I once read an article for stepmoms about grieving the loss of the life you would have had if you hadn't decided to marry a man with kids. At first glance, my reaction was "oh my gosh are you kidding me. Grieving the loss? That's a bit much". But then as I started to think about it, I realized that the woman who wrote the article was onto something.
In many situations, signing up to be a stepmom means the you are giving up a lot of things in life. For me, these things included not having those "firsts" with the man I love.
My firsts were his second (or third or fourth). He had already had children, he had already experienced a wedding and made those first milestone purchases with someone else. I never got to buy and decorate my "first house" with him and I am forever stamped with the label of being the "second wife".
[You can read about how I struggled with moving into the house my husband lived in during his first marriage HERE]
Every once and a while I think about what life would have been like if I didn't marry a man with kids and an ex-wife. (Yes, I said it out loud, I've thought about it)
If I'm being totally honestly with you, there have also been periods where I have been a bit resentful of this life, because of what it "took away".
Things like the every-other-week access schedule and my daughter only being able to spend half the time with her brother's and sister are all aspects of our life that time and time again, I somewhat resent.
Most recently, dealing with "secondary infertility" has been a huge struggle. I often find myself wondering whether I would be dealing with this issue if I hadn't waited so long to start trying for baby #2 (or 5... however you want to look at it)
We waited to start trying because things were so busy with my stepchildren, that I didn't feel I had the time or capacity to care for a newborn. But like I said, if I didn't have stepchildren, I"m sure we would have started trying right away
Yes, I am actually saying this out loud... Even though it was my choice, when I was really struggling with our inability to get pregnant, I wondered whether my decision to be a stepmom robbed me from having the number of children that I was truly meant to have.
Were those thoughts a little irrational? Yes!
But I had them.
To be honest, up until about a month ago, I truly felt like there was something missing in my life. I felt like there was this VOID.
I was driving myself crazy with what-ifs. I was fixated on trying to get pregnant.
I silently let it consume me.
But after yet another month of disappointment, sitting on my bathroom floor bawling my eyes out, I made the conscious decision to snap out of it. I decided to stop thinking about what being a stepmom has prevented me from having, and started thinking about all the extra positives it has brought to my life.
It's so easy to get caught up in the thought patterns of what we don't have and what we want for our lives. During those tough times, it's easy to throw ourselves a pitty party, especially when our Facebook Newsfeed is full of pictures of people getting exactly what we are urning for so bad.
We don't realize it in the moment, but these pity parties and negative thought patterns are nothing but destructive.
It's a viscous cycle. When you're focused on the negative, you find more negative things to focus on.
This destructive thought pattern blinds us from seeing all the amazing things happening right in front of us!
So instead of thinking about what it would be like to be pregnant, or have a new born baby in my arms, I've started to think about what it would be like not not be a stepmom. I'm not talking about what it would be like to not have the extra stressors that come with co-parenting and access schedules. I'm talking about it would be like to not have these three kids in my life.
I'm talking about what it would be like to to not have my 14-year-old-stepdaughter to go on shopping trips with or to giggle with when we make poke of her dad.
I've started to think about what it would be like to not have my 13-year-old-stepson to keep me on my toes, or update me on the latest electronic trends.
I've started to think about what it would be like to not have my 10-year-old-stepson to model what it's truly like to be easy going and carefree. Or what it would be like to not hear him yell "Jayyyyy-me" when he needs me to come upstairs.
What would life be like without those moments where we are all sitting around the dinner table giggling at the our toddler, who let's be honest, is a one-kid-show.
My life would be pretty empty without those three kids!
Changing the way I think about what being a stepmom has brought to my life, has changed the way I feel about life in general.
While I was consumed with our difficulty getting pregnant, I was trapped in this negative thought pattern. Even though I put on a good show, I felt empty inside.
I don't feel empty anymore. I don't feel like I'm missing something.
In fact, whether or not another baby is on our future, right now, at this very moment, I actually feel compete.
My husband and I may not get to share all the "firsts" but we get all the lasts.
I may not have the biological babies that I once dreamed about, but I'm pretty damn lucky to not only have one beautiful, healthy little girl, but three stepchildren who unleashed a maternal instinct and desire for family that I may never have had if I didn't decide to marry a man with kids.
If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know one of my favourite quotes is "Change your thoughts, and you'll change your world".
Once again, this statement has proven to be true!