When I was younger, I watched Disney Movies weekly. I cheered for the lead character and strongly disliked/feared the antagonist. More often then not, In movies like Cinderella, the evil step mother lurked to destroy the joy and love step daughter. I was convinced that step mothers had an evil streak… that is, until I became one.
Yes, Step Moms tend to get a bad rap. Whether you are a “instant Mom” (you married a man who has already had kids, but you have no children yourself) or have a blended family, its a tough job being a step mom! I learned this the hard way, but over all, I became a stronger person for it.
I would love to tell you that I get along great with my husband’s ex, I would love it, when, my husband cannot pick up the kids, that I come over to his exes house, we have dinner together, chat like friends and raise a big blended family together. She does not like that I am married to HIM as she refers to my husband , let alone calling me on my cell phone to get my nails done together. Yes, those aspirations for a perfect family are far gone, though I will never fully lose hope.
I was twenty eight when I married my thirty four year old husband with three kids, two boys and a girl. I had no children of my own and my husband and his ex cannot stand each other. I wish I could paint a more mature picture of civility and mutual respect, but lets be honest, they have both said horrible things to each other (without kids present, but its still awful). I am no ‘parenting expert’ but this is what I have learned when I became an instamom:
1. I am not your Mom, but I will love you unconditionally like one- I can never replace their Mom, but I love them like they were my own. I know my boundaries and my husband does the discipline, but if they are ever in need of me, I am there. I respect their mother and will never speak poorly of her, always encouraging everyone’s relationship with one another. My family is not complete without the children.
2. Always Respect The Bio Mother- She has said her fair share of mean things about my husband and I, but I never will say anything to her. I won’t let her walk on me, but I understand that she is cautious of a woman she does not know, who now holds the title of step-mom (maybe she watched the same childhood Step Mom hating movies I did). She feels insecure, unsure and unhappy about my presence. I have sat down with her a few times to tell her I am no means replacing her and if she wants to ever chat, to just call.
3. YOU MATTER!- I spent years trying to please bio Mom, my husband and the kids. I wanted everyone to like me and I wanted everyone to get along. As much as that is the ultimate goal, it does not always work out that way. With that said, I was stressing myself out terribly. I spent time trying to be everyone’s friend instead of a parental figure. I was not being respected and at times, I felt trampled on. So, I take my Step Mother title seriously and they may not always like me, but they respect me, know they can depend on me, and each person knows I love them (yes, I care deeply about bio Mom, she is my step children’s mother!) I try to take a little time to myself as well. Loving myself was the biggest lesson I learned when becoming a step mom.
4. You Are Not The Children’s Friend, You’re Their Parent– I was very guilty of this! I wanted the children to like me so bad and I did not truly understand the dynamic of being a step mom, I spoiled the kids with sweets, staying up late and being a buddy instead of a Mom figure. After Bio Mom was not too happy about one of the kids letting them know how lax it was at Dads, I realized I had to be a parental figure.
Even though I do not have any birth children of my own, I am proud to be an Instant Mom to these children and everyday is a delicate balance to make sure their mother is number one, but I am there as a back-up.