But what about the girls?
Stepmom. Never thought that would be me. I completely admit the first meeting was a complete disaster, ending with me forgetting how to speak French, having an anxiety attack in the parking lot, and neither party particularly enjoying the time we had together.
But slowly, with time, I fell in love. It was easier than I thought - the falling in love part, not the stepmother part.
I was fortunate since we lived 10000km apart so we had the gift of time to slowly get to know one another with short visits. By the time we all moved in together, we had our long distance relationship for a good four years.
Moving into together full time was HARD. The youngest had just turned sixteen and it was an age I couldn't comprehend. Wasn't it just last summer she was sleeping with her stuffed animal? Now...she in full teenager mode. And the oldest had become an adult...without me realizing it. She was always mature and independent, but now she was staying out, working three jobs while she was on summer break, and there was the new....sense about her.
I will also admit that I was very, very proud to call them my stepdaughters. They were crazy smart, beautiful, responsible, caring...All that came well before me, but I was still proud.
I'm not going to say that every moment was filled with joy on either of our parts - because it wasn't. But that's what made it feel more like a real family. We didn't always get along. We annoyed one another. But...it worked. We laughed together. We had some amazing conversations. I watched them impress me time and time again with their maturity and personalities...and I felt welcome into their lives...even when I thought I didn't feel it.
I have to be thankful to the girls' mom as well, who was kind & helpful to me. We were never best buds, but we got along which made things much easier.
I'm thinking about them tonight because we are making plans to see each other for the first time since I left...I asked if they'd like me to bring the dog...and they said no...because they would be too sad when they said goodbye.
I know they think that Maggie is in the best place. I know that they know I cherish her and take very good care of her. But it breaks my heart to know that...they hurt. And it breaks my heart even more to know that...they are no longer my stepdaughters. For as long as I'm in Montreal, it's likely that I'll be a "close family friend", which I will GLADLY accept because they could have chosen not to keep in touch with me at all.
But secretly...I thought they would babysit when my ex & I had kids. I thought I'd be there for when they got married, for when they had children of their own, for when they finished university...even to celebrate New Years together this December. I...took advantage of the fact that...we were a family now...
But we're not.
I'm still very thankful that they are such wonderful girls. That still want to see me. I'm not sure how they all process this...I'm sure seeing their father upset & stressed is very hard. I'm sure that sometimes my lack of presence is hard too...but sometimes it's easier maybe.
I'm trying to count my blessings here. I'm lucky to have met them. I'm lucky to have been in their lives and I'm lucky to have been in their family for a short time. I'm lucky that we are going for ice cream on Monday.