A few weeks ago, a fellow stepmom said to me, “you make things appear so easy on your end”.
They key word in that sentence is “appear”
But, we all know that things are not always as they appear.
It’s true for so many things these days.
Not just step-parenting, but parenting in general.
I often find myself scrolling through my social media feed looking at other mother's pictures and think, "man they really have it all together”.
But I quickly snap out of it and remind myself that we all are fighting some kind of battle, and it’s really easy to snap a picture of a blissful moment and blast it on social media. People don't typically take pictures of the not so pretty aspects of real life. Behind the scenes, whether we are parents, step-parents or whatever, life is never all hearts and sparkles.
One thing this comment did do, was inspire me to open up about how difficult things were for me at the beginning.
It also inspired me to tell you why I didn’t tell a soul how much I was really struggling.
If you’ve been following along, you know that my husband and I are 13 years apart.
And we fell in love VERY accidentally, just a few months after he and his ex-wife officially went their separate ways.
He never anticipated he would move on so quickly, and I certainly didn’t anticipate falling in love with a man with three kids. But it happened! And as tricky was it was, we were so excited to have found each other.
However, with a recent divorce and a man moving on with a motherless “girl” 13 years his junior, came a lot of assumptions, judgement and some pretty strong opinions.
“Young girl phase”
“Does she know anything about being a parent?”
“Does she realize what she’s getting herself into?”
“Let her play house for a while, surely this won’t last!”
I even got wind that a close family member said "sure it's all fun now, but what happens when she has to be up in the middle of the night looking after a puking kid?"
It was as if people thought that I was naive enough to think that this step-parenting gig was going to be all fun and games. And come on, it doesn’t take a parenting expert to know that kids puke from time to time!
On the outside, it looked like I these comments didn't phase me, but on the inside I felt like I was being punched in the stomach over and over again. Many of the people I was closest to were doubting me. They were waiting for me to fail. Waiting for this to crumble.
It was such an awful feeling.
But I knew it wasn’t going to crumble. I knew that anything worth while comes with a bit of a struggle. And that as long as we were happy, it didn’t matter what other people said.
But on those days when I was completely overwhelmed with parenting, dealing with the issues that can and do come with blended family life… the adjustment periods, the discomfort and awkwardness I felt from living what felt like another woman’s home… I felt like I had no one.
Because if I told anyone in my “support system” that I was struggling, they would be right. I was failing.
I kept a smile on my face, and pretended I had everything under control. But some days, on the inside I was screaming!!
A few years in, it’s a whole different story.
I’ve learned to cope.
I’ve opened up and made the commitment to keep it real when it comes to stepfamily challenges.
I now communicate with my husband, and tell him how HARD step-parenting actually is
I feel like I’m being punched in the stomach less and less.
I’ve done a lot of work.
If, like the stepmom I referred to above, you were also under the impression that things are easy over here, first I want to say thank-you, because that tells me that my acting skills from day one have been pretty damn good.
But it’s not easy. Nothing about step-parenting (OR parenting for that matter) is easy. There are ebbs and flows, good times and bad times, and as our family dynamic evolves, new challenges arise.
But like I said… in life, anything worth while requires a little bit of elbow grease!
So ladies, here’s the deal with those early days of being a stepmom. People love to have opinions about the dissolve of a marriage and a new relationship. People love a potential scandal and love to have an opinion about what is going on in other people’s lives. It’s just the way it is.
There are assumptions, and judgements, and truthfully for the most part blending a family is something that people don’t want to talk about. In the end, you can be left feeling overwhelmed and alone.
But even thought you feel like you're alone, you're not! Writing this blog and building this community of stepmoms has showed me that!
So if any of what I have written about resonates with you, you’re in the right place. There is support, there is something that you can do, there is someone who understands.
Check out my Stepmom Support + Coaching Page or sign up for my Email List and get Stepmom Support sent right to your inbox... because you don't have to feel the way you've been feeling! You really don't!