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Jill Martin opens up about bumpy path to becoming a stepmother

When she says "I do," the TODAY lifestyle contributor will also become a parent to three stepchildren — and one has already put her to the test.
/ Source: TODAY

Everyone knows parenting isn't easy, but neither is stepparenting — and that's something TODAY lifestyle contributor Jill Martin has already learned firsthand even though she's not quite a stepmom yet.

She opened up about that emotional lesson on Friday during a chat on the 3rd hour of TODAY.

Martin recently became engaged to her partner of two years, Erik Brooks, and she recalled their first attempt at a family vacation with his three kids in tow.

"So we go on the first family trip and talk about bonding!" she said, noting that it was her fiance's 11-year-old daughter, Bella, who really took the "bonding" experience to the next level.

Erik Brooks with daughter Bella and his fiancee, TODAY lifestyle contributor Jill Martin.TODAY

"I get there and I unpack my things in the closet," Martin explained. "I went for lunch; I get back (and) by the door is my suitcase with everything beautifully packed — and she packed my stuff and was like, 'See ya!'"

At that point, the TODAY lifestyle contributor added that Bella is "smart. She's like a 40-year-old."

In other words, she knew exactly what she was doing.

"I was so upset, I was hysterical crying," Martin added. "And Erik said to her, 'How could you do this?' He said, 'Don't you want me to be happy?' And she said, 'Don't you want me to be happy?'"

While it marked a moment of high tension in the past, it was an important one for them to get past. Besides, it's something they laugh about now.

Bella and TODAY lifestyle contributor Jill Martin are pals these days.TODAY

"We're the best of friends now," she said of her relationship with the tween these days.

In fact, Bella gave Martin permission to share their story on the show.

Still, TODAY anchor Craig Melvin issued a playful word of warning: "I'm sure you think she's come around but I'd sleep with one eye open."

That earned a laugh from the stepmom-to-be who assured him that Bella — and her relationship with her — is "awesome."