Originally Posted by cakoala
Again, all of your postings are adding more insight. Now that I know the shorthand, it is a big help as well. I must admit that even though I am a very intelligent individual, the thought of all that must be learned and executed is very frightening. I know that I can never get it perfect, but there seems to be so many ways to get it wrong. I congratulate all of you who have stable, and loving children. It is quite a feat.
I've read all the posts in this thread and it is, without a doubt, the most personally meaningful thread I've read/posted to since I've been part of the MDC community.
I feel your trepidation and anxiety viscerally. I am a person who, despite having children, probably has the "non-breeder gene." (My conscious decision to have children of my own is another story for another day, or maybe an off-line conversation.)
The other parents here will vouch for the fact that I love my step-children and care for them in the same way that I care for my own biological children.
But I have a secret that I don't often share with others because, in light of my lifestyle, it is embarrassing and difficult to explain. My secret is that I don't particularly like other people's children. I am not drawn to children. I like my non-child-centered activities. I don't often choose to do activities with my kids or step-kids that would necessitate us being around other children. Other people's kids don't make me feel warm and fuzzy, I don't feel particularly drawn to babies and I don't find schools, day-cares or summer camps charming or cute.
MY DH and I each have two children from our previous marriages. We both share custody with our ex-spouses and I often choose not to be home in the evenings when my step-children are at the house, but my biological children are not.
That said, I'm a good mother and a good step-mother. The feelings I have for my step-children are genuine and I never feel the need to pretend to have feelings that I don't. I truly love them.
I feel confident that you can make a relationship with this lovely mama work.
My advice is four-fold:
1. Take care of yourself. Make sure you continue to spend time, effort and money pursuing your own non-child-centered interests. You will be a better person when you ARE around the kids if you don't force yourself to be there when you'd rather not. DO NOT sacrifice your own happiness and fulfillment to make this relationship work, because if you do, it won't.
2. I came to love my step-children not because they are children or even because they are the children of the man I love. I fell in love with my step-children because they are wonderful PEOPLE. I feel very confident in saying that had I ever felt any kind of dislike for my step-children, I would not have continued the relationship with DH (then my BF). Not liking his kids would have been a deal-breaker for me. I recognize that this is a very personal choice and that there are other step-parents who have very successful marriages without particularly liking their step-children. I knew that *I* could never live with people I didn't like - children or not. My advice is that you make an effort to get to know your love's children as PEOPLE. Yes, of course, children come with a certain brand of neediness that grown-ups don't, but they're still people. If you find that you don't like the kids, you should very seriously consider leaving the relationship.
3. BE PATIENT. Just as you don't develop a relationship with adults overnight, you won't develop one with kids overnight either. Take things very slowly. Do not scold or discipline your darling's kids. Be a good listener. Take your cues from the kids. They'll let you know how involved they want you to be in their lives. Always be kind to them. If you feel angry or frustrated, get away and get some space. At first, it's very important that you don't put yourself in the position of having to be overly responsible for the kids. Always leave yourself an out. It's really okay. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad partner. And BE PATIENT.
4. Keep talking to your partner. Don't leave things unsaid. It sounds like you two are already good communicators, so it likely won't be a problem, but KEEP TALKING.
Good luck, my fellow non-breeder. If this is the journey you're supposed to take at this time, it will be evident.