“I love you, Mom! You’re my best friend ever!” is something I never expected to hear from my youngest stepdaughter, who is special needs and four years old.
Any mother can agree that motherhood is a journey. Some days are easier to tackle than others but nonetheless challenging at the same time. Being a new mom just a couple months after being married is something that takes some time adjusting to. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have the time to sit and adjust. I needed to tackle it on full steam ahead!
Being a stepmother can be more challenging, in my opinion, since there are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. However, there’s definitely a fine line that is easily crossed; with a heavy heart, to love a child that you didn’t give birth to. When it’s crossed you find these motherly instincts you weren’t aware you had or knew existed.
Full time, I’m a stepmother to two daughters now living with us; which is much different in my opinion, than when they didn’t live with us.
I told my husband prior to gaining custody, that I noticed something wasn’t right with his youngest daughter, which is hard for any parent to hear. I had a feeling about her not talking, between two and three years old. She wanted to hold every stuffed animal in the room, which was about four to five, in addition to her Sippy cup. When she would visit, she would do the same thing. She was a very good eater with no cutoff. Quiet. She never cried and was comfortable with everything close to her. Sometimes she would nervously shake or repeat a phrase she knew over and over. She wouldn’t interact much. To some that might not sound too out of the ordinary, but I still had a gut feeling about it.
When my husband and I gained custody, there I was, making all the necessary phone calls with doctors for her to be evaluated.
As a new parent, I found that you have to be your child’s biggest advocate.
There are so many resources out there, and you have to be persistent until you get the answers you are looking for. You might not get the answers you thought you would receive, but you will get a new lead on a new path to assist your child. Also, know you aren’t going through this journey alone. There is another parent out there who has gone through the same thing or is just about to.
My youngest stepdaughter was initially diagnosed with autism primary. The doctor said she was on the spectrum, but borderline.
What does that mean? Well, to be honest, he wasn’t quite clear and I didn’t understand how a child could be borderline. In addition, he said she had PICA, which explained why she would try to eat inedible objects and didn’t have a cut off for food intake. She had an attachment disorder, where she would cling to the familiar and fear change. She had a speech delay and poor fine motor skills. In addition to all of that, she was diagnosed with Hyperkinesis aka ADHD and was still not potty trained. She was unable to answer any “Wh” questions and wasn’t able to form three word sentences yet at age four.
Every six months we would go for a follow-up and in between, we would attend Driscoll Behavioral and Rehabilitation for Speech and Occupational therapy. As she got more and more comfortable with the sessions, her speech slowly made some progress. Getting her to stay focused was definitely a challenge because it was difficult for her to learn anything while being distracted by everything else in the room. I want to thank many patient-therapist for all their assistance with her and me.
During this journey, a week after being given custody; my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child together. Pregnant while handling all the new challenges of being a full-time stepmother to two stepdaughters who I didn’t initially raise myself was a bit much to handle, to be honest. Lots and lots of obstacles were in my way to get assistance as their stepmother, with a full time working husband.
There were a lot of tears, fears and a few proud moments with myself. Was I making the right decisions and was I tackling things in the right way?
Thinking, will she overcome any of this and am I giving her everything she needs to succeed? Like with most moms, many questions flood my mind day and night. Some days I pray for a sign; hoping I’m on the right path to being the mom these girls need right now.