Yes, me. I’m going to be a grandma. Not a biological grandmother, but a grandmother nevertheless. A step-grandmother. This is the most exciting news we had in our family last year! My husband Ian’s oldest son and his partner are having a baby, due in April. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would join a husband in the title of grandparents at the tender age of 34. I mean I knew from experience that relationships with guys my own age never worked out. It wasn’t quite fair to expect younger fellas to cope with my questioning mind and unorthodox way of life. I knew I would end up with a much older man but it seemed way more likely that I wouldn’t end up with any guy at all. I just never found the right connection to fulfil what it was that I was looking for. Until I met my husband, who is now about to become Grandpa.
I also didn’t even know that it was physically possible for a woman to be a biological grandmother at this age, only because it’s not in my frame of reference. The thought never crossed my mind. My mother told me a true story of a woman she knew well who became a biological grandmother at the age of 32 or 33. This woman had a daughter when she was 16 who then also had a child when she was 16. The story sounded really far-fetched to me but I guess this was very common many years ago. The story is only foreign to me because it’s not the way I would have done it or the way I have been seeing it done.
My husband says that this happy news doesn’t feel very Grandpa-like, probably because his youngest child won’t even be two yet when his first grandchild is born. But I also think he doesn’t feel very much “Grandpa” because of the awesome relationship that he has with his kids. Poppet will be an aunt before her second birthday but I really believe that these little ones will grow up like cousins.
I should have probably started this post off by sharing some details about my step kids. There must be some of you who don’t even know about them. The truth is that I simply respect other people’s privacy.
It’s not a case of dishonesty or omitting important details about my life. Many people probably don’t even know that I have a brother and a sister-in-law with twin cousins to Poppet.
Some people prefer to keep more of their private lives private and it’s not my place to share pictures or details about them just because they’re part of my life and I’m a blogger.
Other people have different preferences, or they simply don’t actually care about who knows what about them.
More about how I met my husband and my relationship with my steps:
Everything was just so aligned when I met my husband and later I seriously fell with my arse in the butter when it comes to family life and in-laws.
My husband Ian and I met a few days before our first date. He had been living in New Zealand for 8 years and was here on holiday for a month, visiting his family. After observing him for a while and noticing that it was mutual, I had a plan with this man. We were going to have some serious fun for 30 days!
He gave me the best hug I ever had when I said good-bye and after he said bye to everyone else I asked him for another one of the world’s best hugs. He asked for my number.
On the first date, I didn’t know how old he was, but I knew that he had two kids. I assumed that they were school-going kids. Cautiously approaching the age subject, I asked him how old his eldest is. He answered 26 and added that he is an Occupational Therapist. I was highly impressed learning that he has a child who is already working, and as a medical professional. His youngest was still a Sports Science student at the time, turning 22 later in the year (2015).
I asked him: “If your eldest is 26, how old does that make you?” He laughed and said 48. I was 31. He failed to tell me on the first date that he was about to celebrate his 49th birthday two days later, lol.
After spending only 15 days together we knew that this was it.
He decided that he’s moving back here. My plans changed very quickly from “I’m gonna have fun with this man” to “This man is a keeper”. I had fairly recently come back from another 3 years abroad and I loved my job in digital medical media. I was back in Joburg after we moved to Cape Town when I was 10 years old. He tried to sell New Zealand to me, but I told him that the grass is greenest where I water it. I said: “I have a tiny patch of gravel and I love watching the pieces of grass coming up.” He said: “I’d like to bring some fertilizer.”
I was so infatuated with my then boyfriend and learning that his kids were no longer living at home took it up a notch. If I’m perfectly honest, I was feeling very relieved and hopeful about a future with this totally amazing man.
In fairness, I hadn’t met the kids yet and not knowing what to expect, I wouldn’t particularly imagine myself as a great ‘dad’s girlfriend’ or stepmom.
You see, where I come from and the way I was brought up in a “broken home” there wasn’t too much positivity between ex-husbands and ex-wives. This was only my skewed perception as a child. There were some positive relationships between steps, but they were certainly not in abundance. Complicated and challenging relationships are what I know and naturally what I would expect. Challenges from my past that aren’t necessarily big enough to have been a deal breaker with this awesome man but definitely big enough for me to have had this at the back of my mind.
I had some commitment issues and distorted ideas about marriage to overcome before I tied the knot with my husband.
The big move came with huge challenges and I spent many hours talking to my then boyfriend on Skype, giving him every single reason to run for the hills.
I felt it was really important for me to hold on to my independence and while I fell hard for this man I also found lots of comfort in keeping the back door open at that stage.
Half way through our journey to living in the same country and in the same house, this crazy guy flew all the way from New Zealand to Johannesburg for only a weekend!
This very random act of kindness was all it took to confirm that this was a man of his word – because when he called me for a second date I told him that I don’t want to go out, he’ll have to come to my house, I’m not cooking supper and there’s nothing else on the menu either. To which he replied; “Listen, I just want to see you, I’ll fly to the fucking moon if I have to.”
After spending hours every night on Skype getting to know this guy and often hearing stories about his kids, I assumed that his kids and I weren’t going to have much of a problem. And if we had problems, they wouldn’t be serious ones that we wouldn’t be able to sort out.
I met the kids for the first time on Skype. I knew I was about to meet them. I was nervous.
They are such amazing boys. Well, they are men but to us they are “the boys”.
My first impressions blew me away. They still had South African accents and they were just so natural and genuine.
Gareth’s partner is a delight too. She compliments him so perfectly. They are so great together.
