If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently got hitched! I’m an official step-mom now and it’s been different than I thought it would be - in good ways and some not so good ways.
I have always been someone who has wanted to have children - to be a mother. I didn’t ever think that I would end up as a step-mom. But here I am and I’m not an expert. I follow some pretty incredible woman on social media who have been at this a lot longer than me but I wanted to share my perspective as someone who’s been an official stepmom for just about a month.
It’s Okay to Feel Overwhelmed
I love my step kids and they have brought my life so much joy but my life is so different now. Gone are the lazy quiet mornings of watching The Office while I worked on my book. Now, if I want alone time, I need to get up before the sun and tip-toe around the house.
My days off are filled with cooking, shopping, feeding the kids and my husband and trying to fill our days with fun. It has been hard to adjust to such a change in my free time and my ability to do things for myself. There’s been a couple times where I’ve had to hole up in my bedroom for an hour just to de-compress. To let myself relax and that’s okay. It’s a big life change and it’s going to take some time to adjust.
Find Yourself A Support Network
I felt kind of silly when I googled “Stepmom support groups” but it has been a huge help to just read other people’s experiences and perspectives.
Step-momming is hard.
It is a challenge unlike any other to make the effort to love your step-kids like they are your own and to maybe not receive that love back. But we do it anyway but that’s what we’re here for. My relationship with my step-daughter is very different from my relationship with my step-son and that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes it doesn’t hurt my heart to feel more distant from this little boy that I adore. So it’s been crucial for me to hear other step-moms experiences, good and bad, and to hear their words of encouragement.
Try to Let Things Roll Off of Your Shoulders
This may not apply to every situation but being a step-mom comes with dealing with an ex and that isn’t always easy. I’ve really had to learn to let go of hurtful words and dramatic situations. I think this is a hard thing for most people because we’re human. We care what people think about us and we care what’s being said about us. But I don’t have control over another person and the way they choose to think. That’s been a challenge for me. When I’m having an especially hard time with this - I pray for strength and comfort. I’m a very anxious person and once it starts, it’s hard to stop the feelings that come with that. So this is something that I’m sure I will work on for years to come.
Kids Are Kids
Kids say things sometimes without thinking and sometimes they speak the honest truth. I’ve spent a lot of time around kids in my life and have experienced instances of this but it’s different when it’s coming from a little mouth that you love with all your heart. But I try to remember how I felt when I was in their shoes. I was older when my parents got divorced but I remember the emotions and all the changes that came with it. It’s hard to understand something so adult when you’re so young.
The only time that my step-daughter told me she hated me (after I asked her to put her shoes away), I felt the impact through my whole body. I was so upset and I felt like I had failed. I felt like the worst parent ever and had to fight back tears. But when I told my now-husband about it, he said, “Well, it looks like you’re in.” And I was taken aback. I wasn’t a failure as a parent, I was a parent. How many times had I said similar things to my parents growing up? I look back on this moment and can laugh and tell jokes about it because it feels like a milestone. Not a moment of shame. But a moment I can point to and say, “That’s when this step-mom thing really got started.”
It’s Not About You
I love my step-mom and she has been such a rock as I’ve become a step-mom myself. When she and my Dad got married, she had three children of her own - so she had that parenting experience that I lack but we didn’t make it easy on her. Six teenagers all in one house with lots of emotions? Yikes. I’m happy to say that my siblings and I get along much better now. But I’ve talked to her a lot about my situation, things that have happened with the kids and things that have happened with my husband’s ex.
There was one thing that she said to me that has always stuck out.
“It’s not about you.”
It put it all into perspective for me. What I’m doing isn’t about me, it’s about the two little kids that my husband brought into my life. It is about them and making sure that they feel safe, happy and supported. Regardless of the drama, hurt feelings or whatever I’m struggling with that day - it’s about them. I try to remember that when I’m feeling close to the edge. Those kids need me to be me and to be there for them in whatever way I can.
One month down and years and years of lessons to go!