Being a mum was never high on my list when I was late teens, I was in limbo as to what I wanted to do – but I knew I didn’t want to be a mum just yet! Until I reconnected with Martin. By this point, Lily was already 3 and a half, and she quite obviously came as part of the package of being Martins partner.
In the early days, I was just “Becky,” (quite rightly so.) I was a newcomer to their duo, and I definitely didn’t want to be labelled as “mummy” from the word go, I was still undecided as to whether I wanted the relationship at all, and the last thing I wanted was to be tied to a wonderful little girl and hurt her feelings if things didn’t go exactly right. So for the first couple of months we met up – sometimes all 3 of us – and went out for play days at the park, taking my sisters dog for walks, going out for lunch, and other times just the two of us going on typical dates; long walks, dinners etc.
I remember one day, around about 3 months into our relationship, Lily and I were playing with her toy farmyard. We were pretending that I was the mummy horse, and she was the baby horse. La la la, happily chatting and role playing and Lily called me “mummy.” – or rather, she was referring to my character, “mummy horse.” I’d never seen Martin spin around so fast! He stared at me and said “What did she just call you?!” I smiled at him and just replied, “We’re playing a game.” That seemed to drop his heart rate a little.
We had always said from the start, that we would never refer to me as “mummy.” One day on the walk home from nursery she called me it, and I just responded as if she’d called me by my name. I remember she was quick to correct herself, and I said to her, “I will answer to anything you want to call me, within reason. Whether that’s Becky or Mummy, you call me by what you feel most comfortable saying.” And that was it, from then on I became mummy. Martin and I both agreed that so long as it was on Lily’s terms, then we wouldn’t stop it – but we didn’t force it. There was no, “Becky is now your mummy, Lily.” or, “You should start calling me mummy.” I didn’t agree with that at all, it had to be Lily’s choice.
Was I worried about it? Yes. I had millions of what-ifs going through my head. What if my family didn’t agree or Martins family didn’t like me? What if her real mum thinks I’m trying to replace her? What if Martin and didn’t work out? What if I had children later on and I loved them more than Lily? To name but a few. I was worried. But, they have all (thankfully) been hushed over time. My family have been amazing. They have welcomed Lily into their lives as a granddaughter and a niece. It got a bit confusing as once we welcomed William into the world, we’d talk about “grandma/grandpa/aunty ****” as I wanted William to know them by these names, and so Lily almost had to re-learn everyone by a new-but-same name. But the same goes for Martins family, they welcomed me into the family with open arms, and often tell me that I’m doing good! (Thanks! <3) And I can say wholeheartedly that I love both Lily and William equal amounts.
For people who don’t know us, you wouldn’t know that I’m a step-mum. Many a time when I’ve revealed this, people have been surprised. Lily and I just click. We were both so open and welcoming of each other, that now we just are mummy and daughter. I do a little gleeful dance in my head when people are surprised, it makes me feel good to know that I’m doing a good job!
But what about her real mum? Well, Lily is a very bright child and she is able to differentiate between the two of us. She knows I am her step-mum, she knows that this means I am not her real mummy, but that I love her still. If she wants to talk about her real mummy she will say “Mummy (and then her name)” not just to me, but to her friends and teachers also. If you ask her, she will say, “I’m lucky! I’ve got two mummys!”
I often worry about being a step-mum as the years press on. I await the day when Lily will turn around and say things like, “You’re not my real mum, I don’t have to listen to you.” or other things along the same lines. I know kids go through those phases of “my mum is the worst! I hate you! blah blah blah…” But, being a step-mum, she’s kind of right. I have no say over her or her actions. I might be raising her, but legally…I have zero responsibility. Yet. I’ve been looking into ways I can gain parental rights without being married and with both parents still having contact. (If anyone can shed any light on this, it’d be greatly appreciated! It all gets a bit confusing for me.)
For now, life is good and our family is whole. I am not step-mummy, I am just me. Mummy Becky.