So my husband and I traipsed into “Re-married with Children No Man’s Land” the other evening, when yet, another large bill for his children’s care was brought to my attention.
Sigh…. Should I stop here? Those who live this situation are probably already thinking, “I have so been there.”
I know when I bring up the cost of children, some will nod in their contrite, knowing way, and sigh and utter, “Well, you knew he had children before you married him.”
Yes, I did, and rather than judging me for my apparent lack of foresight or my assumed dim-witted, unwillingness to lie in the bed I have made (clearly implied by the above statement)- I would flip that statement around and say-
I chose to marry someone who had already shared a marriage, birth (or several births), and a divorce with another woman. How wonderful am I that I felt I was strong enough, brave enough, loving enough, kind enough, open enough to even TRY to tackle this in the first place. If anything speaks to a stepparent’s committed, large, and loving heart, it is that she or he knows from the beginning that life (his or her married life to be specific) will have to be open and strong in a way to include others. If there is anything that indicates an open and loving heart more than that, I do not know what it is.
Like any marriage, a remarriage with children is about compromise and sharing. What has caught me off guard is how easily my piece of this sharing can be consumed by HIS children and their needs.
I am a giving and generous person. I give up half of my life to his children (which significantly changed AFTER we were married). Until we were married, his children were with him 2 weekends a month. Now the custody split is 50/50. Why?? Because there is a loving, giving stepmom in the picture who makes it possible for the children to spend 1/2 their life with their father. My presence enables this to happen because I am the one who cares for the children each morning, handles homework, dinner and such. Personally, I would like to think that this is quite a gift I give him and his children- time together and the chance to share life. In fact, some may consider this to be the greatest, most generous gift of all.
But, still more is needed and expected. My salary contributes significantly, in small and large ways, to the quality of life my husband is able to provide for his children. Of course, we have tried numerous ways to divide up the expenses, but at the end of the day, my piece of the pie is altered by his children. The vacations we take, the money we have for “extras” are easily consumed. Please know, I would never begrudge my stepchildren the basics (and beyond) in life. I happily take them school shopping, buy them books, help foot the entertainment bill for them and such.
The current situation that brought our finances to the head, and had me hoarding my piece of the pie, was the subject of “specialized” costs for his children. We are talking a $5000-$6000 bill that I was supposed to be o.k. with??? Why? Well, because he and his ex- had talked and according to their decision, this current expense seems to be in the best interest of the child.
Of course my husband reassured me that he would never agree to something like that without talking to me first. But, it was in that moment that I realized I was sharing my most coveted piece of pie- my husband. I have come to learn that my husband will always be shared with another-not intimately, of course- but he and his ex- will always share in the parenting of the children in a direct and mutual manner of which I am not invited.
The fact that I, or any stepparent, could share this aspect of ourselves and our most cherished relationships is, in a word, amazing.
So here is to all the stepparents out there- brave and unselfish enough- to share one of life’s greatest gifts.