First of all, I want to thank you. When I wrote this Instagram post, I really only anticipated receiving comments from other Stepmoms who feel the same way about their stepchildren.
Your comment, accusing me of trying to replace their mother, was a wonderful reminder of why I have chosen to be so open about life as a stepmom in the first place. It's to debunk the b*llshit stereotypes that go hand-in-hand with the comment you left. Specifically that stepmoms who treat their stepchildren the same as they treat their own children, are on a mission to try and replace the “real mom”
I often says that when you're a stepmom you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't... and your comment reinforced that.
Here's the deal. When I decided to commit myself to my husband, I committed myself to loving his three children as well. They were a package deal, no matter what. I have unconditional love for him and I have unconditional love for them. They are my family.
Saying that out loud doesn't mean that I am trying to devalue the relationship they have with their mom, trying to step on her toes, or how did you put it again? ... “make these children mine".
In fact, having an involved stepmom who loves them to the moon and back doesn't have anything to do with their relationship with their mom at all. That relationship is still as important and strong as ever. It only means that they get to have an extra adult in their life who loves them and looks out for their wellbeing. Why is that such a bad thing?
You asked me to think about how hard it would be to have another woman looking after my kid every-other-week or every-other-weekend. I agree with you. I think it would be extremely hard.
But as an adult I am confident that I would look at the bigger picture and accept that this is the reality that comes with a divorce or separation. In fact, if I were in this scenario, I would pray god that my daughter's stepmom would love her and treat her the same as she would her own children, whether she was a “real mom” or not.
Not only because I am adult and believe in putting the best interests of my child ahead of my own insecurities, but because I am a child of divorce myself, and I know first hand how upsetting it can be to be treated second rate to a stepmom’s “own” child. Trust me, it's a great way to set up a child to be resentful of their blended family situation.
Despite how gut wrenching it would be for another woman to have “special moments” with my child, knowing that my child is loved, cared for, and feeling secure would by far outweigh the importance of knowing that I was doing 100% of the “Mom Jobs”
I question, when those “Mom Jobs” arise, e.g. needing new shoes, celebrating holidays and traditions, getting supplies for an upcoming school project, should I say “No sorry honey, we can’t do that, you’ll have to wait until you’re with your Mom. I don’t want to step on her toes” and carry on and do those things with my own daughter?
When my daughter, my husband and I are taking a picture, should I tell my stepchildren to step aside because they aren’t really mine?
No. You see, because amongst all the crappy things that go hand-in-hand with having divorced parents, come a few good things. One of them being you get more family! More people who have your back. More people who can together, shape you into a successful, respectful, well-rounded adult.
Not to mention, you get to celebrate many traditions twice!
There is a lot of talk about how damaging a divorce can be to a child, when in reality it’s not necessarily the divorce itself that leaves long lasting affects. It’s how the adults in the child’s life choose to carry on after the fact.
Society’s assumption that there needs to be a turf war between the stepmom and the ex-wife is damaging in so many ways.
Children are NOT possessions. They are little impressionable people with a strong urge to please, to belong and to be loved. Their loyalty to one parent should never affect their loyalty to another. In fact, when I first became a stepmom, I was told “when I’m not around, you’re the next best thing”. I’ve taken that very seriously.
I once saw a post online that said,
"What do you want your children to
remember about their childhood?
I've thought about this question ever since.
I want my stepchildren to look back on their childhood and say,
“yeah it sucked that my parents split up, but I had two great families. My parents and step-parents all worked together make sure I had an amazing childhood”
“Oh goodness, growing up my mom and stepmom hated each other so much. It was so awkward.”
“I hated going to my Dad’s house. His wife did so many great things with her kid, and barely anything for me. I felt so left out.”
A while back, I went to wine with my husband’s ex-wife. A few weeks later, she, her partner and her parents came to our place to have pictures taken before my stepdaughter’s graduation. When I mentioned this to some people in my social circle, their response was “Really, that’s so weird”
The fact that “Really, that’s so weird” is the typical response when ex-spouses and step-parents can all get along is pretty damn sad.
The fact that it’s seen as abnormal? Even sadder.
With that, when I treat my stepchildren as if they are my own, am I trying to replace their mom? Heck no. She is their Mom, I am their Stepmom. There is room for us both.
So the next time you see a stepmom show their love for their stepchildren, instead of thinking, “their poor mom” why not think “wow those children sure are lucky”.
DISCLAIMER: I anticipate some backlash to this post. I anticipate that those who are not able to have an amicable and positive co-parenting relationship with the ex will respond ‘well that’s nice for you, but it’s not possible for us”. And you’re right, it’s not possible for everyone.
In fact, people may disagree with everything I’ve said. That’s totally okay!
Every family is different, and every blended family has a different dynamic. What I am trying to show is that there are blended families out there with stepmoms who adore the kids and do think of them as part of their family. Doing so doesn’t mean they are trying to take over. It means they are trying to show someone that they love them! They shouldn’t be scrutinized for that.
Remember, you cannot control how someone else acts. At the end of the day, all you can do is control your own actions, continue to look at the big picture and be a positive role model for the little people in your life.
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