The little things in life
Andy and I were comfortably settled in our hotel room, lazily talking about things to come, when he tentatively asked if I would ever consider moving to England to be with him. As most of you know, I said yes, without very much hesitation at all. This conversation took place over four years ago, back when both of us knew that he could never leave his children to be with me and that I would have to be the one to make the move. At that time we both weren't sure how things would work out. We figured that because Andy was so used to working overseas to make a living, that after I originally settled in England, he would start taking jobs in places such as Russia, or Dubai and I would travel to be with him. This however was not to be as the situation with his ex was very tumultuous and if he left so soon after their separation, he ran the risk of losing contact with his children. So it was our decision that we were to make a life here locally, at least till things calmed down and Andy could be assured of seeing his children regularly.
Again, things didn't quite go to plan. Over the Christmas holiday of 2004, Alex ended up moving in with us as things weren't going so smoothly with his mother. There really was no other alternative that he come to us. I knew when I took up with Andy that when you have children they must take first priority, no matter what the feeling of the adult involved. So although Andy was working away, and the responsibility would fall primarily to me, I agreed to Alex moving in with us. He ended up staying with us for just over seven months. During that time I experienced a multitude of emotions, one that took precedence was the feeling that I had lost my freedom. I often thought that if I was looking after somebody else's child I might as well have one of my own. Even after Alex left to go back to his mother, this feeling stayed with me. When he did decide to go back in June of 2005 I found myself to be a little dismayed. As much as I thought my life had been put on hold for him, I was still surprised to find myself missing him.
Somewhere around the beginning of 2006 I put all thought of having a child of my own with Andy on the back burner and we decided to just get on with life as it was and enjoy each other and Molly and the children when we saw them. However, by Spring it was apparent that life wasn't working out so well between Alex and his mom, ultimately resulting in negative behaviour at school. We figured that he would be coming back with us in the very near future, and this time to stay. On June 14th of this year, Alex made the very difficult decision to come back to us on a permanent basis. We welcomed him back with open arms. In July we made the trip back to Canada with his brother and had a fantastic time - I don't think any of my family could have been happier with the way things turned out, and I think it was obvious to all the very close relationship I had with both boys. There were only two disappointing factors of the whole trip: 1) that Andy's daughter didn't join us, and 2) that we had to return Connor to his mother when we arrived back in the UK.
However, life went on and Alex stayed on with us. He began school in September and just last week his school broke up for Autumn Term. I was so proud of Alex - he had gone from an average of 2 detentions a day last year, to not one since he has come to live with us. Alex and I have settled into such a natural routine its strange for me when he is not here. At our coaxing, he spent most of his week off down at his mother's. He is such a willing, intelligent and kind boy I can't imagine how someone cannot make it work with him. And I have completely changed since the first time he came to live with us. Life is better with him in it, our home much more interesting. My nights have more purpose when he is here, definitely more direction. Tonight we went to ASDA's to get a few things and as I was checking out the books he approached me to say he'd found something he really wanted but it was Â£9. Without much thought, I told him to go get it. In the middle of the aisle, he wrapped his arms around me with a big thank-you, before running off to get what he was so excited about. Something so small, yet this 14 year old boy had no qualm about hugging his stepmom in a very public place. Honestly, how could I possibly ask for more than this?
I must be doing right by Andy's kids to receive this kind of love. I will say this, they might not be born of my flesh, these boys, but they are certainly born of my heart. I really don't think I could want for more.