Unfortunately, that may be most of the people reading this. Now I’m not going to get into statistics, because well…that’s boring. We all know divorce rates are high.
I also don’t want to get into the why’s of divorce today – not that I condone divorce.
I just want to focus on understanding and meeting people where they are.
This is one of those posts that’s hard to write. I like to be transparent here, but there are some things that seem … too personal. Or maybe a better way to put it would be some things aren’t easy to put out there because feelings can get hurt.
That’s exactly why I’m doing this post. There are things the stepmom in your life can’t tell you for whatever reason: fear of judgment or hurting those she cares for, shame, whatever.
Each blended family is unique, just like we’re all unique. My situation may be drastically different than the person you know, but I imagine there are a lot of similarities. Read on if you want to understand her a little better.
Sometimes she feels nothing she says or does is good enough.
Whether real or imagined, stepmoms feel judged: by outsiders, family members, children, the ex.
She feels judged on how well her step-children react to her. If they tell her they love her. If they seem to think about her on major holidays – especially Mother’s Day. If they hug her. If they tell her about the big and little of their lives.
She feels judged on how she deals with the ex-wife. If she pushes for what she knows or feels to be right for her family’s finances, emotional health, and general well-being, she’s a troublemaking evil stepmother. But if she relents because she knows her husband and step-children are caught in the middle, she’s feels like a pushover.
She feels judged on her role in the ending of the previous marriage. Even though she met her husband after the divorce, when she answers the question ‘Do you have any children?’ with ‘I have three step-children,’ she can hear the unspoken questions. She wants to tell you she had nothing to do with the divorce, she loves her step-children as much as she’s able, and she hopes that one day everyone can just get along. But she can’t just blurt all that out, so she smiles and nods at whatever nicety you say.
She feels judged on her decision to marry a man with children from a previous relationship. Somehow she chose who God made for her and the decisions he made before she came along. She chose all the hard things that come because she married him.
And sometimes she feels judged on her parenting of the stepchildren. Should she stop the argument before it gets out of hand or is she overstepping? Should she correct manners or is that not her place because she’s not the mother?
Ah! It can be so confusing.
Sometimes she doesn’t know any more than you do.
The term ‘stepmom’ implies that she’s a mother figure in her step-children’s lives. That totally makes sense.
But ‘Step-AUNT’ would convey a stepmom’s role – and knowledge – much better. She really doesn’t know anything beyond what an aunt would normally know about her nieces and nephews.
Do you ever tell someone something – like your mom or friend – and then think later you told your spouse? Happens to me all the time.
Now think about step-children and that they have two households to keep informed.
That’s a lot for a kid, and it’s hardest to keep the noncustodial home informed of every little thing going on since they weren’t actually there when the conversation or event happened.
She’d do it all over again.
But she knows – and probably understands better now – that there are no fairy tales.
She looks at other ‘normal’ people and envies their simplicity during the hard moments, but she knows that no one has a simple life. We’re all struggling with something.
And so often the very best things in life come with a little heartache.
I’m not going to try and say being a stepmom is the hardest thing ever. We don’t have exclusive bragging rights on the hard lot, because every person on this planet has their own stuff.
There are definitely more to add to this list, but I think these things sums up a lot. Even at only three things. I hope it gives you a good starting point to understand the stepmom in your life better.
If you’re a stepmom, I’d love to know anything else you’d add to the list.
If you know a stepmom, I’d love to know what you think too.
Need more resources? Well, I found one more for you this time. Here you go!