Being a stepmom to adult children whose mother has died
A little less than a year ago, I became stepmom to three adult children. Their mother died almost four years ago from complications from treatment of lung cancer. It was very sudden in that she died just a couple of months after being diagnosed. It was unexpected in that they were actually beating the cancer. Her tumor was shrinking - which ultimately caused her death by tearing the chest wall. She bled to death internally. I didn't know her well but, I did know her and, having lost my own mother to ovarian cancer, I empathize with the pain her children have experienced.
I have tried to be understanding. I've tried my best to let the kids know that they are welcome to talk about her around me, and if they are comfortable doing so they can talk to me about her. Her picture is displayed in our home as are some of her possessions that my husband has chosen to keep. I know she will always be a presence in our lives. She and my husband were together for over 25 years. I don't expect that to just disappear.
This is my first marriage. I don't have any children (and can't have any). I want a good relationship with them. I know I can't be their mom, I can't take her place. I don't even want to try. It wouldn't be fair to them, their dad, her memory, or myself. But, I would like to be their friend.
Instead, I feel like they see me as a threat. A threat to her memory and to their relationship with their dad. There have been a couple of misunderstandings with them in the last few months. I've encouraged my husband to talk to them, without me around, and try to work things out with them. I try to give them time with him alone, and I try to spend time with him and them together.
I don't want to get into a lot of details at the moment. It would result in a quite lengthy post and I just don't have time right now. But, I would like to ask for any advice anyone has to share on how I can get through to these kids (the oldest is 35 and the youngest is 24). How do I help them see that I don't want anything more than to be their friend and find my own place in this family, and to make their dad as happy as he has made me?