Being a parent is no easy task. The biggest problem in becoming a parent is realising we don’t really know whom we are raising. We can instil the best of our knowledge, the kindest manners, and provide the best education to our children and in the end, it comes down to the choices that child wants to make for him or herself.
As a stepparent, you come into the post-divorce messed up parental equation realising that you don’t know squat about the children or their past. You could rely on the parents (the person you are dating and their counter part) but ultimately, you are just collecting data that is based, primarily on the opinion of a loving parent who genuinely wants the best for their child, a child you are taking on whether you want to or not.
I have been fortunate… well, let’s be honest, my children have been fortunate. The two fathers that helped to create these really cool kids chose women that I don’t have to worry or stress over. There is nothing inappropriate that has taken place. No tears or anxiety follow my children home after spending time with their dads and step-mums. These two women outshined me as a step-mum, for certain. Though I remedied my wrongs and foul errors as a step-mum they still outdid me in that department. Where were they when I was a step-mum???
I am grateful that the two women who agreed to a life with the fathers of my children have such a desire to be in my children’s lives. They not only show as much commitment to their husbands but respect for my position in my kidlets’ lives. Neither of these women has attempted to run me out of my parental role or make my life difficult by brain washing or flipping the children against me. I have heard horror stories and honestly, I am glad I don’t have to worry about power struggling with someone who doesn’t want power – just to be included.
The step-mums in my life know how I feel, hopefully. They know I slip up and talk out of bounds and they both know they have permission to remind me of that. I don’t always like to hear it but that quick cashing of the reality check is what I need sometimes to bring my head out of the “mumma bear clouds” and back to the present situation.
Many women would be upset and be putting down a superiority gauntlet detailing what step-mum can and can’t do and I just won’t do that. I don’t like everything that these women do in their homes but I bet they don’t like everything I do either. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as we put the children first. After all, we are bonded through them.
So, for the step-mums in my children’s lives, I have this to say to you:
1. So, far, you have found where you fit as “mum” in your home in terms of the kids – thank you! My kids appreciate you and have generated a special place in their heart for you and that means something to me because heaven forbid, should I not be here one day you go from the best supporting role to best primary role.
2. Your relationship with the kidlets is between you and them. I will positively foster that relationship as much as I can from my home.
Listen: Ever heard of birds-nest parenting? We deep-dive on the trend, on our podcast for imperfect parents, This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
3. Pride in terms of the kids is yours to enjoy and mine to enjoy. It is easy to share the more stressing or difficult responsibilities of parenting and it is challenging to share the moments of pride when it comes to the special moments. A sense of pride, in terms of the children, is not something we share but something we create within ourselves based on the breadth of the relationship with each individual child. So, share the pride and joy with me – the more the merrier for the children’s sake!
4. I don’t hate you and I won’t! You have chemistry with a man that I don’t and, while that might upset most women I see it as a positive. These kids need to see positive healthy relationships at home. Healthy relationships within and between the parental units outweigh staying married to avoid stigmas.
5. He is YOUR husband. I don’t see him as “MY ex-husband” though our conversations may be contrary to that. I try to watch myself and this may make no difference to anyone else but me. This is my way of showing your relationship respect and letting you know I understand my bounds and respect your relationship.
6. Let me know how I can help you. You got to choose your husband so you pretty much know what he is about. You didn’t get to choose the kids and you didn’t get to be around from day 1. There are days when the kids are more challenging or maybe you are not sure what to get them for those special holidays. Maybe we’re not “besties” but we aren’t enemies either – we can’t be; we have children we are raising together. If I can do anything, let me know. Doesn’t make me a better mom than you, just a resource you can use if you like.
How can I be so civil with the women in my children’s lives that could potentially replace me? Because we have the same priority between our households, our children. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to have another woman stepping in but she really isn’t a threat. She won’t do things “your way” but she will do things from the same place you do – a place of love. That should be what is important. If you are not seeing that from stepmom check your eyesight. You might be looking at her with your emotions instead of through your children’s heart.
More over, I don’t focus on what my children think of their step-mum or if they love her more than me. That kind of thinking is riddled with insecurities and self-doubt in terms of comparison. There is no need to compare so I don’t worry about comparing me being a better mum to her being a great step-mum. I worry about what I am doing as a mum for my kids.
I focus on my relationship with my children. Since there are no signs of abuse nor are my children lashing out, I feel confident things are okay. If my children want to refer to their step-mum as “mum” or want to generate a name just for her that is wonderful – and it has happened! It means that stepmom is doing something right by my children and they want to show her they love her. If that is the case then, damn, my kidlets are lucky to have two mums!
The award-winning podcast Mamamia Out Loud is doing their first live show. There will be laughs, disagreements and you can meet the hosts afterwards! We’re also donating $5 of every ticket price to Share The Dignity so grab your friends and come along to share the love and laughs, get your tickets here.