….then I met his children who became “my” children.
At this point in “my” life, I was a career woman, a sexual assault prosecutor, a protector of children in my life-blood. After two years of visiting and being the fun-times woman with these souls, I accepted my husband’s proposal. We got married a week before he deployed, again, to Iraq. The woman that married us told our children, “you’ll be as much a part of their success as a couple, as they will be. Please honor your father and your step-mother.” They were children, open hearted, loving, who didn’t need a super vigilant prosecutor step-mom with her own life issues. They needed a loving, firm, “present” mom, who they could rely on every day. I had to become that. I didn’t think I was capable.
I felt so alone. I was surrounded by these sweet babies in sight, sound, mind, body, and soul; now 11, 10, and 6. Their father, the custodial parent, was deployed. Their mother told me when I asked her for visitation with my step-children, “Oh no, you knew what you were getting into, you’re keeping them.” I was happy to have them in my arms every day, but scared to death of losing my professional edge, my placement at the top of the career pile. In a most raw and low moment when I was on the phone with my husband one day, half a planet away, I met my light bulb. I told him that I couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t be a mom, a good prosecutor, a good officer in the military, and deal with three children that just missed their own parents. I broke down in panic. My husband was quiet. He told me he’d find somebody else who would be able to take care of them. We hung up and I immediately, like a bolt of lightning, realized that I needed those children as much as they needed me. I needed their faces, their hugs, their noise, every day, to get me through his deployment.
I tried calling back but there was no connection available. The next few hours before he called me again, I spent researching books to read to make myself better so I could raise his children and be good for them. At a minimum, I needed to give them unconditional love, while their only biological parent that cared, was gone. I read four books in two months. My favorite was, “A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom” by Jacquelyn B. Fletcher. I wish I could tell you it was happily ever after, but the real “blender” of our stepfamily, started then. “However you jump into the chaos of early stepfamily life, if you are trying to help your stepchildren and your husband with nothing but the best of intentions, it hurts.” They were with me as I began my journey as a stepmother intending to be the greatest mother they could ever have. Heart and soul, they became “mine.”