I have the life that I always dreamed of having, except for one major part:
Since I was a little girl I dreamed of being a mom –
I could almost ‘feel’ my kids:
I imagined giving birth,
raising them with my values,
and being the best mom I could ever be
to 3 or 4 incredibly cute children who looked
just like me.
Little did I know how different this part of my life would be than I had originally dreamed.
When I met my husband Vince 5 years ago, he had a beautiful daughter named Autumn who was about to turn 7 at that time, and he confessed to me right away that he had had a vasectomy a couple of years prior to us meeting. It didn’t really bother me, because I knew that he could always get a reversal if need be, which he was absolutely willing to do if we decided we wanted to have more kids.
But something surprising has happened in the 5 years that I’ve built a relationship with my step-daughter Autumn:
as much pain and struggle as there has been in navigating this type of relationship,
I feel fulfilled in this part of my life,
and I honestly have completely lost the desire to have more kids.
Despite this reality of motherhood looking
NOTHING like I dreamed it would,
I actually feel fulfilled as a mom.
Sometimes the realization of your dreams doesn’t look like you thought it would,
but if you can let go of your original picture and
embrace what Life has given,
to be found in the new picture of your dreams.
Life always knows better than we do what we really want and really need for our growth and development –
Because of the following factors, building a deep connection with Autumn has not been easy:
1) She spends half the time at her other home
It’s difficult enough to be a parent when you are a full-time parent, but try parenting when your daughter goes back and forth between homes – practically every other day. It’s pretty difficult to build consistency in discipline, or in emotional connection, and you’re constantly dealing with the tug of the other home/parent’s values and routines.
2) She is very close with her real mom
Accepting that I will never be Autumn’s first mom in her heart, is still a work in progress for me. I’m getting teary-eyed right now just writing those words, because it’s still so painful. It’s painful to love her SO much, but to accept that she already has a deep and close relationship with her mom, and that as close as she and I get, I will never be her Mommy.
3) I don’t feel that deep, organic, motherly connection because I wasn’t with her when she was really little
This has been a hard one to admit to myself. I actually feel more of a natural, deep, motherly connection with my 2 nieces than I do with my own step-daughter, simply because I did have time with my nieces taking care of them when they were really little, and that’s a bond that never goes away.
4) She has the opposite personality of me
When parenting Autumn, I can’t think about what I needed as a child, because her personality is completely different from mine:
- While I was extremely sensitive and needed to be handled very gently, Autumn is a hard-core, tough young woman. She rarely cries, and rarely gets her feelings hurt. Such foreign territory to be a Feeler raising a strong little Thinker!
- While I loved doing everything with the adults when I was little and was attached at the hip to my parents, Autumn is fiercely independent, doesn’t need us for hardly anything (except food and chauffeuring her around town). And when she’s with her friends Vince and I don’t really exist.
Despite all of these factors, Autumn and I have
a very special,
How did I build this amazing connection with her, considering I was up against so many obstacles?
I had to do one of the most difficult things we humans EVER have to do:
I had to
Last year while I was sitting at home by myself, I faced my fears and I spoke out loud everything that I had held inside about my relationship with Autumn:
1) I admitted the REALITY of the situation
2) I felt and expressed the PAIN of the reality not looking like my original dream
3) I LET GO completely of my original picture
4) I EMBRACED what I do have with this amazing step-daughter of mine
Autumn is magnificent and is one of the greatest gifts in my life.
I feel like I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me.
She’s taught me
how to be carefree,
how to play,
how to laugh at bodily functions,
how to live in the moment and let go of worry,
how to feel young again,
how to be strong,
how to be confident
how to love myself.
When I released the musical story of my life, which is a 7-video series on YouTube called Noelle Remembers, I dedicated an entire 5-minute video to my relationship with Autumn.
As you watch us interact and listen to the song I wrote just for her,
let this be an encouragement to you
that if you can let go of life,
express your pain,
and be open to embracing a new picture —
what Life gives you may be better
and more fulfilling
than you originally dreamed it could be.