One of the first big questions I asked Mr. B when we started dating was whether or not he wanted more kids. He definitely did not and I was relieved to tell him I was on the same page. Although there are families that make it work, he did not want to add a baby into a divorced-and-remarried parental situation. When we started getting serious A and M were 8 and 11 (they are 11 and 14 now) and adding another child into the mix did not make sense to any of us.
Being a Parent
Being a stepmother has been - by far - the most rewarding and most difficult thing I have experienced. Having the kids half of the time has its benefits and its challenges. Mr. B's job has been very difficult and time consuming and I have stepped into the role of primary parent when the kids are with us. I cook most of the meals, I take the kids to school, etc. It is not a position I ever thought I would find myself in but I actually kind of like it. I like it half of the time.
One day Mr. B asked me if I would have gotten serious with him if he had the kids full time. You know what? I would not have. I know that may come off as harsh but the truth is I never wanted to be a parent. It wouldn't be fair to anyone involved for me to "make it work" just because I loved Mr. B. I now love A and M as if they were my own and obviously if something happened and they were always with us from this point, we would be great. We have even talked about setting some legal procedures in motion so that if something were to happen to Mr. B, I would still have rights to the children.
A and M have made me a better person than I ever knew I could be. Having them come to me with a problem they think I can solve (honors algebra or 5th grade girls, not sure which is trickier), seeing the smile on A's face when she learns something new, helping M try a new hairstyle... These are the things that make me grin from ear to ear. We spent the summer together at lacrosse tournaments and taking trips to Toronto and Niagara falls...
Mr. B and I ran the race by ourselves the year before and doing it with the kids was so much more memorable. I know I lucked out in the stepchild department and I am just keeping my fingers crossed this wonderful relationship continues through high school!
Not Being a Parent
I am at an age where it seems as though all my friends are having children. It is just the natural progression of life. A few years ago my fridge was covered in wedding invitations. Now it is covered in birth announcements and family Christmas cards. It is difficult for me to explain how this makes me feel and I really hope I do not offend any of my friends who may be reading, but here it goes....
I have been asked if I feel like I am missing out by not having children of my own. By not being pregnant, having a baby, having a biological child. The truth is I do feel like I am missing something in my life right now, but it isn't what you would think. I miss my friends. I miss our old relationships. I miss happy hours and Sunday afternoon movies and weekend trips. Heck, I miss shopping trips. I do have some close friends who aren't yet at that point, but in general on a rare free night when Mr. B asks if we should see if anyone wants to do something, I frequently find myself telling him there is no sense in asking anyone because everyone has a baby at home. We do rarely make time for lunches and brunches but when we do, 9 times out of 10, it is a family affair. I don't blame them, I almost blame myself for not being able to move on past that life. Past that time when we could go to dinner and get drinks and no one was worried about breastfeeding or relieving a sitter.
I haven't figured out yet how to balance it. I am the only one of my friends who has children half the time. When I have a free Saturday night, very few others do. I know I am not the only one in this position. I just need to figure out how to deal with everyone wanting to ask me if I have an emptiness inside and not being able to truly explain the emptiness I have.
I can say with confidence that Mr. B is surprised by how much I have stepped up to the role of stepmother. I almost think it makes us closer because he sees how I think of the kids as my own. He doesn't really understand how I am feeling right now and I can't truly explain it to him. He doesn't get why I am okay not having kids of my own, although I know for a fact he wouldn't be with me if I wanted children.
I am considering having a procedure that would alleviate the intense physical pain I have once a month. It would prevent me from ever having children. My doctor was a bit skeptical of how okay I was with that fact and how I didn't seem to give it a second thought. I assured him it is something I have thought about for years and I have never - not once - had a hint of changing my mind. Mr. B is worried that something will happen to him and I will remarry and decide I really do want children of my own. I don't know how to fully convey that I will never have that desire without making myself seem like someone who hates children.
The one part of having children that I feel I am missing is the bond between a pregnant woman and her partner. It just seems so intimate to me. So special. Mr. B's ex wife did not enjoy being pregnant and did not have pleasant pregnancies, so this concept is lost on him. Am I crazy for thinking it?
Overall, having A and M in my life has made me a better person and a better partner to Mr. B. I am grateful for them in my life every day and I hope everyone gets to experience that kind of love, whether it be through a child or some other way.