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Step-Moms Are Not The Enemy

Step-Moms are not the Enemy

In my 20’s, I had a list in my head of all the things I wanted in a husband. Right there at the top was “never married, and no kids.” It’s not that I didn’t like kids, I just didn’t want the drama and baggage that usually comes with that situation. However, when you fall in love, all the “rules” go out the window.

When I met my now-husband, I soon learned that he was divorced and had a young son. I was apprehensive, but I figured if this kid is anything like his dad, he would be pretty great. I was really lucky in that my now-Stepson is truly an awesome kid. I’ll be honest, though… I was scared to become a Stepmom.

I’ve always loved kids and wanted at least 1 or 2 myself. I dreamed about the bond we would have, Mommy and baby. One of the toughest things about becoming a Stepmom is that you have to develop that bond with a child whose early years you weren’t around for. I wasn’t there when he needed rocked back to sleep as a baby. I wasn’t there when he said his first word, or took his first step. I wasn’t there for those early memories.

My Stepson was 4 when I met him. In a sense, it wasn’t as difficult as I think it would have been had he been several years older at the time. Although we hit it off pretty good right away, it was a confusing situation for both of us. For him, not knowing exactly who this lady was and why she was hanging around a lot. For me, not knowing exactly where I fit in. I wasn’t sure what I could and couldn’t say, or what I could and couldn’t do. I’d never been on this side of it, and wasn’t sure where the boundaries were.

A healthy stepmother knows that some days she's a stage hand, some days she's the leading lady, and some days she's the audience...and she plays each role with grace and style.

You see, I had a Stepmom myself, and the experience wasn’t exactly what you’d call pleasant. I was 6 when she came into my life. She was young and pretty, and I was excited to have a fun big sister-like friend. At least, that’s how I looked at it from a child’s perspective. She WAS fun. She liked to play with me, fix my hair, and I got to wear all these really pretty dresses all the time. It was great…until it wasn’t anymore. When she got pregnant with my oldest little sister, everything changed.

She wasn’t fun and nice anymore. She didn’t want to play or hang out with me anymore. She no longer needed me to fill that “daughter” role. After all, she was having one of her very own, and I was just in the way of her perfect family. I won’t go so far as to compare myself to Cinderella, but in some aspects, that is how I felt.

She and my Dad had 3 daughters together, and I adored my little sisters. Still do. I am quite a bit older than them (9, 10, and 15 years older to be exact), so I sometimes felt more like a Mom figure to them than a big sister. However, that age gap just helped further the divide my Stepmom put between me and HER family.

Unfortunately, I could go on and on about the roughness of our relationship, but I’ve put a lot of that behind me, and try not to dwell too much on the past. The one thing I knew was that if I were ever in that situation again, I would do everything in my power to be the complete opposite of her.

Step-moms are not the enemy

When I married my husband and officially became a Stepmom, I tried incredibly hard to find my place. A place where I would have a great relationship with my Stepson, but at the same time not step on any toes. His mother was not easy to deal with at the time, and sometimes made things very difficult. I get it. It can’t be easy at all to see your son with someone new. I tried (and still do try) everything possible to keep the peace. I didn’t want to give her a reason to hate me. I wanted to keep as much civility between all of us as possible. I didn’t want my Stepson to ever feel caught in the middle of everything like I often did as a child.

The first big test was his 5th birthday party. My now-husband and I had been together for the better part of a year at this point. He and his ex-wife always had a joint birthday party so that their son would always have some sort of normalcy. The day before the party, she decided that I wasn’t going to be allowed to attend. My now-husband was furious, and I was hurt. However, as an attempt to form some kind of peace between us, I didn’t put up a fight. I guess I can see her side. She, herself, hadn’t met me yet (mostly because she refused to) and she didn’t want his party to be the first time. I didn’t want to be the cause of any unnecessary drama, so I stayed at home while everyone else went to the birthday party.

Nearly 5 years later, I feel like I’ve somewhat found my place as a Stepmom. I still do my best to toe the line and not overstep any boundaries. I still worry that I’ll do or say something that will upset his Mom, and sometimes I do unintentionally. I guess that comes with the territory.Step-Moms are not the Enemy. Most of us are just doing the best we can with the situation we've been given, and trying not to step on any toes in the process.It’s hard not having him all the time. We are lucky in that we share joint custody, so we do get him 50% of the time, but it’s hard to keep a great family dynamic going when things change every Sunday at 6pm.  That goes the same for both sides.  Half of the time, I’m doing all the “Mom” things…packing school lunches, waiting in the car pickup line, helping with homework, getting up at night when he’s sick or has a bad dream, but I’ll still never be “Mom.” I’m certainly not trying to take his Mom’s place, and I love that he has a great relationship with her. I know it’s tough on both sides, and this is the new normal that we are all living and dealing with.

