Megan Fox and Liz Hurley have both taken on their partner’s kids. So what’s it like to be the other mother? Flic Everett and her stepdaughter tell all.
‘I thought I’d be dumped if she didn’t like me’
Flic, 41, is an author and lives in Sale, Manchester, with her husband Simon Buckley, 46. She says: “It’s hard to believe that meeting an eight-year-old girl could fill you with more fear than a job interview. But believe me, when that eight year old is the daughter of your new boyfriend, it can.
I was only 26 when I met Mimi for the first time. It was a few weeks into my relationship with her dad, Simon. I already had a son, Wolfie, then five, but I knew nothing about little girls and I was sure she’d see me as a Disney-style wicked stepmother, out to steal her dad.
When Simon and his ex-wife broke up the previous year, Mimi was so close to her dad that she chose to live with him. They were practically joined at the hip, so I had a couple of sleepless nights, worrying about what would happen if she didn’t like me.
Walking into Café Rouge to meet her for the first time, I was a bag of nerves. I had no idea what to talk about, and was convinced she’d hate me, even though I was introduced as her dad’s friend rather than a girlfriend. But she was small, pretty and very chatty. We shared a plate of chips and discussed the Spice Girls and pink heels.
“She liked you,” Simon promised me afterwards.
Three’s a crowd?
But a few weeks later, when Mimi realised I was in fact her dad’s girlfriend, it was obvious she thought I was auditioning to be some sort of mother replacement (I wasn’t). She made her feelings about that pretty clear.
Simon tried valiantly to include me in her life. We went on days out together to the zoo and shopping. But you know what they say: ‘three’s a crowd’. In this particular scenario it was me who was the outsider.
She would never be directly rude, but she’d show her disapproval – sometimes I’d be holding hands with Simon and she’d break us apart, and grab his hand from me.
I didn’t say anything. I told myself she was just insecure and would gradually grow to accept me.
And like most new stepmums, I did my best to win her over. I would always comment on whatever dress she was wearing or would buy her little girlie gifts, such as sparkly hair clips. On the odd occasion that I confessed to Simon I worried I wasn’t doing a good enough job, he’d assure me it was a marathon, not a sprint.
I knew he was right. I had to be patient, but there were nights when I’d wake worried I’d never get it right.
When we had family days out I’d sometimes bring Wolfie. Fortunately, he and Mimi got on well, despite having different personalities. Thankfully, Simon and I had a lot of adult time together too, where I could give him a hug or kiss without hearing the usual groan from Mimi in the background.
In truth, Mimi was a funny, charming girl most of the time and I couldn’t help but grow to love her, and gradually she started to thaw. But we were still sometimes at loggerheads, especially when she and Simon moved into my little flat in Sale, Manchester, a year after we started dating. They’d been living with Simon’s mum Diana in Bolton, Lancashire, and this was the next step for us all.
It meant we had to take Mimi out of her school and away from her best friends. She wasn’t happy. I could understand why, so we tried to make things nice for her.
Simon and I didn’t help ourselves by getting engaged on a romantic trip to Paris six months after he moved in.
Mimi was staying with Simon’s mum at the time. We rang to share our news.
‘Don’t tell Mimi yet…’ he began, just as his mum shrieked: ‘You’re engaged!’ down the line. Mimi overheard the news, and burst into tears.
‘I don’t want you to get married!’ she sobbed down the phone to Simon.
I knew she was worried she’d be less important to her dad, so when we got back from Paris, I went to speak to her alone.
‘I know you didn’t ask for this, but I love your dad, and we want to be together,’ I explained.
I was terrified she’d shout: ‘I hate you,’ but she took my hand, and said: ‘OK. I’ll try to be nicer,’ and then we both cried.
Mimi has always worn her heart on her sleeve, but to her credit (and my relief), she’s never once screamed: ‘You’re not my mother!’
Perhaps that’s because Simon did most of the disciplining when she misbehaved. I was scared that if I ever let my anger show, she’d think I didn’t love her.
Sometimes I wanted to yell at him for being too soft, but I tried to bite my tongue.
