Confessions of a Stepmom
There are days that I absolutely love being a step-mom…and then there are days like today that are, well, let’s just say ‘challenging.’
When I decided to start a blog, I made a choice to not just write about all the good days, but to also write about the bad ones, too. I think it’s silly to make people believe that every day is rosy; that is not real life. So, here is a topic that is near and dear to me and somewhat difficult to write about: Step-motherhood.
First of all, nobody grows up thinking, “I can’t wait to meet Prince Charming, become a stepmom and have fun-filled moments with his ex-wife.” That is hardly the Disney fairytale I grew up with, but I was not going to give up on the love of my life for having a child and an ex-wife.
I often thought the modern day fairytale went something like this: You can grow up and marry someone, like Demi Moore did, and have the awesome relationship and co-parenting skills that she and Bruce seem to have. REALITY CHECK: Good for them, but sadly that did not happen in our case, and if it does someday, I will be shocked given our past history.
My modern day fairytale of co-parenting: I love my stepson with all my heart, but we often ride this emotional roller-coaster filled with highs and lows. Right when I think we are moving forward and growing a stronger bond, the next day (or next moment), his attitude goes sour and I am left feeling hopeless.
Everyone keeps telling me he will grow out of it and he will get past his parent’s divorce, but that does not help me in the present day. For example, we had an AMAZING time as a family last night. I thought I would do something nice for him the next morning by allowing him to sleep in an extra hour since I go to work later and can take him to daycare.
Normally, he is very pumped and excited to have me take him to daycare. Today, that was not the case. “Why isn’t my Dad taking me?” was how my day started, and it totally killed any morning sunshine in the car for the remaining twenty minutes. I simply said, “I am sorry to disappoint you, but I thought I would take you to save you and your Dad from getting up at the crack of dawn.”
Thank goodness for large sunglasses because surprisingly I started to tear up, but held it together and held my ground by not letting his mood affect me. He got out of the car and did not smile at me like he normally does. OUCH! A good deed gone wrong and maybe I was taking it too personally, being too sensitive.
The question that I ask is, “Are these extreme high and low behaviors typical of a soon-to-be pre-teen or the behavior of a boy who is still dealing with his parents not together, even after several years?”
Those who know me know that I feel guilty all the time, even over things that I don’t need to feel guilt about. If I could take his pain away I would, but I know I have absolutely no power when it comes to this. His main influence is his mom, and I believe only when she can embrace this new chapter will he be the happy boy that I knew pre-engagement.
Being a stepmom can be difficult because sometimes you feel like you are making progress only to realize that you are not, and then you feel hopeless. The person who gets caught in the stress is my husband. He works hard to please us and fix our issues, which is damn near impossible.
I am hopeful that our family will get stronger and move past this phase. I know that my stepson struggles and gets sad, which is normal for kids of divorce, but sometimes I feel that he should be further in his progress than he is. I am not a therapist, so what do I know?
I am not writing this for people to feel sorry for me or to think, “You knew what you were getting into…” I did know what I was signing up for and I would not trade it for the world, but that does not mean that I don’t get to vent about it every now and then.
I feel that I am a great stepmom because I am very supportive of his mother in front of him, have never claimed or tried to be his mother, and do care and love him like he is my own. There are times – like last night – when I tuck him into bed and get a big hug that remind me that kids are a crazy roller-coaster ride; they give you tons of love and frustration, regardless if they are your own children, your nephew, or friend’s kids, etc.
I am going to keep trying to be the best stepmom I can be, and in time, I know it will get better with an open mind and an open heart. There is a quote that I remind myself of when the bad times come, “Nobody said it would be easy, just that it would be worth it.”
Thank you for letting me share.
Michelle Hancock is a Children’s Recreation Coordinator, newlywed, stepmom, and new puppy owner who is finding ways to balance friends, family, and writing for her blog, Mind of Meesh.