My husband had a 2-year-old when we met.
I wasn’t comfortable calling myself his stepmom until we’d been together for almost two years and had been living together for almost one year.
It was a mixture of uncertainty, fear, and self preservation that kept me from claiming the title.
I was also young. When we met, I had just turned 21 and he would be 26 before the end of the year. Entering into a relationship with someone who has a child, especially with as little life experience as I had, is daunting.
A lot of people told me not to.
I didn’t want to accept the title of stepmom until I was sure things with his father were going to last. For his feelings, and my own.
Up until that point, my longest relationship had been two and a half years. And there had been several break-ups and make-ups in that time. When we met and decided to see if it could work, I also had one more year of university to complete, on the other side of the province.
It was slow. We took our time. My stepson and I got to know each other, got comfortable. Fell in love. He doesn’t remember life without me, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him now.
We’ve had our ups and downs. He’s 8 now, and we don’t always see eye to eye. I don’t have that parental bond with him that his biological parents do. I can be short tempered and impatient. And he can be standoffish and dismissive. But we have a special relationship.
We have a bond that’s just ours. I’m the face he searches for when his mom and dad aren’t around. I’m the one who makes pancakes with Nutella just the way he likes them. When he was little and washing his hair was torture, I’m the one who could do it without him shedding one tear. I’m the one who pulled out the baby tooth no one else was allowed to touch.
When I tell him I love him, he tells me he loves me more.
It wasn’t instant. It took time and work.
And even though I had my own son — his brother — last year, he’s the boy who made me a mom.