At 40, after years of trying to find “Mr. Right”, I finally found my perfect match.

It was a long haul… sifting through the many frogs, the horrible dates and the endless lonely nights… but when I found him, it was bliss.

Something about the hard journey that makes it that much sweeter when you actually find “the one” later in life … a little more appreciation, the insight into what it “takes” and the foresight to not sweat the small stuff.

I was literally elated.  Finding this match was more than I had ever dreamed of!

I guess I had modified the fairy tale slightly by this point but still…it was the best thing that had ever happened to me.  Except the tale never factored in his ex.

Nor had it included the nuances that came with being a stepmom and part of a blended family.  We were starting a new life together but his old life wasn’t exactly gone.

They shared four children and her presence seemed to consume me.  I saw her everywhere – every other weekend, a few nights a weeks and during the days without kids I still felt her out there.

I got lucky with the children – we hit it off right away and I truly fell in love with them.  In the beginning, it was all affection…. I was so excited to have them around I couldn’t help but spoil them… I became a camp counselor, the “Disneyland” parent.

But then reality set…

The kids got used to me… I was no longer the most exciting fun person on the planet.  I got tired of making concessions so as to “not rock the boat” with the ex.  I got frustrated by the millions of back and forth phone calls between homes.

And I got confused… confused by my role.

How do I make this work?  How can I create a life with my husband that doesn’t negate his past.  How can I do right by my step kids and respect their original family unit?  Where exactly was my place????  Often an underrated role and sensationalized as the evil monster in movies and books, I felt insecure and unsure.

I poured through books and blogs and forums for the answers. I looked to friends who had already experienced this dynamic.  But their stories seemed different… Most were blending two sets of kids with both sides bringing the same level set concerns… I was going at this alone.

I quickly realized it was going to be turbulent.  

There was no way of getting around it… the family began before my time and I had to find a way to function within it, creating a new environment without feeling haunted by the past.

It was and still is tricky….

Often I stumble, get jolted, and even suffer from pangs of jealousy.   Sometimes I’m not sure if my actions are appropriate – are they too involved or not enough?

But then my husband wraps his arms around me and I find my place.  And I know I have to persevere.

Newlywed Step-Mom

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