Monday, 10 August 2015

My Step Daughter Got Married

When I was a teenager and thinking of options for the future with the career guidance teacher, becoming a ‘stepmother’ wasn’t discussed.  Nor was it listed on the CAO form as a course of third level study.  Connotations about what a stepmother might be had already been shaped by childhood fairy tales.  The stepmother figure was always a bit of a wagon, wicked in fact, treating some unfortunate orphan stepdaughter really badly.  The abuse always seemed to go over the hapless father’s head.  The stepmother usually had a hairy face, dodgy dress sense, spots and a pointy chin.  Not for me, thanks.

Fast forward to my late twenties and there I was, a stepmother-to-be, without training, or even a manual.   As it happened, a number of my friends found themselves in similar circumstances around the same time.  At least we could exchange stories to guide us through these delicate situations.  For children to find themselves in the role of ‘step-child’, there has been a traumatic situation in the past, whether it’s a relationship break up, or indeed, a bereavement.  None of this can be taken lightly. 

With your own children there is that blood connection that seems to force you to love each other, unconditionally.  You also have from the infant years to get used to each other’s ways of being in this world.  To earn their respect.  Would it be fair to expect, or assume any of this from your step-children ?  Hardly.
My two step-children-to-be Dylan and Zara were older teenagers and half-reared when I met them.  They had got along just fine without me up until that point.  They didn’t need me and I didn’t want to force myself on them and into their lives.  I just wanted them to like me.  What if they just didn’t like me ?  What if I didn’t like them ?  Eek !  How could I prepare myself for this ?  Like my other stepmother friends, I couldn’t really.  Just go for it with an open heart.  ‘Be yourself,’ my Mam said.  Thankfully, I think we all ‘liked’ each other.  The family connection strengthened when my children were born and Mya and Leon became ‘half’ brother and sister to Dylan and Zara.  I don’t like the ‘half’ description.  It's a bit odd.  Which half ?  From the waist up ?  Or split down the middle ?  My stepdaughter Zara had a baby girl, Sienna ten months after my two were born.  So now only was I a new mum, I was also now a step-granny, at the ripe old age of 34 and my infant children were an aunty and uncle.   Are you still with me ?  It’s all very confusing. 

Zara got married last weekend, to Gareth, Sienna’s dad.  The title, ‘step mother of the bride’ made me feel very WKD and I checked my face for stray hairs appearing and my chin protruding.  The wedding brought up lots of thoughts, about my ‘place’ in all of this.  Over the years, I have felt a range of emotions, some of which now seem irrational. 
Jealousy.  Yes, I admit it.  That horrible, pointless emotion.  Jealous that I could never compete with Zara's lovely mum in providing for her emotionally, financially, or otherwise.  But did I ever need to ? No ! Now that my children are older, and I am too older and somewhat wiser, I see how ridiculous this was. 

Seven years ago, I worried about how Zara would juggle new motherhood and college, and if she would be able to manage both, hoping that she would complete her studied.  She did, with flying colours.  One thing that I will take credit for, is that I was a ‘breast feeding role model’ for her.  Not many 21 year old mothers choose breast feeding, but my step daughter did, giving her little woman the best possible start in life.  I minded Zara as much as I could when she stayed with me when she was pregnant and doing work experience for college in Athy.  I showed her how to make a mean veggie lasagne … although she has yet to make one for me in return …. cough, cough !!
I have pride in watching Zara develop into a lovely young woman.  Seeing her grow as a mother.  Balancing motherhood and her career.  Her beauty and sense of style.  Her kind nature.  Her circle of friends that she has held onto and extended. 

I regret that we live so far away from each other.  Kildare to Sligo is a fair old jaunt and not one that you would make at a whim, especially with two impatient little ones on tow.  So, we don’t see each other often as I'd like.  But we soon make up for lost time when we do meet up.

I’ve known this girl since she was 15 and now it’s her wedding day.  Imagine.  Leon saying over and over that he ‘can’t believe’ that his sister was getting married.  Excited and proud. 

And there she is, walking up the aisle, looking beautiful, happy and confident.  Her wedding day is like one of the fairy tales where the girl does gets her prince (albeit in this case, a prince with a Sligo accent).  The WKD stepmother doesn’t interfere.  Instead, she stands back and feels nothing but love for this girl and wishes that she and her prince live happily ever after.

No comments:

Post a Comment