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UNPOPULAR OPINION: 'I love my step-mum more than my real mum.'

Let me start off by acknowledging what anyone in a blended family knows all too well. Whichever way you look at it, being a ‘step-someone’ is really hard.

I can only imagine what it would have felt like for my mum, having to keep things civil while watching another woman walk into her children’s lives.

And for my step-mum, I’m sure getting an instant family complete with three, fully formed kids going through puberty wasn’t ideal either.

But for the kids who didn’t want any of it, that feeling of being caught in the middle never goes away.

When I was younger, I felt guilty about not loving the new woman who entered my dad’s life. Without my permission.

But now, well into my thirties, I feel guilty for loving her too much. Because if I’m really honest with myself, I’m far closer with my step-mum than I’ve ever felt with my real mum.

"Like a toxic merry-go-round we can't get off, it feels like my hands are always tied, my arms pulled in opposite directions until I rip down the middle." (Image: Getty)

It was never a case of being sat down and told to 'pick a side'. But to this day, with every decision I make, I'm choosing one or the other. Because in a blended family, there will always be two sides - my mum's or my step-mum's. And right now, I choose my step-mum.

She's the first person I go to when something wonderful happens in my life. When I met my now husband, I couldn't wait to pick up the phone and share the news with her. I didn't tell my mum for a month.

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When things in my life feel like they're going to sh*t, it's my step-mum's advice I treasure the most. It's always spot on and has never failed me - I trust her completely. When I talk to my mum, things feel worse than they were to begin with despite our best intentions.

My mum and I have never been on the same page. I've always been envious of people who say their mum is their best friend, because no matter how much either of us try to be what the other person needs, there's always friction.

When my parents divorced, this feeling of not fitting together only grew as we fought about whose house I would be staying at over the weekend and why I always wore the dress 'she' bought me for my birthday.

Yes, we've had a lot of great times together over the years. And yes, I appreciate my mum for the person she is completely. But on a day-to-day basis, we work better when we're apart.

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Our conversations are never smooth, neither of us really listen when the other speaks. And no matter the topic, things always circle back to my father and how much I'm like him, as if it's something to be ashamed of.

Like a toxic merry-go-round we can't get off, it feels like my hands are always tied, my arms pulled in opposite directions until I rip down the middle. And that guilt of being like my father - on 'their' side - is always there between us.

With my step-mum, it's easy. That's not to say it wasn't tough at times growing up, but we've hit our stride. I couldn't imagine life without her.

Underpinning all of this, I know I'm incredibly lucky to have two amazing and very different women in my life who love me unconditionally. And I know, with all its faults, my relationship with my mum is in a better place than a lot of mums and daughters out there.

But while I love both of them immensely, I just can't shake the feeling I love the wrong one more.

Do you struggle with your relationship with your step parents or children? What challenges do you face?

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