This topic is very close to my heart, almost as close as my stepchildren! For many who don’t know, my stepchildren live with us all the time. They have been living with us since their biological mother decided to not be a part of their lives when they were just four and two.
Fast forward five lovely years, and we live like any other normal family. The kids call me ‘mummy’ and I am practically their mother in every sense. My day begins with waking them up and ends with checking on them in bed fast asleep. Not wanting to sound selfless, but for the longest time, I didn’t follow my career path to raise these two munchkins just the way I would have wanted to if they were my own. I chose to be there for every school event, I chose to be there for every fall they’ve ever endured to every failure they might have to overcome and of course, every success they’d need cheering for. We have been living in a lovely little cocoon of ours where, the mention of ‘stepfamily’ doesn’t exist.
But now I am pregnant with my first child! It was a big deal to even coming to planning another child let alone telling the news to the kids. So many worries encapsulated me and particularly my husband. What would the kids think? How would they feel about it all? They will start thinking about their biological mother and worry about her absence afresh.
Our kids have always known that that they have come from a womb of another mother who loved and cherished them for as long as she did. As they grew, we even showed them their mother’s pictures. So far so good. But this is different. There is going to be another baby in the house. Even a biological sibbling at times develops massive jealousy issues and anxiety, our kids are living a different life (even though we try our best to make it normal).
Some of our concerns were true. Our youngest who practically never talks or asks about her mother started talking about her, expressed an interest in seeing her picture and wanting to share it with her friends. A part of me cringed (so I didn’t allow the picture sharing) but it is not about me. We showed her the pictures and went through the history all over again without making it a very emotional/sentimental episode but as a matter of fact. Kids tends to deal with matter of facts better.
We have been there to answer all their questions, including, ‘Mum will you still be able to play with us, cook with us and read us books from time to time?’ Oh God Yes!!
Our son found out about my pregnancy through a card someone sent me to congratulate us. He seemed very excited about it then. But we could also tell, he had something going on inside of him. We had weeks and weeks of physical tantrums like trying to throw things at us, punching, shoving etc etc.
Both my husband and I had to have a calm chat with him. We offered to answer any questions or worries he may have in his mind. My husband is good at such kind of talks.
My health is partly to blame as well. We often forget that parent’s illness can have such a deterimental effect on the children. My first 5 months were horrible due to hypermesis. I looked like I was dying. My kids were convinced I was dying. I am the primary care-giver in this family. I am the BOSS!! But when I fell pregnant, the whole house fell apart. There were days I wouldn’t see the kids because I never got out of the bed. I couldn’t stand the smell of my children and husband to even give them a hug. It was dire. It was only natural for the kids to have felt abandoned already, insecure and worried about their mother’s life and worst of all, it might have been a huge struggle to connect to this baby whose presence made their mum so poorly. But things started to change as my health started to get better. My husband asked me to pull myself together for the sake of our children. So I did!
Whilst my husband took care of answering all the kids’s worries with a talk, I took a different approach. I chose to indulge both the kids in feeling involved in this pregnancy and connect with the baby even before it is born. We discussed how they could help once the baby is born. Reuben chose to take the role of a big brother who reads to the baby a story a day before bed. Irene, in general, has been very excited and has helped me sort out baby’s wardrobe’s, choosing and chucking away things for the baby from a pile of second hand clothing’s that we received from so many different friends and acquaintances.
Taking them to the shops and asking them to help choose things for the baby, made them really excited. They both want to take the baby to the Howlett’s zoo when it is born, only so that they could buy the baby it’s first cuddly toy.
Icing on the cake was when they both felt massive kicks from the baby when they spoke to it. Now the baby listens to both it’s sibblings say hello to it when they come back from school and a very loving good night before they head off to bed.
Children are very uncomplicated. A lot of love and reassurance does the trick mostly. Letting them know that you are always happy to answer any of their queries makes them feel secure and involving/indulging them in the process of preparing for the new baby.
I am really grateful to have been blessed with such a lovely family already, especially my stepchildren. Without their kindness and acceptance of me in their lives, I would have never experienced motherhood the way I have. I feel so confident about becoming a mother to my first child; and that is because of Reuben and Irene. People always say how lucky the kids are to have had me in their lives, but I think it has worked out for both parties equally. They have taught me how to love selflessly and above all how to be a mother.
Do any of you have stepchildren? How did you speak to your stepchildren about your pregnancy? Please let me know through your comments below.