What makes a good stepmother
The art of being a good stepmother
As long as I can remember, I've wanted children, three, maybe four. I dreamed of a classic family, but grew up with half siblings and a loving stepfather myself. I have fond memories of that time. Yet it never occurred to me that I might one day love a man who already has children. Mark is eleven years older than me.
I met him when I was 27 and a project manager in an advertising agency. I was looking for a new job and switched to the corporate communications agency that Mark runs. At the time his daughter Marie was two and his son Jonas a few months old. I knew his children and his wife, Mark knew my boyfriend. Sometimes we would meet in the evenings and talk about our relationships. We weren't happy. If we were sitting together.
Working part-time because of strangers' children?
I left my boyfriend and Mark his wife. Not an easy time. He felt guilty and missed the children he only saw every other weekend. After nine months we moved in together. His ex-wife was now a single parent. She was overwhelmed with the situation and asked Mark if the children could live with us. That meant: with me. They weren't supposed to stay in the daycare until 6 p.m., but Mark couldn't reduce his working hours as managing director. I, however, do. For two weeks I thought about whether I could and would like to look after two small children.
My friends advised against me. All. Only work part-time because of other children? Be dependent? No way. But it felt right to me. I knew Mark and I would stay together, I knew he would be calmer if his children were with us. And I just wanted to create a family life and have children of my own at some point. I wrote all of this to Mark in a letter: Your children are welcome. You knew me. We baked cakes together and went to the zoo together. At first I sat in the playground and felt like I was in a strange city. I didn't know a single mother. My friends worked until the evening, they rarely wanted to visit me after work. New friendships slowly developed through the day care center. When they found out that these weren't my own children, other mothers were amazed; I felt their respect.
Do what mothers do - without being a mother
Sometimes I fell asleep on the sofa in the afternoons after work before picking up the kids. Because I got up at six in the morning. Or made milk warm at night. There were moments when I wanted to throw everything away. In addition, Mark's ex-wife initially did not stick to agreements, showed up when it suited her. I felt like a nanny with her back free. The children are now with their mother every other weekend and one day during the week. We found a rhythm.
I love my patchwork children, they call me Mama Sylke, but I will remain their stepmother. My commitment will never mean as much to them as the care of their birth mother. And the special pride with which you as a mother say, look, that's what the child has from me, in a certain way I'm denied it. That frustrated me sometimes, especially in the first few years. I weaned them from pacifiers, taught them to swim and ride a bike, did everything that mothers do - without being a mother. It was bad when friends with babies said to me that there were some things I couldn't understand until I had given birth myself. Not very comforting at the end of a long day.
You are not our real mother, the children would sometimes say when they came from their mother. I know, I thought, but what am I then? Bonus mother? I am responsible for their basis of life. I lacked recognition. I have often wished my birth mother would thank me. Jonas had to go to the hospital once and it turned out that he had a chronic autoimmune disease. I cried when the doctors told me that. And the little one sat next to me and asked: “Mom, what is it?” In the evening his mother asked: “Why didn't you call me right away? You can't sign anything! ”I just wanted to do everything right, I wanted to stay calm.
We grew together as a family
Of course my husband supports me. But he's also watching me, parents can't help it. “Don't be so strict with them,” he would sometimes ask me when they returned exasperated from their mother. When we argue, it is often about the different rules and values in two households. Only since I have two sons of my own have I been more relaxed about it. Oskar is three years old, Karl nine months. My husband's parents were concerned that I would neglect the blended children if I had my own. But the opposite is the case, we grew together as a family.
After the birth of my first son, I thought Mark would spend the night in my hospital, carry Oskar around. But he had to go home to the other two. It was his third child and I understood that we couldn't really share this premiere. At times I regretted it, but we were parents before we had our first child together. How do I get through this everyday life for seven years? The answer is simple: I love our four children and it makes me happy to see them grow up. Your pride, when you have achieved something, is also my pride. In their midst, I feel safe. And I find many things easier than other mothers because I am a trained stepmother.
The day my daughter moved out: Empty Nest Syndrome
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