This mother discovered her own strength and sense of self after divorce, and then passed her wisdom to the young women she raised.
My non-traditional family is, for better or worse, becoming much more common. I met a man with three teenage children, and in short order we were all living together in a 600-square-foot house with a new baby on the way.
My daughter was born and became the centre of my world. I often joked that had I not breastfed I would have never held my daughter, as my stepdaughters’ would even fight over who got to change her diapers!
In the years to come my step children came and went from our home, living with us for periods of time and then going to live with their mother. My step children’s mother had some health issues so the children all lived with us for a time, and as their father’s work took him on the road, a majority of the parenting of these three teenagers fell to me.
I won’t lie, it was a difficult time. Three teenagers are never easy to wrangle and I was a complete newbie at this. I remember screaming matches and it wasn’t always the teenagers doing the screaming. But despite the difficulties—normal teenage angst, losses and grief, an unplanned pregnancy leading to one of the girls bringing home a granddaughter who has grown into a lovely 25-year-old woman—we were a family.
After 10 years with my partner, and I found myself a divorced single mom. I was on my own with a nine-year-old and despite having been an independent career woman in the travel industry before she was born, it felt totally different now that I had someone dependent on me. I continued to run a daycare from my home for a couple of years and quickly recognized that I needed to find a way to meet people and re-enter the world. I joined Toastmasters, and through the people I met in that great communication and leadership organization, my world has changed completely and in very positive ways. I stepped way out of my comfort zone to have a career in the investment industry and regained the confidence I had as a young woman. I have spent the ensuing years volunteering in my community, developing my Toastmasters skills, chairing a provincial board of directors and lobbying the provincial government for funding—all things I would never have done without the trials that I went through earlier. However, I am most proud to have shown my daughter and stepdaughters how to survive and thrive while being on your own—and to do it with a smile.
I am so lucky to have siblings who have always included me in their families, and brothers-in-law who have been positive male influences in my daughter’s life, as her dad has chosen not to maintain a relationship with her or her sisters.
We will all be together soon as we gather to celebrate my daughters engagement! I treasure my relationship with my daughter, and although geography effects the frequency of my contact with my step kids, we are still family!
**Since the original writing of this post my daughter delighted our family with an engagement party that morphed into a surprise wedding!
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