It’s hard to describe how it felt to meet my step children for the first time but I remember feeling incredibly nervous.
I’d dressed more carefully that day. My little brother was dragged along for moral support and also as a way to break the ice if needed.
I opened the door and there they were.
Before me stood two cute little boys aged 12 and 8, both of whom resembled their dad. The oldest was open and friendly and gave me a warm greeting before joining my brother who was playing one of those console games. The younger one was clinging to his father’s leg and refused to leave his side.
It felt surreal seeing my boyfriend in them so vividly and straight away I felt a rush of emotion for them both. I wanted them to like me. I looked forward to seeing them again.
It didn't help that step mothers are normally portrayed as evil villains.
What followed was four years of struggle during which my relationship became more and more serious and the boys tried to cope with the fact that I would be in their lives for good and their father would never be with their mother again.
I tried so hard to help them but I was young and didn't understand what they were going through. I didn't have kids of my own so I didn't realise how powerful and all-consuming a parent's love is for their child, that is until five years into the relationship when I had a baby of my own.
As I gazed at my child's incredible face I thought, "Oh, I get it now. Wow." It took my breath away.
That's when my real relationship with my step sons began.
Being a blended family is hard and it doesn't do anyone any favours to try and pretend like it is going to be smooth sailing, feeling as though I have to love my stepchildren in exactly the same way as I love my biological child. That's just not realistic for them or for me.