Being the Other Mum

If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be where I am now- a 21 year old woman with an awesome baby, a fantastic partner and his 7 year old son, I would’ve spilled my drink in a fit of laughter. Yeah right. Not me.

These last few years have been a roller coaster, alright. I’ve learnt many useful life skills; the art of hushing a screaming, teething demon child, the most effective ways to clean the aftermath of a poonami and all the words to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song. But aside from adjusting to all these wonderful aspects of my new lifestyle in motherhood, I’ve also had to learn to care for a much more advanced little person. I’ve been thrown right in the deep end with Half Shot. It’s been challenging, but he’s taught me so much about life.

When I first met Half Shot and his mother I was nervous shiting my pants. Not literally, of course. (Although Little Shot did manage to have a conveniently- timed nappy explosion on my lap five minutes prior to this terrifying encounter.) I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew she didn’t think highly of me at all. In her eyes, I was a young, stupid girl who was dating her ex, and was in no way fit to be looking after her son. In some ways she was probably right; I mean, you can’t expect to hand over seven year old over to someone and just expect them to know what to do. Seven year olds are on a level of their own. It isn’t like experiencing birthing and raising a person who you grow with and know off by heart from day dot.

I personally couldn’t imagine handing the responsibility of looking after my own child to someone I didn’t know. It’d be like chopping out a piece of my heart and handing it to a stranger, hoping they’d do everything they could to keep it beating. So the fact that she has let him come into my life has been a huge blessing. I’m sure it took a lot for her to make that decision, so the best thing I can do is to try my absolute best to make sure that when he’s in my care he’s happy and safe. I’ve got heaps of respect for her, regardless of what she may think of me, and I can see that she herself is an excellent mother, as it reflects in their amazing son. In fact, it’s the kind of result I’d hope for in my own son, if I could do such a good job myself in his life.

He’s such a special kid. He’s so compassionate. He definitely has his father’s big heart. He’s very well mannered and respectful towards everyone around him. He has a crazy imagination and hilarious sense of humor. He’s honest, and he’s wise beyond his years. Sometimes he’ll say something totally out of the blue and I can’t believe how he comes up with it all.

It’s hard for me, personally, to know where I stand. There are so many delicate boundaries and barriers, and sometimes it’s hard to know when to speak up or keep quiet, when to step in or when to turn away. One thing I know in my heart is that I would never want to step into Half Shot’s mother’s territory, as I know how much the role of a mother entails, and no one can ever take that space. At the same time, I want her to know that while he is in our care he won’t miss out on having that mother figure around, and that he’ll always have someone there quietly reminding him to brush his teeth, flush the toilet and help him tie his shoelaces. I hope she can learn to trust me, and I’m very glad she’s given me a chance to prove myself. It’s hard to learn it all at once, but I’m really, really trying, and I hope she understands that, too.

On the other hand, I can imagine coming into my life must have been terrifying for him too. Coming home to New Zealand to discover his dad is now with a new partner and a new baby must be a huge lot to take on for such a young person, but he’s handled it all in such a mature and understanding way. I can tell that even though it’s hard for him to understand Little Shot and where he fits into the picture, he really has a spot in his heart for him. When he was just a month or two old, Half Shot gifted to him his favorite dinosaur soft toy which he’d kept from when he was a baby. He told us it was one of his favorites, but he wanted him to have it. That small, sweet gesture really made me so happy, and solidified the feeling in my heart that maybe, just maybe, we might just be alright after all.

Little Shot can’t even talk yet, but I can tell he really looks up to Half Shot. His eyes light up when we mention his name, and as soon as they see each other he beams with joy. He might just be his favorite person in the world, I think. Brothers or not, I hope over time as they grow together they can find a way to form some kind of a family bond between themselves. Those relationships are so special and can grow to be something really beautiful. These two youngsters have really taught me that it is possible to find lifelong friendships and special blessings, even in what could be a terribly messy or complicated situation.

There were some huge adjustments made to all of our lives, really, and we’re still working through it all, but I’m hoping and praying that with a little time and effort, we’re all going to make it work. Everything’s going to be okay.

If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be where I am now- a 21 year old woman with an awesome baby, a fantastic partner and his 7 year old son, I wouldn’t have believed you. But now that I’m living the reality of being a mother, a partner and a stepmother to an awesome young boy, I wouldn’t have my life any other way. I love the life I live and the amazing people who are a part of it.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

– Douglas Adams

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