It`s been a long time since my last blog post. I gave birth September 2013 and since then I have not even checked my blog. I looked it up now and I could see that I have had a lot of people looking at my blog. I am hoping that it has served as a comfort for someone out there, not feeling alone in their situation as a stepmom.
Someone encouraged me to write a blog post after I gave birth. How does it feel being a stepmom after having your own child?
I was worried during my pregnancy. And I can not look back and say everything has been easy. We have had our challenges along the way. Both the kids have, in their own way, had to adjust to the change. There has been cooperation issues. But in the midst of it all, it has been a journey filled with love and laughter and joy. I hope this can encourage someone out there.
My birth went smooth. We were lucky to have the grandparents staying with us, so the first days me and my husband could stay together in the hospital. When we came home, it was transition day. The few hours I spend with my son and my stepson after i got back from the hospital, was overwhelming enough. I was glad my husband and I had several days alone to figure out everything. I was taken well care of. When the kids came back, they both had their reactions. I think they both needed the affirmation that there still was room for them. It turns out that you do have room for several children in your heart! You love each of them in a unique way. A few days before my due date, someone I met told me about her experiences having a stepmom. She told me “your stepchild`s feelings for you will not change. But your feelings for your stepchild will change. That can be hard for your stepkids”. This was not my experience. I never stopped loving my stepkids, and my feelings never decreased. I had to adjust and find out a new way of being a stepmom. But to a certain degree, our family feels more complete. In some ways it is easier. My bond for my stepkids have deepened. I see the resemblance with the siblings. I know I am especially blessed, because both of them have learned to love their baby brother a lot. However, I have had to give them time. They have both had their tranisitions. For the first six months I had to patiently wait for the oldest to even show any interest. Now the bond between the oldest and youngest is so deep, and so filled with love.
Women often has an advantage when becoming a mother. Hormones help us connect with the kid. We sometimes have to wait patiently for others around us to develop attachment to the little one. But today I can say that it has been such a great journey as a family.
I was worried that my child would get less space; less attention, time, and less love. This has not been the case. The youngest is the center of the attention. The ones who need to be taken care of, are the two oldest! The youngest charms his way to the center of the attention everyday; every meal, every play time, every time we have guests. He is so used to people showing him interest, that he always expects everyone to give him all they have. Today when I came back from work, I found him in the middle of the playroom with his two oldest siblings both playing with him.
I know not everyone has a happy story as I do. Having a baby can bring out huge challenges. You get sleep deprived and you get tested in so many ways. But what I am trying to say is that it can work out having a baby in a stepfamily too, and it can work out pretty fantastic.
I am pregnant again. This time I am not as vulnerable. But I am much much more exhausted. I am looking forward to having a new family member. Always remember that the new baby also is a person who will affect the family dynamics. That is such an exciting process, and it is a privilege watching your child be an active person influencing the surroundings.
So my due date is getting closer and this is our situation: we are expanding our house. It was suppose to be done within May. it was delayed and was supposed to be done in June. Then it was suppose to be done in the beginning of August. To make a long story short, my husband is now working hard to have it done before I give birth. The carpenters are done but now there is that finishing work we aware suppose to be doing in the beginning of AuGust. With him being busy with the house I am busy with the kids. I can give birth any time and everybody tells me to rest. Rest? I have two kids to take care Of! My oldest step daughter has brought tons of friends home after she starred 5th grade. My youngest step son never complains but is not given the quality time he needs with his dad. The house is dirty and messy and I am running out if patience and energy. My step kids are also so much fun. So right now it is bitter sweet being stepmom.
There are certain things I can not change. There are certain things I do not want to change. I can’t change the fact that our house project was delayed. I can’t change the fact that I have spend my energy on my step kids. I don’t want to change the visitation schedule as I consider the kids to be an equal part of the family. They need to be involved when the baby comes. However we have made sure grandparents will help us out, take the kids on a weekend trip. We have talked about new rules such as not bringing friends over right after I have given birth.
Now I really want to hear from other experiences stepmoms out there. How did you handle being a stepmom and becoming a mom? How did you do it practically and emotionally? Any soothing words to give? Any happy stories out there of how a new baby made the stepmom role easier?
I would love to hear from you!
Both my stepkids have been away on a two weeks vacation with their mom. Yesterday the oldest one called her dad to tell him about her trip. There was no “say hello to my stepmom”.
Today my youngest stepson was returning from his vacation. I have been excited all day to see him. I have put on new sheets on his bed, packed his luggage for our vacation tomorrow, bought him a summer present but most of all been looking forward to seeing him again. 30 minutes before arrival someone was at our door. It was him and his mom. I followed my husband to greet them. I don’t expect the mom to say hi. But I do expect myself to be polite and welcome my stepkids when they come to our home. The result is that I am just standing there being completely ignored.
My stepson shows excitement in a typical Boy’s way. He jumps and climbs on his dad. In the meantime I just have to wait. Sometimes this wait is hurtful. Sometimes it hurts so much that I choose not to be there because it is clearly I am far down below on the kids’ hit list. I know they will come around. I know I just have to be patient. I have to give them space and I have to endure being a nobody in that special moment of being united again.
Today I chose to retreat to house chores as I often do in those situations. I often start preparing a meal. I do it with mixed feelings. A part of me feels reduced to a house maid. Another part feels that I am actually playing a part. I stood there cooking dinner while having a lump in my throat. My sensitive husband made a few efforts to include me in the reunion which just usually makes it worse and make me feel more vulnerable and rejected. My eyes felt soar. Then I heard a little voice calling my name “would you like to see the feathers I have collected With dad?” And there he was proudly presenting the three feathers. From there on the connection was reestablished. I do matter. That means a lot because my stepkids mean the world to me.