Most of the time, though, we were a normal family. Mimi was never secretive or cruel. We talked about most things – like when she told me about one horrible week when she was bullied at school and I hugged her protectively.
Mimi’s teenage years were a whirl of sleepovers, boys and friends trooping through the house.
Remembering my own teen battles, I was quite liberal with her. She began to confide in me about boys, as she knew I wouldn’t act like an overprotective parent.
But sometimes we did have harsh words. Like when Mimi let her friend steal a bottle of expensive wine from us when she was 14. I had to let her know she’d crossed a line. Apart from being too young to drink, she needed to understand that she couldn’t just allow her friend to take someone else’s property. Luckily, neither of us held a grudge.
We battled through those teenage years until she left our home at the tender age of 16 to move in with her boyfriend. It was nothing to do with me, she has always assured me, she’s just always been an independent kind of girl.
She never looked back and now Mimi’s a kind, clever, funny person, with loyal friends and big plans. I still try not to be too parental with her and would say we are now good friends. And that’s a lovely place for us to be.”
‘When Dad got engaged, I hated it’
Mimi Buckley, 23, is a trainee teacher and lives in Sale, Manchester. She says: “The first time I met Flic, Dad introduced her as a ‘friend’ and all I could think was how glam she was with her zebra-print coat.
A few weeks later, Dad asked how I’d feel if she became his girlfriend, adding that nothing would change between us.
‘Great,’ I said, imagining all the shopping trips I’d go on with this exotic woman. But I was only eight, and had no idea how much our lives would change.
I’d always been a daddy’s girl, and when he and Mum split I couldn’t bear the thought of not living with him.
I knew Dad felt the same, so it never occurred to me I wouldn’t be his number-one priority. And, at first, nothing did change that much.
Dad would mostly meet Flic when I was in bed. Sometimes he included her on outings, but we still had our time together, just Dad and me, so it wasn’t so bad. Then a year after they met, he announced we’d be moving in with her and her son Wolfie, who I’d only met a few times.
It felt like my world was being turned upside down. Just a week later, we’d moved into Flic’s flat, 20 miles away from my Nana Diana, my school and all my friends.
I was devastated and laid the blame squarely at Flic’s feet.
I found it really hard to adjust to our new lives and I was missing all my old friends.
Sharing a small space, we all began to feel the pressure. Flic and I would disagree over little things, such as leaving lights on in empty rooms. If I ever rowed with Dad, Flic would tell me to stop being rude. I’d snap back, saying she had no right to interfere.
Wolfie and I did get on well though. We’ll never have the closeness that blood siblings have, but as we learnt to just bob along together in the house, he quickly became like my little brother.
When I first heard Dad and Flic were engaged, I hated it. But eventually I realised he deserved to be happy. In fact, it helped us settle into a routine as stepmum and daughter – albeit a frosty one at times. But she was always there with a hug if I needed one.
She’d turn up at the school gates with pink trousers and, although I’d pretend to be embarrassed, I was pleased someone so cool was picking me up.
When my teen years hit, our relationship deteriorated. I got suspended from school for drinking and would leave my room in a tip, but as Flic wasn’t my real mum, she didn’t know how to discipline me – and I took advantage. I remember my friend taking the wine. Flic went spare, telling me I was selfish. I called her a stupid cow and was grounded for three weeks.
Most of the time, Dad just left us to get over our spats, but this time he knew it was serious so he sat us down together to talk and we both apologised.
Although we did try to get on, the atmosphere was never completely relaxed at home until I moved in with my then boyfriend at 16. I wanted to be grown up and have my own space.
I’d visit every Sunday for dinner, and Flic and I became more comfortable with each other, chatting and actually listening to what the other was saying.
These days we have a really good relationship, and go out for family dinners and shopping trips. Flic has made a big contribution to my life and I still confide in her about lots of things.
And now Wolfie’s 19, we go to the pub together.
Although Flic’s been a form of mum to me, I’d never call her my stepmother. It’s really hard to explain our relationship, but I’m sure there are stepmums and daughters out there who know exactly how we feel. At the end of the day, she’s just Flic to me – and that’s why I love her.”
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