I met Olive when I was twenty-one years old and in my fourth year of undergraduate school. Olive had just turned four, and her father and I met in a summer biology class. I remember our first interaction. It began with him poking fun at a very green drink I was sipping out of a mason jar. However, his knowledge of its ingredients–the spirulina and cholorphyll–gave away his approval of my alien drink. Our bantering went on, and not long into it, he pulled out a picture of himself with Olive at Sesame Street Place. In that moment, my heart skipped a few beats. After class, he suggested (not so ironically) that we have tea at Dobra Tea downtown. Unsure of what would become of our meeting (or us for that matter), I decided to explore the possibilities, knowing it could quickly develop into something that I had no experience in.
The nature of our relationship, indeed, developed quickly.
I spent all the time I could with Olive and Steele. Many of my friends would refer to me as a “kind-of-mother” or step-mother figure. Feeling uncomfortable and disingenuous as a “kind-of-mother,” her my “kind-of-child,” and a (big) step from being her mother, I would correct them in their assertion, and simply say, “Olive and I have not defined our relationship.”
Olive has a mother, who holds an important presence in her life. I was not interested in forcing a maternal identity upon either of us, especially so early in my relationship with her and her father. To be honest, I was terrified to assume a role as a step-mother. I wanted our relationship to grow on Olive’s terms. I decided to do my best to nurture our relationship through curiosity, openness, and compassion, while facilitating an environment of joy, stability, and equilibrium.
As years passed, my relationship with my now husband deepened. We live together (Olive lives with us every other week) as a blended family. Our blended family also includes Olive’s mother. We all see the value and benefit of spending time together each week and supporting each other through our varied activities and endeavors. For this, I feel so grateful.
Olive is now nine years old, and a wonderful sister to my first-born Fiona. My relationship with Olive evolved into one in which I consider myself a co-parent.
This feels authentic.
I love your love story and hearing a positive experience with blended families. My partner now 40 has never wanted children. My now 13 year old daughter came to live with us full-time a year ago. He is my best friend and he cares greatly for my daughter.
Great post, and wonderful to see a blended family here on the blog. Juliana, we met briefly at a playgroup. Everyone looks great!