I have been lucky to have a bond with Lily since the moment we met. I’ve always been good with kids, working as a volunteer at a Youth Club at the age of 15, to then being a Young Advisor I was used to being around teenagers – toddlers not so much.
But when I met Lily something just clicked between us, from being shy at first, to laughing and joking with me just 10 minutes later was an amazing feeling – almost as though I had been accepted into her world.
Now, I am not in any way saying this is a bad thing – the relationship I have with Lily is like she is my own and I’d never want to change that – but what comes with that is the assumption from everyone that we meet that I am her mum… and then comes the explaining.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I almost felt rude at first to interrupt and say ‘oh, she’s not my daughter’ – but then also didn’t want to leave it and have Lily think that I wanted to be her mum – and overshadow the relationship she has with her mum.
In the early stages I felt there had to be boundaries, and me calling myself her mum, or in fact letting others assume I am mum without correcting them, crossed that boundary massively. Lily has a mum, who she loves unconditionally – and there is no way I am getting in the way of that, then, now or ever.
So how did we overcome this assuming from third parties? Honestly? I’d play the situation by ear – let it play out and interrupt if I needed to – but a lot of the time I found a polite way of letting that person know I wasn’t Lily’s mum without being rude about it, like commenting on how we were heading to Mummy’s soon in conversation. Keeping it light and cheerful – mentioning her Mummy as a signal that I wasn’t her biological parent without being blunt.
I do feel sometimes in the modern society we live in, people shouldn’t just assume that I am mum – but they do, and now, after more than five years, Lily and I both look at each other and smile. We see it as a joke, something that we laugh about afterwards.
I am not her mum, yes I am (not legally) her step mum yet either (soon!), but more than anything we are friends. Best friends. We share similar traits (much to the annoyance of Chris), we laugh, joke, share stories, and spend a lot of quality time together.
Sometimes it gets to a person being called mum by a third party when they’re not – but remember, that assumption was created by the clear friendship and relationship you have with that child – see the positive and smile through it – it’s not the end of the world, and you’ll learn to love the assumption!