Thu 6 Jun 2013
Kerri Ann wrote to me sharing her journey from successful single girl to stepmom. Her wit, wisdom and honesty will touch you. Her heart for her family and the everyday challenges is refreshing. Enjoy Kerri’s story and check out her blog Simplicity Interrupted.
From Single Girl to Stepmom by Kerri Ann
Three years ago I was a single law school grad. My cares and concerns revolved around my job search, my social life and caring for myself and my dog. Are you sensing the theme? It was tough work, obviously. At the time, my five year plan involved landing a dream job, finding the perfect man, and living happily after. And three years later, here I am with all of that accomplished – kind of.
The job is not anything I set my sights on in law school, but it challenges me every day and I am always learning and growing as an attorney. And the man … well, he is my perfect man. Except that I never dreamed my perfect man would be older, divorced, or a father of two.
My life has definitely taken on a new focus. Now, I am grocery shopping for four, baking cookies, and packing lunches. I’m helping with homework, coloring and crafting at the kitchen table, and folding doll-sized laundry. I am playing Headbandz, listening to Radio Disney, and having impromptu dance parties.
The amount of four legged friends in my life has doubled. My beloved Michael Kors purses have turned into carriers of crayons, snacks, band aids, and permission slips.
Any mom will tell you that this is her life too – a life that no longer revolves around just you anymore. But moms have an advantage of a slow but steady evolution to this point. It can be jarring to the system to have an insta-family, with no real preparation for what is to come. And, especially at first, it was difficult for me to determine what my role really was. I was busy – busier than I had ever been – and I was doing mom-type things. But I am not the mom.
Their mom is very active in their life, whether they are at our house or hers. It’s great for the kids – their parents are in constant communication about homework, doctor’s appointments, after school activities. I would never wish that to change. But it made it difficult for me to determine what I was bringing to the table, when the phone would ring with instructions on what to pack for lunch, who needed what at school the next day, and whose birthday party Todd and I would be bringing them to that Saturday. There were (and still are) times I felt like hired help – baby sitter, maid, dog walker, snack preparer.
Knowing that I “chose this life” made it difficult to talk it out with friends and family. This is not a situation that is easily understood from the outside – the relationships and the emotions are complex and confusing. It was something that Todd and I were going to have to work on for ourselves, and only I could make the decision of whether I was happy in this undefined role.
It’s taken a lot of work, but we’ve gotten to a comfortable place. I am not their mom. But I am Dad’s partner, and that’s pretty significant. Todd and I make sure that our relationship takes a front seat – date night is a priority, spending time together each week is a must. We’ve decided that it is really important for the kids to see a healthy, loving adult relationship, and that they deserve the security of knowing that they cannot pit us against each other.
And as for my happiness in the role – well, it took some soul-searching. I still feel like hired help at times, but then I remember that I am not doing any of this because Todd or their mom asked me to. I am doing all of it because it is what I want to do for the kids. When I get really overwhelmed with the situation, I stop to think – if someone else was caring for my child … if someone else was putting my daughter’s hair in a ponytail, getting my son ready for baseball practice … how would that make me feel? I don’t have children and this thought causes a wave of uncertainty & regret … so I can only imagine what it feels like when it’s really happening. This allows me to take a deep breath, and do what needs to be done, knowing that empathy is the only feeling I should ever have towards their mom.
The kids – they are thriving, and they are teaching me and helping me grow more than they could ever understand. Without them, I’d never have developed this level of patience, never would have really understood what true empathy and compassion means, never would have learned how to make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Now, as I’m picking up socks, making pancakes, and rushing home from work to read Harry Potter before bed – I smile. This may not be exactly what I pictured for my life, but it’s beautiful and happy, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Kerri is an attorney in Boston and a lifestyle blogger at Simplicity Interrupted. She lives just north of the city with her fiancé, Todd, his two children (half the time), and their dogs, Stella & Coco. She loves joining the #TwitterStepMoms conversation on Twitter, and can also be found on Facebookand Instagram!