Step-Parent Series: Still Navigating

Becoming a step-parent can be fulfilling and rewarding but with that also comes with bumps in the road.  In this interview, our step-parent gives us some insights to what she has felt and gone through, while navigating as a step-mom.  Read what she has to say below.  

How old are you? 

33 years old

How long have you been married? How long have you been a stepmom?  

3 years married and 8 years as a Step-mom.

You said you are married for 3 years but a stepmom for 8 years, can you elaborate on that?

My husband and I have been together for 9 years. I’ve been part of my step children’s lives since we started dating. 

What did your family think/say about marrying someone who had children already? 

My mom is also a stepmother, she told me that she would rather me date someone "stupid with no kids" than someone with kids.  

What was your response to your mom and how did you feel about what your Mom said?

Having never dated a man with children, I thought she was just being judgmental. But now when I look back on it, she was saying it out of love and experience. She knew what it was like to be second, to be part of a puzzle that wasn’t the beginning piece. In her mind, a man that was “ruam” would at least love you first, put you before anything else but a man with children would always love his children first. In some sense, she is not wrong. 

When were you introduced to your step children? 

About a month, after I started dating my would be husband.

What were your feelings when you met your step children?

They were young and I knew they would like me because most kids do. I love children and I was excited but still nervous.

What were your initial feelings about becoming a step Mom? 

At first it seemed natural and seamless, but then as our lives changed, roles and responsibilities changed as well. I began to realize that I wasn't a mom. I felt like I was a glorified nanny, like someone who had the duties to care for my husband and his ex wife's children but no authority over the children. Even though I did just as much and sometimes more than I needed to. I felt like I wasn't on the same stage. 

What are your feelings now? 

Over the years, as my step children have gotten older, I've learned to let go of the mother-child reciprocity relationship. It has made me happier for myself, instead of struggling to place myself in a different family dynamic.

What is your relationship like with your step children in the beginning and now?

In the beginning, my step children were shared between their biological mother and their father. Part-time parenting was nice and it gave my husband and I a break from being parents. When the children would return home, it was always a loving and fun relationship. We felt that we needed to buffer them from the week at their mother's, as our households were very opposite of each other. Now, we have full custody of our children and it's been about 5 years of that. As they have gotten older, it is a more difficult relationship. It isn't as much about fun and sweet moments and more so about rules and family responsibilities. I often feel like an "evil stepmother" because I'm the one that regulates and creates rules accordingly as they grow older. My husband is more lax about rules.

Do you have a relationship with their biological mom?

No. I tried to be civil at first, but many things turned sour. I don't think she liked having another woman raising her children, let alone someone that her children actually loved. I think that would be hard for me as well.

How did your husband introduce you to his children’s biological Mom?  How did you feel when you met her?

We were never formally introduced, as their marriage ended on several bad notes. They were barely civil themselves and I didn’t want to get involved in interactions that would seem like I was overstepping into her boundaries. Being in any proximity to her made me feel very uncomfortable. I just felt a cloud of animosity and tension. She never talked to me but rather through her children to me. I made the initial step to welcome her to text or call me if she needed to.  That didn’t last long as she felt like my tone through text were hostile even though they were simple things like “I’m outside, get the kids ready.” I believe she wanted me to bend at her every Will because she was the mother. She wanted me to speak to her as she was above me and I was being granted her children’s love. 

Do you have any biological children? 

I have a 22 month old son.

Do your step children and their half siblings get along?

My step children adore their younger brother and get along well. They are 12 and 10 years older, respectively than my son, so they do a lot with him.

What do your step children think of you?

I think they probably think that I'm very strict or mean, but they know that I have their best interests.

Does your husband try to understand how you are feeling since you said you felt like you were a glorified nanny?

I believe being a step mom is far more complex than he thinks it is. We are looking into couple’s counseling because I do not know how to communicate how difficult it is to him in a way that he can understand.

What was your relationship between you and your husband like before getting married and after, since he has kids?

It has been mostly the same. The only thing that has changed is that our children have gotten older and I try to accommodate changes on rules and chores. This has caused some tension as my husband continues to see them as his little babies but they are now 11 and 13. He often thinks they do not need to be regulated, he’s more of a go of the flow guy. I am the rules and bad cop because I believe children need structure. 

What’s the dynamic like in your relationship with your husband since you’re his children’s Step-Mother?

There is some tension. We now have a child together and he often believes that I love my son more than his children. This is far from the truth, but it is what he believes. He isn’t as involved raising his children as I am and it makes for difficult conversations. Like all mothers, I hold the job of maintaining the emotional labor, and that can be exhausting. 

Do you have any advice for other step parents?

Don't try to replace anything. Be your own type of parent, get support from others in your situation, and most of all love yourself more. The idea to love another's child(ren) as your own is ridiculous, it's a fallacy that needs to be thrown out because it isn't a natural or unconditional relationship, it is one of choice. We often get caught up trying to play into a role and forget that we are individuals with our own needs. We don't need to go above and beyond to be a great step parent, we already are bonuses!

If you are a step-parent and would like to share your story, please send reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram.  

- The Story Cloth Shop Team

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