This morning my son sent me a text message to say his girlfriend has begun having contractions – which have since stopped and started and stopped again – regardless the baby is coming (be it today, tomorrow or next week) and this has raised all sorts of emotion in me.
This new baby is not biologically my son’s yet he’s been with the baby’s mother for almost the entire pregnancy. The girlfriend treats my son’s little boy like her own and my son in turn has been there for her every step of her baby’s short life from the first movements, to birthing classes, to sticking by her side today as labour has stopped and started and stopped again.
Raising happy, healthy children is a massive undertaking. As is maintaining healthy, sound relationships with all of the involved parties when relationships break up and family dynamics change. Step families have a dynamic all of their own with all of the extra people involved; from different partners and new siblings, through to step parents and step siblings. Wrap this entire group up with lots of emotion, plenty of personality and opinion and you have a good idea of how challenging step families can be.
The early years of family life were challenging in my world – with my husband’s ex-partner, my ex-partner and then all of the grandparents and family members who didn’t suddenly stop loving the children or wanting to see them because their parents had split up.
Consider Christmas which is hard work at the best of times; it’s harder when you have to coordinate four immediate households, four children (plus their step / half siblings) and numerous aunties, uncles and grandparents. Christmas is exhausting to say the least.
You may wonder where I’m leading with this post…
I’m excited for my son and his girlfriend, but I’m also a little reserved because I’m not sure how I should act. Am I a proxy grandma, a step nanny – I’m not really sure where I fit into this picture. This baby already has two sets of grandparents and I don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes. Then I realise I’m probably being stupid about the whole thing and I don’t have to ‘fit’ anywhere. I realise no baby can have too much love or attention and that biology alone does not make a loving family member.
Regardless, I guess this newest member of the family, when he finally arrives (yes, they already know it’s another boy – why am I not surprised?), will no doubt enchant us and beguile us. He’ll add an extra element to Christmas Day and I will goo and gaa over him, hug him and cuddle him just as I do with my own biological grandson.
In the end – happy, healthy babies and loving families are all that matters – biology surely doesn’t count for as much as love and emotion does.
What’s your experience with step families? Do you have special ways of dealing with the ex-partners, extra siblings and family occasions?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Fiona from Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia.
Image credit courtesy of Vlado of Free Digital Photos