What it’s Like to be an Imperfect Stepmom

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I am an imperfect stepmom! I think all stepmoms are imperfect, just as are parents, but there seems to be more of an eye on stepparents because someone else’s children are our responsibility at times.

No stepmom is the same and our situations are all different. The stepmom across the street from me and my stepmom friend in Madison have completely different experiences. 

We all have different custody schedules/arrangements, our husbands have different opinions on the role we should take (some stepmoms communicate with the bio mom and some don’t) and the age that a stepmom comes into a child’s life can make a big difference. It is a much different experience entering early elementary years versus teenage years.

I came into my step-daughters’ lives when they were two and four years old, they will be ten and twelve this summer. Time flies! I do not have my own biological children and my stepdaughters are home about 40% of the time.

Below are a few thoughts on being an imperfect stepmom. 

  • Sometimes I feel like a glorified babysitter. When the girls are home with us – and Coronavirus hasn’t shut down the world – I make school lunches, I handle school drop off and pick up, I plan all of our meals and cook a majority of the time, I attend school concerts and sports functions, I help with homework (minus sixth-grade math … yikes!) I dry tears, hand out band-aids and give pep talks. I take vacation days during the summer and take the girls to do fun things, like Mulberry Lane Farms, a beach day, or the Wildlife Sanctuary. But when it comes to the hard stuff, I am not always asked for my opinion because dad and mom are the final decision-makers. It is a weird position to be in, but this many years in, it does not bother me as much as it used to. I have learned to control what I can control.
  • Stepmoms are often ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t!’ Imagine being at a sports event where other parents are thinking, “She’s just trying to get in the good graces and be seen supporting Jane.” And then stepmom can’t attend the next game. “What, she can’t attend all the games and support her step-daughter?” Many veteran stepmoms will tell you that no matter what decision you make, it is always the wrong decision to some people. The key is to not care what others think and do what is right for you and your family.
  • There are so many myths that I try to debunk if someone brings them up in my presence. No, I am not trying to take the place as their mom; they have one! And thank you, Disney, for consistently portraying that stepmothers are evil. No, we do not make our stepchildren do a crazy amount of housework, but yes, they are still required to do chores in our house because we want to raise responsible kids.
  • I cannot schedule a vacation without (what feels like) a committee meeting. I am envious of parents who can schedule a weekend away or take a vacation without having to confer with other people.
  • Do not assume that a disengaged stepmom is a problem. Maybe her husband asked her to butt out of something, which has left her feeling that she was good enough until her opinion was not appreciated, so she took a step back. This is a friendly reminder to not judge what you don’t know. 
  • Dating our spouses is incredibly important. There is no honeymoon period when children already exist.
  • No, we did not know what we were getting into when we married a man with children, just like no mother knows what it is going to be like when she births a child or adopts a child. This statement really needs to stop for the blended family community. It makes no sense! 

While being a stepmom – and I assume a stepdad – is very difficult at times, each blended family must find their groove in the marriage and with the kids. Do what works for you and ignore the outside noise; embrace being an imperfect stepmom!

 

More stepmom adventures:  A Stepmom Who Realized She was Part of the Problem