My step-daughter, Kerri, is engaged to be married.   We are all thrilled for her, and wish her and her fiancé, and her 7 year old daughter, every happiness in their new family.

Relations between stepmother and stepchildren are  supposedly difficult, yet I always found my stepchildren were more than willing to meet me half way.   They never lived with us full time, however, which probably made the situation less pressured.

My stepson, Darren, who is the elder, is a clever fellow, not obviously like his father in personality, self contained, tall, physically impressive, good looking.    He has that faint air of Don’t-mess-with-me, concealed beneath a thin veil of apparent good nature, common to all the Armstrong males.     He holds strong opinions and has high standards in things he cares about.   I have always found him to be of sound judgement.    He always treated me with every courtesy:  I cannot recall him ever saying (to me) a rude or unkind thing.   He is one of the people most graceful in departure that I have ever met, and this is such a wonderful attribute that it is a pity that more people do not possess it.   He married earlier, and he has a lovely wife and nice family that clearly give him great pleasure.     (Actually, when I re-read what I have written he is much more like his father than at first appears.)

Kerri is more out-going than her brother, and although she has a perfectly good mother of her own, I have had the pleasure of sharing some of the fun aspects between mother and daughter – helping her learn how to dress;  a distraught call from university saying she could only remember how to cook baked beans; my being required from a standing start to produce an assessment of D H Lawrence for an exam she hadn’t realised she’d have to sit that day (of course she passed!).   She became a teacher, and eventually Head of English and Drama at her school and I enjoy talking to her on these matters.   She’s an attractive woman, tall, honey blonde, a generous smile, an engaging personality.   She’s good-natured (a most rare quality in our family : I would say she was the easiest going member of it by far).   She’s always charming company.   She’s a devoted mother to her little girl.

One of the things I was most anxious about in relation to my step-children was how they would react to my own children, because when they were all small my stepchildren were so much the bigger and more powerful.  But I was touched and grateful to find that they were very kind and extremely patient to their half sisters and brother.

They shared our holidays, so we have memories in common of being together on my father’s fields in Banffshire; on Arran;  a holiday in Lewis;  holidays in France.    In France, elderly French gentlemen used to make me a little bow of acknowledgement as the Maman of such a fine, large family, and I always guiltily felt like saying (but didn’t), Ah no, all the credit is not due to me!

It wasn’t all plain sailing of course.  Your stepchildren as teenagers are just as much a pain as your own children will prove to be later.   We had a foretaste of the difficulties of each stage of growing up children in advance of actually experiencing it ourselves.  I remember wondering after the first few weekends the young children spent with us what was wrong with them that I was utterly exhausted after their visits!  Of course I later learned there was nothing whatever wrong with them:  bringing up children is just utterly exhausting!

As I write this, I realise how extremely fortunate I was in my step-children.   Being the children of divorced parents is not a joy ride for anybody.    Plus I am by no means a conventional or unchallenging person to deal with at close quarters.      John’s love for them and desire to be a good  father to them as much as circumstances permitted was the foundation stone we all leaned on, but the children themselves showed courage and resilience, and a capacity for forgiveness and tolerance, that enabled them to surmount all these difficulties with considerable style.   I’m very proud of my stepchildren, and honoured to be a guest at their weddings.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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