My husband and I have since had a little girl. I’ll be honest, it sometimes can be difficult to treat both kids the same, but I do my best every day to accomplish that. I love them both, but in different ways.

And that little girl just ADORES her Bubba! Likewise for him. He has really blossomed in his big brother role, and I love seeing the two of them play together. As she’s growing up, it makes it even more difficult when he leaves for his Mom’s week. Little sister will look around for Bubba, and go sit outside his door, hoping he will come out to play.

There are so many bad connotations with the word “Stepmom” that it almost feels like a bad word when you say it. Nearly every instance in books, movies, and even a lot of real life stories, features the Stepmom as a child’s worst nightmare. However, we aren’t all like the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella. In reality, most of us are just doing the best we can with the situation we’ve been given, and trying not to step on any toes in the process.

We may not be the ideal, cookie-cutter family I had dreamed of having, but this is our modern day, perfectly imperfect family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you have a non-traditional family dynamic? How do you make it work?

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  • 2017-07-19 at 2:54 PM

    It sounds like you are doing an amazing job of putting your son first – which is what any parent figure should do. My stepmom is a vital part of my life. Never a replacement for mom, but she filled the areas where my mom didn’t. Keep doing what your doing!

  • 2017-07-19 at 5:05 PM

    What a beautiful post! It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job ❤️ You can’t choose who you fall in love with! You were meant to be this boys step mom❤️

  • 2017-07-19 at 8:36 PM

    Everything happens for a reason and we are all on our own path. You are doing great!! Kudos to you!

  • 2017-07-19 at 9:39 PM

    You sound like a great bonus-mom! I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have him leave and only stay 50%, and same for his mother, as a mom myself it would be so hard for me to not have my child with me at all times. It sounds like you guys are doing a great job co-parenting!!

  • 2017-07-19 at 11:24 PM

    I have a non traditional family as well. My ex is remarried and has a another child. We get along very well though and his wife is wonderful. We drive to visit them a few times a year ( about 6 hours) and my son and I stay with them for a weekend so the kiddos do can play and see each other..

  • 2017-07-19 at 11:37 PM

    It sounds like you are rocking the step mom title! He’s a very lucky little guy to have someone like you 💜

  • 2017-07-20 at 5:39 AM

    Thats so nice feeling when reading ur post. You as a mother doing great job. Like all fingers of our hand cant be equal same like all step moms cant be equally harsh to their step children. Some moms are like you also exist in this world.

  • 2017-07-20 at 6:32 AM

    Awww. This hasn’t been my experience but I’m can appreciate how difficult it must be. Sounds like you’re doing a great job.

  • 2017-07-24 at 8:50 PM

    Shawna, I’m a stepmom, too. And hear everything you’re saying. It was nice to read it. Our difference is that we don’t have any children together… so we have “mine” and “yours”. But we make it work and love them both lots! Anyway…I enjoyed reading your blog. I’ll keep up with it from now on!

    • 2017-07-26 at 7:03 AM

      Thank you, Emily! That can’t be the easiest situation either, but I’m so glad y’all are able to make it work!

  • 2017-10-25 at 8:02 PM

    Thanks for this great read. I’m a stepmom too, but it’s different since my SD doesn’t have a relationship with her mother. Instead, she grew up with her grandma (father side). Even if it may sound easier since the mother is not ALWAYS in the picture, it was still hard since there are times when I believe that something (i.e. discipline) is the right way for her. For instance, her grandma yells at her if she does something wrong. On the other hand, I believe reprimanding in a calm way is the right way. Things like that.

    But as a stepmom, I can’t tell her grandma that, and more importantly, I really have no place to decide what’s the right way to discipline her. She’s now 11 and in her rebellious phase. She lashes out at everyone, except at me and her dad.. In all the years I’ve known her and seen her bratty side (I met her when she’s just two), she’s never lashed out at me. Now that she’s grown up, it’s harder to be that stepmom who fills in the role of a mom because we never got to spend a lot of time.

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