This is to all the stepmoms out there who may be struggling: I am writing this for you to send out some positivity and hope.
It has been five years since I took on the responsibility of being a stepparent to then SD 10 and SD 12. To say it has been easy would be a lie. I went from a confident, happy, self-assured 39-year-old woman to someone who ended up questioning every decision I made with insecurity and self-doubt. There have been times that I felt like a prisoner in my own home feeling like every move, every argument between my husband and I, every word that I said was being passed back to their Mother (which in many cases, it was). Coupled with that, I have had troubling accusations that were far from the truth being said about me and in turn, have been accused of being abusive. I even started to doubt my instincts and considered that maybe I wasn’t fit for this role. If any of this sounds familiar look up triangulation which is a common stepfamily problem. Knowledge of this and a good therapist to teach you how to break the triangle is really helpful.
One of the most challenging things I have dealt with personally from stepparenting has been having a little one being threatened by my sole existence as a perpetrator trying to take her Father away from her. Not being able to have children of my own, this hit an old wound of mine deeply. All I ever wanted was a family to call my own and having my love rejected like this was painful. I began to feel isolated from other Moms (still do) while trying desperately to find my place and to fit in with my new life. Softball games, soccer games, pep rallies, school functions… all of it, with dismal results. I tried desperately while sacrificing my time to ensure the girls felt loved, guided and had a family unit that they could one day mimic for themselves in the future. Taking them to Dr appointments, cooking for them, shopping for them, decorating their rooms, cleaning up after them, picking them up from school, taking them to drivers ed and on and on. All things a parent does with minimal recognition coupled with a huge dose of criticism coming from different angles. Your life as a stepparent is under a constant microscope with invisible landmines that blow up unexpectedly with no road map to follow. No matter how much love you bring to the family, you are an immediate threat and the “evil stepmom” persona is a real thing. I have had periods of deep sorrow and pain while treading this path. I’ve made undignified attempts to be friends with their Mom believing it was what was best for them, acted out irrationally from my sorrow embarrassing myself on several occasions and have played the pity party more than I can count. Due to all this though, I have learned valuable lessons within the last five years. The most valuable one being empathy for my stepdaughters and my husband while recognizing that they too have had a difficult time. Knowing this has helped me become a stronger yet more sensitive person. I have learned selflessness by loving and nurturing children that are not my own which can be tricky when you join the game during halftime. I have had to learn how to check my temperamental moods on many occasions, take the high road when my ego said HELL NO, along with many other character-building lessons that I would have never learned if I had not chosen this role.
This is for you, stepmom reading this. It is true what they say about this gig. It will get better, with time. It is the only thing we have on our side and with it, the kiddos do come around. With time, patience and perseverance the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter. I can say today I finally feel at ease, confident and loved. That’s not to say it is perfect. Far from it. We still have our issues from time to time and feelings get hurt all the way around. We are a blended family after all. But with time, it has gotten easier.
Being a stepparent has helped me become a better version of myself for myself and more importantly for my family. I chose this role with my husband the day we said “I do” and had no idea what all of that entailed. I’ve grown from it though and continue to grow and that in itself is a blessing. I love my blended family who has added so much richness to my life and am infinitely grateful for them.
“We have made a choice to love another’s child as our own and THAT makes us a special kind of breed.”
Love and light and keep on keeping on. #stepmomstrong