By Jennifer Kelly
When I was around 15, my dad left my mother for another woman. I instantly resented this woman and was angry with her for so many reasons. I didn’t feel she deserved my father. It wasn’t fair that she took him away from us. But as I am now in my 30s, I understand it was not her that took my father away. It was love. It’s unfortunate that it was at my mother’s expense, but nonetheless, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. I have to believe that because that is what makes moving on easier. That’s what helps me not to harbor any more hate in my heart.
My stepmother has been in my life during the lowest points I have been through. She has been there through hard break-ups, through break-downs, through triumphs, and through joys. As the years go on, and I remember how much I put this woman through, and I am shocked that she still stands by my side. This woman owes me nothing — she is not related by blood. I don’t deserve her love in any way. However, she has never once made me feel unwelcomed or unloved. Sadly, I have done that to her for a very long time.
I wanted to hate her because I need someone to blame for the hurt I felt. It was easier to hate her than it was to hate my dad for leaving. I wanted a “normal” family. I wanted my mom and my dad to be together, and to enjoy them together. But in the end both of my parents have the exact life they were meant to have. And I didn’t really miss out on anything.
I no longer hate my stepmother. I feel bad. I feel bad for the things that I have done or for the things that I have said. It wasn’t until I became a stepmother myself, did I realize how much she truly loved me. And how much she really sacrificed for me. She was a childless stepmom for all of my adolescent life. She came in at a very difficult time. I was your typical, horrible, bitchy teenage girl who knew everything, and could be told nothing. Her skin was thick though, because if it bothered her – I never knew about it.
When I became a stepmother my stepdaughter was only 2 and half. She did not want me near her father at all. She wouldn’t talk to me, look at me, or anything. When I had to stay with her while he was at work, she wouldn’t even eat or drink from me until he got home and gave her something. But every day I did the same thing. Every day, I gave her hug with nothing in return. I made her breakfast and lunch and left it on the table for her. I always asked if she was thirsty and if she needed anything. And even though for close to a year she never responded to me, I never gave up on her. It is now 3 years later and I am proud to say that my stepdaughter is my best friend. She loves me so much. She comes to me now when she is hurt, or just wants a hug, or to cuddle. She wants me to make sure I tuck her in at night. She texts me or calls me when she is with her mom just to tell me she loves me. She actually tells me she loves me! I cherish my relationship with my stepdaughter more than anything in the world. I worked for that. I earned that! It’s an unbreakable bond.
But because of how hard I have worked with this child, I realize just how much my own stepmother put up with. And even though I was so mean, she never faltered. She always remained a constant to me. No matter how much I wanted to hate her, she never let that phase her. She stood tall, and kept on doing what she was doing and loved me regardless. I wouldn’t have known how to be a stepmom if it wasn’t for her. I owe her so much. And I know she will always tell me I owe her nothing but my friendship. I know in my heart that will never be enough.
It’s not easy taking on someone else’s children. But when they give you Hell it’s even harder. My best advice is to never give up. Show them that you are present every day. Even if they don’t respond, try harder. And never forget, that they are children — probably confused, and not sure what their place is now that mom and dad aren’t together anymore. Reassure them, and comfort them. Never berate them, or get mad at them for acting out. Understand that they are just acting out in confusion and fear. But give them the tools they need to heal, recover, and to let you in.
Jennifer Kelly is a wife to the love of her life, and a mother to 3 biological children and 2 stepchildren. Her days are consumed with trying to finish her degree in order to become a co-parent therapist. As well as chasing after her wonderful babies. Jennifer also writes her own blog at http://www.amotherofalltrades.com.