Taking It All Personally As A Step Mom

February 12th, 2013 posted by Family Corner Staff

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moms and kids

I wrote this article after spending over 1/2 of my entire summer with my stepchildren. In early July we rallied to have my step kids here, over and above the court ordered visitation schedule for a number of reasons. One reason was because they were being cared for at a sitter directly across the road from our home anyway. I’ve always found that arrangement awkward at best, especially while passing the kids to go to the store. Ugh. So I decided this year that I was going to do my very best to accommodate those children here, in our home. I wanted them to have memories of summer “at Dads’ house”. And why not? We were able to wrangle two full days per week with one overnight in between, as well as extending our regular weekends on either side by one day! Hooray! Yes, that’s what I thought. I thought that the kids would be thrilled, I thought they would be genuinely thankful, I thought they would appreciate my efforts and my intentions. I expected a big “hooray” the next time I saw them. Nope. Nadda. Nothing. Just a “Yeah, that’s cool I guess.” Well, it seemed that parts of the summer, they did seem to enjoy themselves. But there certainly were times where I felt like a glorified baby-sitter. I am not a baby-sitter! I’m their “co-mom”. HA! They didn’t see it that way … after all this time. I thought that since we lived on the oceanfront in a large house, with zillions of things to do, they’d be happy and occupied. WRONG. It seemed that the more the children had to do, the less they were able to occupy themselves. I don’t know if it was the environment that stifled their imaginations, but it certainly seemed to be insignificant as far as stimulation went. I thought that being a stones’ throw to a beach would really turn their cranks — my own children included. Nope. Didn’t matter. It was “do we have to go to the beach again this week?” By the time August arrived, I was at my wits end. I felt overwhelmed, under appreciated, and like a temporary nanny that they could just walk all over. I thought to myself at that point, why? Why would four children (two bio, two step) be so unappreciative and whiny? What have I done wrong? What have I done to create such a miserable summer? The answer was “nothing” and too much. I did not create a miserable summer, I was perceiving their comments, thoughts, and moods, as rejection and maybe justifiably so at times. Rejection of me and my efforts. In reality, they were and are, just kids, and perhaps very *spoiled* kids. So – maybe I tore them away from the Nintendo for a few hours to drag them mercilessly to the beach, so maybe I made them go outside and play on the gigantic treehouse/playset they helped their father build two summers ago… maybe I was just doing what I thought was right and what they perceived as “parenting”. After all, I was their parent during those days, why wouldn’t I do those things? The fact remains that I am not their Mom, and their Mom probably would not have felt offended by their behavior this summer if she had been in my shoes. So why do I? I think it was because I expected them to go along with my “maternal” role, and for the most part they did. A step Mom has a difficult road ahead of her at any point. I, and many other step moms can be very sensitive to the reactions we receive from others with respect to our roles. It’s tough — no it’s REALLY tough being a step Mom. I decided that I will not “parent” to these children, rather, be a “friend” who will care for them, an “aunt” who makes herself available during the summer so they don’t need to spend their days at a sitter. I changed my thinking in order to get over and through this. I had to lower my expectations of these kids, to be able to cope. It’s still hard not to take things personally with respect to my step kids. If only they knew now what I had given up for them, just to have them here, I’d hope that they would appreciate it now, rather than later. I wonder if I should expect them to even consider what it is like for their step Mom, I’m thinking that it is just plain unrealistic to expect them to appreciate the dynamics at all at this point. After all, they are just kids. I think they might appreciate me as their step Mom, when they are adults, and have children of their own perhaps, appreciate the things I have given and given up for them. I wonder if I appreciate what THEY have given up for me, what THEY have had to part with because I came into the picture? Until then, I’m going to try very hard, not to take it all so personally, and then again….. maybe next summer I’ll make the vegetable garden a bit bigger and tole paint while pretending to listen to them complain of boredom while hanging upside-down from the monkey bars in the backyard …. 😉

Susan Wilkins-Hubley is a Canadian stepmom to two young children and biological mother to two more. Her family is complete with “his”, “her” and “our” children, however all family members find themselves in the “ours” category. Susan has been a stepmom for over four years and has experienced the trials and tribulations that most other stepmoms face day to day. Susan tries to keep her family at peace by mothering all of her children consistently and wearing ear plugs a lot of the time 🙂 Visit Susan’s website http://www.secondwivesclub.com

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