When I was 21, I became a step-mother. This is not a lifestyle choice I would recommend.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known who I wanted to be when I grew up:
- I would have tattoos and piercings
- I would have a motorbike
- I would have reptiles and a dog
By 23 I had made the first 2.5 of those things happen – I had everything I’d always know that I wanted, except the dog. I also had 2 children, although I’d never really wanted kids. That sounds awful so I’d better explain: they weren’t mine. I became a step mum at 21. It’s not a decision I’d recommend.
By 23, I’d been with my then-partner for 5 years, and with our girlfriend for about 2 years. She and her two children had even moved in with us, and we’d spent a little while living together as an unusual-but-mostly-happy family. The only real blip on my radar at the time was that we didn’t have a dog.
I signed up to Borrow My Doggy and started regularly borrowing an adorable but thoroughly untrained Boston Terrier named Squidge. I loved him, and the kids loved him too. I’d take them with me once a week, usually on Sundays, to walk the dog out in the countryside. My stepdaughter was more interested than my stepson, so I’d usually treat her to a slice of cake at a garden centre as a reward for getting out of the house and into the fresh air.
She also wanted a dog – naturally – and I backed her when she begged her mum to get one. I promised to take the majority of responsibilty for looking after it, but the reality was that my GF spent the most time at home because of flexible working and childcare so she’d have to get involved.
Eventually, my BF agreed that if I could find something small, non-shedding, non-drooly and hypoallergenic then he’d consider it. I was thrilled to have even the smallest opportunity, so I trawled through rescue sites looking for the perfect pup. There was no way I’d be getting a pedigree puppy from a breeder. I joked that the kids were rescues, so the dog should be too.
Finally, I found the perfect doggo – or rather, pair of doggos. Two adorable teacup yorkies that needed a good home. They were perfect! Tiny, cute, non-drooling and non-shedding. There was just one problem: they were a bonded pair. And neither BF or GF was willing to have TWO dogs. I argued that they were tiny – they hardly made up one dog between them! But GF especially was NOT having it. “Two is too many.”
I was desperately disappointed, and complained bitterly to my Dad on the phone that night.
Me: GF says no, she says two is too many.
Dad: Has she counted her kids recently?
Was this a nice thing to say? Nope. Was it funny? Hell yes.
Defeated, I gave up on my dream of being a dog owner. BF promised it would happen one day. He promised lots of things would happen one day. Funny how it was always my dreams being put on hold.
Regularly, after another of our interminable arguments, I’d talk wistfully to my friends about packing it all in, giving up on the relationship, and getting a little house and a dog. I never did; I was too invested in the relationship at this point, and putting other people before yourself is a hard habit to break.
The relationship lasted a few more years before my BF eventually decided that two girlfriends wasn’t enough and had an affair with an even younger woman; just 22 to his 38.
I was devastated by the breakup, but it took me less than 24 hours to see the silver lining:
I can get a dog now!
Within 4 weeks of moving into my new house, I collected my new best friend from a Charity shelter: a 3 legged Spanish rescue named Leo(1). He’s everything I ever dreamed of and more. Turns out I should have got that little house by myself years ago.
(1) My star sign, as it happens. Not that I believe in them.