One quirk of being a stepmom caught me by surprise — big time.
I met my husband 15 years ago. This was pre the “swipe-right” era, and I’d met dozens of guys through JDate, Match, and just about every other platform, but none of them stuck until I received a message from a man 11 years my senior, with a hard-to-make-out but pleasant-looking profile pic and nothing alarming about his interests. Let’s call him Bruce.
Bruce’s info seemed straightforward — “normal,” even! — and his message was nice. An overwhelming percentage of my previous encounters were more nightmares than dreams come true, so it felt like the odds were against me. But I’m no quitter. I carefully read his profile from top to bottom, and there it was. Kids. He had ‘em.
My first question: How many? His profile said “three or more.” One kid, OK. Two kids, maybe. Three? More? How many more? I had to get this question answered, and fast, as a woman who was 99% sure she didn’t want children of her own. Phew, he had three kids, but was stuck with selecting the “or more” box since it was the only option. He’d been divorced for years, he was seemingly successful, sweet, and sincere, and he wanted to talk on the phone. So we did, and so far, so good.
Let’s fast forward. When I met Bruce’s kids they were all tweens; they’re now in their 20s. I certainly didn’t “raise” them, but I’ve had a good degree of involvement in their lives. Bruce and I married in 2012, with all three kids by our side to celebrate this new chapter. Little did I know that I’d be a grandmother before I got my first gray hair.
Bruce has two sons and one daughter, who was in her very early 20s when she made the big announcement. The very same day — literally — my younger sister called me to tell me she was pregnant too. The babies were expected one month apart, with Bruce’s daughter’s baby due first. Bruce would become a grandfather far sooner than he’d anticipated. And much to my surprise, I was going to be the “step-grandma,” effectively another grandparent this baby will know from birth. Not that people can’t be grandparents in their 40s — plenty are — but I’d had no intention of having children, let alone grandchildren. It wasn’t something I’d considered when I took a chance on Mr. “Three or More.”
Was I thrilled to become a grandma? It wasn’t what I’d envisioned, at least not so soon. But Bruce’s daughter was excited, and I was happy for her. I was also looking forward to meeting my niece or nephew, but not nearly as enthusiastic as my own mother to become a first-time grandma. Then it hit me, the funniest part about all this: I would become a granny before my mother, provided the due dates were accurate. And even more entertaining, my mother would be a great-grandmother before becoming a grandmother. We were all amused by the out-of-sequence-ness of it all, and I imagined the branches of the family tree bending to accommodate our circumstances.
The “babies” are turning five this year. They play together. It’s really cute. Relationship-wise, they are some degree of cousins that we still get confused about. Do I feel like a grandmother? Not really, but a little boy calls me “Grandma Melissa,” and it makes me smile. I’m more like his second grandma, because he’s much closer to his biological maternal grandmother, but I love him, and I’ll always be there whenever he needs me.
Odds are that Bruce’s two sons will one day have babies too. And his daughter may have another (or more). I’d better get used to this grandma thing. I’ve got to be a good role model for my mom.
Melissa A. Kay is a writer, editor, and content strategist with more than 20 years of experience in the publishing field in the areas of family, beauty, health, employment, lifestyle, technology, and more. She's a cat mom, step-mom (and grandmom), and loving aunt, wife, and daughter. When she's not writing, you'll find Melissa doing something creative in the kitchen, exercising at the gym, or "socializing" kittens and cats at her local cat rescue.