Learning to Love Stepmotherhood

I never really wanted to have kids. Then I met William. He was everything I was looking for: funny, good-looking, ambitious, hard working. And did I mention he had an 8-year-old daughter?
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SAMANTHA DELLINGER

Smart Mama

I never really wanted to have kids.

They made me feel awkward.

I just had trouble relating to children. I also really enjoyed my freedoms of coming and going as I pleased.

I liked my late, late nights out with friends and sleeping ‘til noon.

But most of all, I just didn’t want to worry about the well-being of another individual. Sound selfish? Definitely. I knew deep down that I had selfish tendencies, and I knew that I wanted my significant other to be focused on me and only me.

I couldn’t help that I felt this way, but at least I felt I was honest with myself in what I wanted in my life.

Then I met William. He was everything I was looking for: funny, good-looking, ambitious, hard working. And did I mention he had an 8-year-old daughter?

Gulp.

I didn’t meet Britni at first. William and I wanted to make sure we were going to be together for the long haul before I met her.

The day soon approached when William and I felt it was OK. So many worries ran through my head. What if she didn’t like me? What if my own awkwardness would make her feel awkward, or what if I said something inappropriate?

I wanted to make our first introduction a good one. And I didn’t want to disappoint William.

I still remember the first day I met her. She was upstairs in her room playing, and William introduced us.

I remember looking at this little girl and her smiling up at me. She was so cute with her light blond hair and big blue eyes. I thought to myself: This isn’t so bad.

My fears soon subsided.

We spent our first day together at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It was the perfect icebreaker for everyone.

William bought us bracelets in one of the gift shops. Mine has a small seahorse with pink beads. I still have it, and it’s a nice reminder of that day.

After William proposed, I knew I wanted Britni to be a part of our wedding day. So, I made her a junior bridesmaid.

Becoming William’s wife also meant I became Britni’s stepmom, a label I hate. It just sounds awful, and stepmothers don’t have a good reputation, just look at all the Disney movies.

But, I wanted Britni to know I was going to be her friend and not act as a replacement for her mom.

*****

In the seven years that Britni has been a part of my life, I’ve watched her grow from a little girl into the young woman I know today.

Having her in my life made me realize that I could be a mom, and maybe even a really good one. I slowly realized that I wanted to be a mom and that I was ready.

The birth of my son was a defining moment in my life. Vincent was born on March 17, 2004. I now know that I do have the room in my life to share my love and time on someone besides myself.

Now William, Britni, Vincent and I have so much more to give to one another, and I wouldn’t change a thing. (But I won’t lie to you, I do miss those mornings of sleeping in.)

Samantha Dellinger is design editor of Smart. Sign up for a free subscription to the magazine at www.smartmamapa.com.

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