I've made it no secret that when I first found myself deep in the trenches of step-parenting, I was disappointed with the lack of positive stepmom bloggers out there.
For the most part, I found myself stumbling upon stepmoms who were doing a great job at fulfilling that bogus stereotype of the "evil stepmom" that many of us are doing our very best to quash!
The good news is that as my community of positive, likeminded stepmoms continues to grow, I've had the pleasure of becoming virtual friends with some pretty KICK-ASS Stepmoms.
Ones who actually LIKE their stepkids.
Ones who actually LIKE being a stepmom.
Ones who realize that this stepfamily life isn't so bad if you're prepared to do a bit of work!
I've decided to not keep these Stepmoms all to myself any longer. Starting NOW I am going to be featuring one KICK-ASS Stepmom on my blog the first week of every month!
This week, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Gina Watson of How to Stepmom. I had the pleasure of getting to know Gina during the first round of The KICK-ASS Stepmom Project.
Gina's story is VERY unique!! I often think that moving from the city to our Hamlet was a big transition for me, but this girl up and moved her whole life from the Netherlands to be with her now husband and his two stepsons! Can you say culture shock?!
You can read more about Gina over on her blog How to Stepmom (Which by the way, her stepsons named.)
I love her story & I love her vibe... and I know that you will too! In fact, sometimes when I am reading Gina's posts, I feel like I am reading my own (minus the whole moving from the Netherlands thing)
Tell me about your family.
We are a beautiful (if I may say so myself) family of 4. My husband, Matthew, works abroad on a 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off rotation. My stepsons are 11 and 9.
I have a full household for 4 weeks and then return to a empty house the next 4.
How long have you been with your husband?
5 years (Thank you Facebook reminders!). Married for 2 and a bit
What is your access schedule?
50/50. When Matthew is home so are my stepkids.
How is your relationship with your husband’s ex-wife?
It is great. I find it hard to write this or talk about it. It’s not the norm and people are usually very surprised when I say this. We are very amicable with each other. The occasional wine night is not uncommon.
I still leave the serious discussions for my husband to deal with! It’s a boundary I feel most comfortable with as I truly believe the mom and dad should be discussing all things kids related.
What is the most difficult thing about being a Stepmom?
Finding those boundaries that work for you and navigating the complexities of being a stepmom. The dynamics are very interesting and not something I ever thought I would be dealing with. There are so many different people, emotions and dynamics to consider for most step- or blended families. And everything is constantly changing!
What is the most rewarding thing about being a Stepmom?
The small moments are! When you realize your efforts are paying off and your stepkids respect and view you as a parent and not just dad’s new girlfriend or wife.
Once, my oldest stepson said in a conversation with his brother, "but we have to listen to our parents" (referring to ALL 4 parents!).
This happened during a recent Wal-Mart trip. We were on a time crunch and my youngest stepson wanted to visit the cookie section. I said no because we really didn’t have time to walk to the other end of the store. It was an in and out kind of situation. Of course, he was not super stoked about my answer and was hoping for a change. That's when I overheard his brother telling him he can't ask daddy after the other parent already said no.
For a split second, a got my back up and quickly calmed myself down. It's just kids being kids after all.
Or when I get home after bedtime and my husband says to me: ‘can you wake up the youngest kid? He asked to be woken when you got home so he can say goodnight.’
Or just when they say I love you for the first time.
What's one of the biggest mistakes you've made as a Stepmom?
Thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. How young and naïve I was...
If your best friend told you she was about to start dating a man with kids, what would you tell her?
I would tell her to sit down with her partner and have a serious conversation about their expectations. Ask him was his days look like with the kids, what the relationship is like with his ex, how they discipline the kids and what his financial obligations are. It's important to try and get some kind of full picture of what you’re getting yourself into and what his life is like when you’re not around.
What do you wish you would have known before you became a Stepmom?
I wish I knew about the complexities of being a stepmom. There are so many factors, people and feelings to consider. It gets hard at times but it's so worth it.
How do you think Stepmoms are viewed in Society?
Not the way they should be! The evil stepmom references are all over the place.
I strongly feel that society doesn’t think of stepmoms as equals nor do we have the right to feel certain ways or express how we’re feeling. Stepmoms are put on the backburner. We are forgotten about because the divorce is hard on mom, dad, the kids and close family. I’m not saying it’s not, or minimizing what they have been through. But stepmoms will go through hard times as well and we need to make sure we don't forget to put ourselves first every once in a while.
What’s one thing you couldn’t survive without?
Bedtime, alone time, and wine. It’s a packaged deal.
Tell us about your most awkward moment as a Stepmom.
That time when you are in the grocery store and your stepkids run into their old principal. She is happy to see your stepkids, gives them a big hug and asks how their summer is going. Then she turns to you, gives a look and says to your stepkids ‘I see you boys are out with your babysitter today’.
Yup, that happened to me! I haven’t felt this awkward ever in my role as a stepmom before. Yes, I’m young and my husband is 12 years older. I get where this came from. But she definitely apologized fast when I corrected her and the kids and I had a good laugh about her comment afterward.
What inspired you to start your business/blog?
2.5 years into my stepmom journey I started looking into online support groups. I knew by then that none of my friends could really relate, even knowing they do try very hard. I struggled to find something fitting and remember spending hours on a forum shocked by the negativity and absolute terrible things some stepmoms said about their stepkids and their mother. I felt defeated, thinking that there must not be any kind of support for a stepmom like me. Someone who doesn’t want to complain about her stepkids or their mom. Someone who wants positive support and a group of woman who understand that sometimes it get hard.
This inspired me to start my blog and reach out to stepmoms (and stepmoms who moved to another country to become one, like me!), hoping that one day I can help new or long time stepmoms navigate their stepmom life through my story and future coaching services
What's your favorite quote?
Be selective with all your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right.