When I first became an “unmarried step-mum” Monster didn’t have a huge time impact on my life, my partners access was minimal and we had a lot of “free time” to be a couple in our own right. As you will know from my previous posts, this changed – in different ways both gradually and suddenly and over the past 4 years our access has fluctuated greatly from a day a month to every weekend and some weeknights to our current arrangement of every other weekend and one weeknight. The point is, it has changed… and it may change again.
At times, our lives have had no structure, preplanning has been impossible and trying to have our own life has been almost completely unmanageable. That wasn’t really what I thought I was signing up to at the beginning. Though, to be honest I can’t remember what I thought I was signing up to!
Even though now we have a good structure and routine to the time we spend with Monster, as always the potential is there to change again, and I have no way of predicting in which way this may happen. Based on my own and other Step-Mums experience, I might expect:
1. Our access to reduce
2. Our access to increase
3. To gain full time custody
4. To lose almost all access
The potential is all there, anything could happen… and I have to be emotionally (at least) prepared to deal with and support my family through any of those potential outcomes.
I’ve read several stories of Step-Mums who have started with part-time, sometimes very intermittent custody and care of a child, and then found an unexpected situation meaning that overnight, they have full-time care of their step-child. These stories, sometimes positive, sometimes not, have all made me realise that by making a commitment to my two Monsters – that commitment needs to remain no matter what. In being a step-Mum, there is always the potential to be full time, though in my experience being a step-Mum is always a full time commitment, no matter where the little Monster is.
I have considered how happy or satisfied I would be if our arrangement were full time and fortunately – yes I think I would be very happy. Actually, while there could be some ‘drawbacks’ and less time for alone time, there would also be a lot of positives which could make our lives much easier. I’m actually not an advocate of either parent having 100% custody, so I won’t wish for it but if it happens, we will certainly be ok.
Through good times and bad is an expression just made for the blended family and given the history that most blended families come with, the stability and security that sentiment provides is all the more important.
When nobody has full control over a situation, I come to one of my most used step-Mum mantras… just go with it! Love your family and make the most of every moment you spend together, I don’t waste any time trying to make future predictions – as and when circumstances change, we will deal with it and hopefully continue to thrive no matter what happens.