I am proudly a stepmom and have been, officially, for five years.
Someone once told me that being a stepmom is one of the hardest jobs. I truly didn’t understand that until I became one. Luckily for me, we have a very cohesive, blended family. We have joint custody. and the kids spend 50% of their time with us. It’s very equal, the kids’ parents get along very well, communicate every day and keep the kids first. Even with that, it’s still a hard role to have.
The biggest problem with being a stepmom is that there is no “magic trick” on how to be a good one. Every single situation, person, and relationship is going to be different. And that, my stepmom friends, is the most important thing that I want to tell you today.
You must find something that works for you, your family and the situation.
There are a lot of shared-custody stories out there that are not good, and some that are better than ours. With all the emotion and history involved, don’t let escalated drama, anger and frustration surprise you. As a step-parent, sometimes you get stuck in the middle, or blamed for something that may not be your fault. You feel protective of your loved ones, or frustrated with things that impact your life, but over which you have no control. All of these things, plus so much more, make it a very difficult role. It’s almost always impossible to know if you are even doing a good job.
Here are some things that I think every step-parent should do.
- Sit down with your partner and discuss expectations for your role as a step-parent. You may be expected to be the sole caretaker, or you may just need to be a friend to the kids. This depends on each situation, age, stage, years together, etc. How can you possibly succeed at something if you don’t know the expectations of your role?
- This is a full time gig for the rest of your life. If you aren’t into it, don’t sign up for this situation. Second marriages are extremely difficult when kids are involved. There are complex issues impacting real live humans, and a lot of them at that. It’s not going to be easy. Don’t feed into the stereotype of the “wicked stepmother” by being a bully. In the end it will only hurt your partner & you.
- Don’t have high expectations. Being a parent is challenging, but those hugs before bed and “I Love Yous” that show their unconditional love for you make up for all the crap you have to deal with. As a stepmom, A LOT of times you don’t get that unconditional love or you might also feel like an outsider. Your family might forget Mother’s Day or your birthday. You constantly give time and usually don’t receive anything back, or nobody wants to sit by you at dinner. Stay true to your values, continue putting the kids first and one day it will pay off.
- Find support. Talk to your friends, other mommies, or other step-parents to figure out how to handle the situations you are struggling with. I haven’t had much success with books, but there is a ton of external information available. Find something that aligns with your belief and values.
- This isn’t about you, it’s about the kids. Enough said. Don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself. Find a solution and move forward.
Stepmoms, you aren’t alone.
If you can find out what is important to you, maybe you can go to bed at the end of the day feeling like you were successful. You are not alone and sometimes, just hearing you are supported is all you need to get through another tough day. Stepmoms, Unite!
Have other tips for stepmoms? Leave a comment below!
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