She's technically not my step-daughter yet, and if I stick with just the off-hand comment of how my fiance has a child, it sounds like I'm not involved in her life. I don't want to ignore her presence either, because obviously she is a big part of my life. "Soon-to-be step-mom" is awkward and clunky, and referring to her as a room mate is clearly not an option.
I suppose part of my hesitation to label the relationship I have with Sophia is related to my hesitation surrounding our relationship. After all, I am in her life half the time, helping to make sure she gets to bed on time or that her room is clean. I know my actions and moods are going to effect Sophia whether I am super involved or not. I hope that one day she will feel comfortable coming to me with boy troubles, or questions about girl stuff, if said stuff happens when she's at her father's.
I also am a little lost in the many myths and expectations of what step-motherhood is and who step-mothers are or should be. The term step-mom makes me feel like I should be older or more mature or better equipped to do this job. I'm only 24, and sometimes I barely feel able to take care of myself, let alone another person! I am not sure if I deserve the moniker of "step-mom" quite yet. I don't feel very parental (though I don't necessarily know what constitutes feeling parental, either) and sometimes I'm not even sure what to say to Sophia. Nine-year-old conversation can be very confusing to somebody who is not a nine-year-old.
In any situation, one of the most important things I try to remember is that I am the adult, and I need to act like it. Whatever I want our relationship to be, I need to be the one who nurtures it and steers it in the right direction.
Sophia and I seem to be working it out though. We take it one day at a time. I indulge in the opportunity to buy every children's book I loved when I was in elementary school for her, and she indulges in the opportunity to look at me like I am crazy when I give them to her (she is not a big reader). I have started to appreciate that she's a girl who likes a good skull and crossbones design more than she likes hearts or flowers, and am buying her clothing accordingly. I have played Guess Who Extra a few more times than I would like to (though I put the kibosh on that after an argument about whether or not a caterpillar was a house pet). I am basically doing the best I can.
In any situation, one of the most important things I try to remember is that I am the adult, and I need to act like it. Whatever I want our relationship to be, I need to be the one who nurtures it and steers it in the right direction. I'm the one who needs to put myself out there! If I want Sophia to come to me with those boy troubles in a few years, I have to make sure she knows that I am there for her in any kind of situation.
So, while I can never make up for the fact that I missed out on the first seven years of her life, I feel like we can have a wonderful, close relationship regardless. I'm not going to tell you it's easy, or that I never get frustrated with her or with myself, or that we have this picture-perfect little family. That would be a lie. But if you think about it, any kind of relationship in your life requires time, patience, and effort to make them into a worthwhile and productive association. The boss in this case just happens to be a little younger and more prone to eating PB and J for every meal.
At a doctor's appointment the other day, the doctor asked when I was planning on having children. "Never," I replied, "I'm almost a step-mom, though." I went on to explain about how my fiance has a nine-year-old daughter and how she lives with us half the time. "Oh honey," the doctor said, "there is definitely no 'almost' about your situation."
I suppose that's true. Regardless of what I tell other people, or what they assume about me, Sophia and I have the relationship that we have. Though I haven't yet found the words to describe it, it's working for us. Even though some days I am really confused about what to do or say, I'm still here, and trying my best.