Fast forward to today and they have all been out here a few times and we have spent some holidays with them. I couldn’t have struck a better jackpot with my step kids.
After I had met them in real life for the first time, I was feeling more proud of my husband than I had ever felt before. But I thought he couldn’t have raised such brilliant kids alone and I figured that their mother must be one very special woman.
Before I praise my step kids too much, let me confirm that it can be a challenge for any person to welcome kids into your home that aren’t yours, no matter how great they are and no matter how old they are.
As the stepmom (or stepdad) you are new when you haven’t been around since the kids were born. When the kids are all grown up like in my case, there is a lot to learn about them and vice versa.
There are of course things about my amazing step kids that annoy me a little bit. And I’m sure there are many things about me that annoy them too.
I won’t elaborate about how fit and healthy they are, but the stupid little things that annoy me are pretty much things that I wish were bigger priorities in my own life.
I’m seriously lucky and so blessed with such respectful, open minded, considerate and easy-going step kids. I don’t feel any pressure to be anything I’m not, to live up to any standard or to meet any demands. This could have been so different and I’m sure it is for many.
One of the biggest family lessons I’ve learnt from my husband and his family
Ian doesn’t resent his ex-wife and mother of his boys.
There is no reason to hate someone because things didn’t work out. If you have shared a part of your life with someone, any part, it was part of the picture that helped shape your today. He still phones his ex-wife on her birthday. We exchange Christmas and New Year wishes too. She’s the mother of his kids! I exchange messages and pictures with her every now and then. Parents who share children are also always going to communicate about their kids when necessary after divorce. But they can also communicate some of the positives when it’s not really all that necessary. Family relationships after divorce don’t have to be ugly or unpleasant or awkward. Very much to the benefit of the kids and the whole family.
Whilst we don’t live in each other’s pockets at all, we try to make an effort to all get together for a dinner or something when the kids are here, despite the fact that we all live far away from each other.
Ian and his ex-wife have been divorced for 15 or 20 years, or something like that, I forget. She is one amazing woman and mother. There is no reason why they shouldn’t genuinely be able to tolerate each other and be friendly to each other today.
Where I come from and what I was used to, this was not the case. It appeared to me that when the kids were all grown up, there was no reason to ever speak to your ex unless your child was almost dying. It was kind of normal to have two families that didn’t mix at all. If ex-husband and ex-wife happened to be at the same funeral or some mutual gathering, they were civil with each other and there may have been some brief and awkward (yet positive) small talk, but certainly no discussions or festivities shared between the new couples.
Now, I’m in a family where everyone gets along because they want to.
I absolutely love this new kind of ‘dysfunctional’ family life where we can celebrate the big things together and it has really shown me that there are often better ways to do things than the way I know.
I’m so grateful for the family that we get to share these times with and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised. This is not at all what I expected from marrying a man with kids.
The gender of our grandchild
It’s a girl! (excited screaming!)
Ian and I both thought it would be a girl and I was very secretly hoping for a girl. I know you’re supposed to say “As long as the baby is healthy…” and I probably did say that to someone at some stage but I’m so chuffed that it’s another girl baby.
I’m going to try very hard not to spoil this kid rotten.
And if we are looking after her and Poppet together, same rules will apply to both. They will either both be having ice cream for breakfast or be given eggs with no other choice.
I’m too excited, man!
There is a second grandchild on the way for us! He or she is actually my niece or nephew.
My baby sister Mikela and her partner Geoff are also having a baby! (excited screaming!)
The baby is due in August.
For those who don’t know, I played a huge part in raising my sister who is eleven years younger than me. She was like my own little baby doll since she was born. When I was 20 and she was 9 she lived with me part-time (until she left school) while our mom was living overseas for personal reasons that I support.
Today my sister Mikela is all grown up and she’s my bestie but she’s also still exactly like my little girl, if that makes any sense.
When she was young, people used to tell me: “Wait until you have a child of your own.”
The challenges and triumphs I faced were the same as any other parent. Like being called to see the teachers at the school. Or consoling a teenage girl with a broken heart about a boyfriend or the lack thereof, and, and, and. The biggest difference between parenting now and ‘parenting’ back then is that I have a partner to share the journey with and that I am also recognized as a parent now. There is loads of support from a community of parents.
My sister is by clinical definition my half-sister. We always joke and say she is my half-sister, half-child. (And I can tell you now that there is nothing half about this incredible woman!)
So, between these four walls, my sister’s unborn baby is known as my niece-grandchild.
It goes without saying that I will not experience the true feeling of becoming a grandmother until my own grandchild is born, but you guys, I am so excited about welcoming our grandchildren into the world this year!
I could hardly wait to share this news with you, but I had to for obvious reasons.
About 7 months ago I wrote about the emotional rollercoaster of having more kids of our own and you can find the post here. An update on that journey – right now we are perfectly content with our one little poppet in the house. A second opinion from a Urologist indicated that my husband’s journey to a zero? sperm count was very odd but it would appear that everything is in order now. I concluded that post by saying that if there is another baby on the cards for us, he or she will come into our lives. And as it happens, the Universe is perfectly aligned and we are now blessed with two more on the way, exactly the way it’s supposed to happen for us.
In the month of love, I also like to celebrate family. Those people who also support us and love us just the way we are.
I’d love to hear some of your family stories and I’m keen on those delightfully dysfunctional family stories of yours too.
With Love & Gratitude,
Laetitia (Granny, crazy smiley face)
This is not a Sponsored Blog Post
Pictures of the gender reveal party were Sponsored by Leigh Benson Photography