difficult and some I laugh at now. But the one that stuck was the one Saturday morning I stayed-in nursing a sick boy. After I cleared his vomit of myself and changed his pj’s, he called me into the living room:

- “Mary, can I tell you something”- he asked with that tone only sick kids know to use.

- “Sure hun, what is it?”.

- “Mummy said that you are not part of the family, that you’re just daddy’s girlfriend, because family is blood only”- and there was silence.

- “I see, well, would you like to me part of the family?”.

- “Hmm” – he said yes with this head and with a big smile.

- “So, how can I become part of your family?”

- “I don’t know” – he replied genuinely not knowing.

- “If you come up with ways for me to be part of your family, please let me know”.

- “OK” – he said.  I smiled at him, I touched his face and I went back to the kitchen.

I got on my phone and tried to Google a company who will swiftly and anonymously deliver a truck full of smelly turds into “mummy’s” house and a fast track service I can count on to deliver a giant box of glitter I could smash on top of that pile of warm and tender poo.

Then I wanted to use a machete to chop a heads or two, but I realised I only had one decent carving knife, which was a gift when I moved into my new flat and I quite was fond of it. Finally, I came to terms with the fact that the popular one-off Karate Kid kick wasn’t going to really cut it for me… I was going to end up in jail.

I gave up all those fantastic ideas, and instead I called my sister and cried. There was nothing I can do if ‘mummy’ felt so threaten that she felt the need to push me out.

I’m sure you steppies out there have a collection of these painful stories, and some mummies and daddies have their fair share too.

I know from personal experience how can stepkids can feel in this battlefield because I have been on both sides. And after working this all out in my skin and in my heart, I can only say thing:

Maybe your steppy isn’t that wicked, maybe she or he just doesn’t know how to be the parent you need them to be. You may need to help them and teach them.

The difficulty here is the sense of entitlement, ownership, boundaries, lack, feeling left out or less than. And these are things we all have in common.

As a stepchild I must warn biological parents of something: your children will find you out. When their teenage years come, they will know to perfection how pinch your feelings of inadequacy, jealously, sadness, frustration and anger, and pull them out, one by one, painfully and slowly as if they were tissues coming out of a kleenex box.

I call all parties to surrender, to give up and give in, to allow forgiveness and softness to move into the kitchen table, for both parents and stepparents to take more time off, for everyone to stop trying so hard to make things their own way, for parents to let go of the personal hurt your ex might have caused and divorce from that too.

It is done, you can’t resist change, you can’t turn back time.

I’m deeply, madly and softly in love with my partner, and with him came two children, and all I wish and work for is to be able to be helped by them, at the same time that I hope I can guide them into calmness, joy and curiosity. Because I feel that’s part of my human homework.

When I’m gone, if one of them three says: “Mary, I learnt one thing from you”, then my work is done. I’m learning from them every day, sometimes I just wished the School of Life could also give me summer breaks, but this is a continuous work that doesn’t end. I accept that, simply because: I love being a wicked stepmom!

PS: if you know of anyone who can deliver piles of warm and tender poo please leave it on the comments below just in case me or the others readers need it again.

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