The instant I first held my 8-pound baby girl, a wave of perspective, patience and grace rushed through my soul and changed my outlook on the world instantaneously.
As I stared into her bright blue eyes, I thought, “I don’t want to let you go, ever. I can’t imagine life without you.”
I was filled with so many emotions, some good and some bad. Some I knew I would feel, thanks to the copious parenting books I had read. Then there were completely unexpected feelings that hit me like a ton of bricks.
But if you had told me that giving birth to my own baby would make me feel empathy, understanding and peace toward a person that I could barely find one nice word to describe, I would have argued with you until I was blue in the face.
Surprisingly, holding my baby, I felt positive emotions for the first time about this person who I had struggled to understand for many years: my stepson’s mother.
Being a stepmother for over five years came with its highs and lows. Some days, I felt like a failure. There was confusion and anger on both parties, because co-parenting is not a walk in the park.
However, the day my daughter was born, I became a better stepmom and a better person overall in many ways.
I became humble
I realized that sometimes it isn’t always about my problems, or me in general. Before, I was in some ways a spectator watching all of their pain, but not quite understanding what the big deal was. I was so wrapped up in my own feelings of confusion.
I realized that co-parenting is not a competition
Those times I thought my stepson was rejecting me? Perhaps he simply wanted to be with his mother. At the end of the day, a child needs their mother, no matter how hard that fact can be to stomach. His mother and I do not have to compete for the same love; we each have a different type of relationship with this child, and I respect that.
I began to learn patience
When my stepson doesn’t say, “I love you” back; perhaps he isn’t ready to share his love for his parents with someone else. Love takes time, and when that time comes I will be forever grateful.
I showed empathy
Spending weekends without my daughter seems impossible, yet my husband and my stepson’s mother each do just that, every other weekend. I feel empathy for his mother (and my husband) when they are away from their son, especially on times like holidays and birthdays. I also feel empathy for my stepson, who had to feel torn on several occasions. By putting myself into their shoes, I seek to understand, rather than doing what is always best for our family’s side.
I understood unconditional love
When I became a mom, my selfish feelings lessened, and my heart exploded for not only my daughter but also my stepson. I feel more confident as a stepparent now. Maybe it’s a newfound mothering instinct that naturally happened to me. I don’t know why or how. I know I will never replace his mother, nor do I try to do so, but I will love him like he is one of my own until the day I die.
The birth of my daughter forever changed everyone in our blended family. I cannot always explain how the arrival of my daughter caused such a powerful impact on our family. What I do know is that I am forever thankful of how much progress our blended family has made together. There is less stress, and more respect for one another. We may not always agree, but now our family seeks to understand — and above all, to put our children first and our issues last.