Have you ever been thrown into situations where you simply feel awkward and out of place as a stepmom? Have you had any of those situations where you do not know what your role is suppose to look like, or if you are even wanted?
Yesterday I went to a school play at my oldest stepchild`s school. Attending events at school is one of the less favorable things I do as a stepmom. I simply do it because I want my stepchildren to know I am cheering on them. I have really no desire to go. I have asked a couple of times if it is okay I do not attend, and the response has been that I am wanted. This time I did not ask, however, because I am thinking that sometimes adults just need to support kids and not let emotions decide.There will come a time where my stepkids might not want their parents nor stepparents attending, but we will continue to do so just to show them our support.
I try to balance how much I attend different activities. I am not their mom, and therefor to me it feels unnatural to attend every event. I do not want to ruin proud moments for a mom by being there, at the same time I want my stepkids to look back thinking I was involved in their lives.
Being involved in my stepkids lives do add some humbling experiences. Like last year… My oldest stepchild had asked me to attend the summer school play. She had asked me to bake for it and to buy gifts for the lottery. I did all these things, feeling uncertain if I took over a mother`s role. I baked muffins and they became a huge hit. At the end of the event my stepdaughter`s parents had both left. My husband had gone home with his sick son, the mom had left. This was on a day my stepdaugther was at her mom`s house. When the night was over I was gonna walk my stepdaugther home. She did forget to mention, however, that she had brought a bike. She ran off with friends, while I ended up walking with a group of moms. No one talked to me. No one included me in the conversations. I tried to contribute a little bit while we were all heading in the same direction with our empty cake trays. After a while I realized I was completely excluded from the parents group. I started walking a little bit faster. That night when I came home I just cried. I felt that in the role of being a stepmom I am completely uninteresting to other moms, and not someone worthy to invest anything into. The sadness in this is that I have moved into a neighborhood for the sake of my stepkids. I have no friends there, but I am surrounded by families who have kids in the same school or class as my oldes stepchild.
This year I was much more nervous about going to the school play. I knew it would be an awkward evening for me. At the same time there was a tiny little hope there. During the last year I have repetidly had girls over for sleep overs, birthdays, given them dinner, let them stay at our house when the parents are working. But there was no reason to be hopeful. I was just as interesting this year as last year. I think there was just one mom who gave me a little “hi”. Other than that I was a complete stranger.
I think I have to accept the fact that as a stepmom I am a nobody in a parent group. The good thing is that I am not a nobody for the kids. Coming home from work yesterday, one of the girls from the class was waiting for me while I was parking the car. She smiled when she saw me and said “You made such a fun birthday. I had such a fun time!”. There have been weeks since that birthday, which was another occasion I felt awkward. When the parents came to pick up their kids, they barely knew who I was. I served them cake, but most of them was uninterested in talking to me. However, that girl gave me the best encourragement I could get. She remembered the birthday out of all the birthdays happening before school ends.
Other parents might look at me as a stepmom or a nobody or someone they have no clue how to relate to. Kids, however, they just relate to me as a person. How great is that!
When I was becoming a stepmom I was not prepared. I have no role models in my immediate family or among friends because there simply are few divorces in my social sircles. “Stepmom” was the last role I was expecting to take on. I am, however, one of those who simply love kids. I adore spending time with kids, they are my favorite kind of people. I find most kids fascinating and I usually develop good relationships with kids. Therefor I expected the same with my stepkids.
My expectations were met. The kids and I quickly developed great relationships. I am not one of those stepmoms who have experienced that the stepkids do not want to get to know you. In our wedding my stepkids were my biggest support. They made the day even more special. Moving in with them was so much fun. I would come home and find flowers picked along the road, that my stepdaugther had picked on her way to her mom. My stepdaughter came to visit me, even when the dad was not there, and just hung out with her friends on weekends she was not with us. Both the kids expected that visitation would happen even though their dad was out working, because I was home.
I think I followed all the good advices I could find in the “stepparent litterature” that exists out there. What I discovered, however, was that most articles and books are about the introduction phase. “Do not introduce your new girlfriend too early. Take time to get to know the kids. Do not move in together too quickly. Do not discipline your stepchildren before you have made good relationsips with them. Be involved with them first, and even then be careful. “, etc,etc. But where is the follow up litterature? Yes, the introduction phase is probably very important because it lays a foundation for further relationships. But lets face it, this is just a short period of the rest of your life. You will be spending the rest of your life having your stepchildren in your family. To me the introduction phase was easy, joyful, fun and adventerous. But then the honeymoon phase faded out. I found myself living with my stepkids, sharing bathroom and kitchen with them day in and day out, eating breakfast, dinner, supper, going on vacations, spending weekends, weekdays, in sickness and in health.
As a stepmom I passed the introduction phase. But it is in the daily life I find the real challenges of being a good stepmom, and having a good life as a stepmom. You never know what it feels like to be picking up other kids`underwear every night after they have gone to bed, before you actually do it every night. You do not know how it feels to plan every single vacation with another woman (or two as in my case), before you actually do plan every single vacation. I used to be a super stepmom. I used to be fun, understanding, patient, loving, generous. I used to be pretty fantastic. But then daily life hunted me down. I disocvered that the introduction phase is not necessarily the same as happily ever after. I learned that at one point or another I will have needs that are in conflict with my stepkids needs. I simply learned that my stepfamily life is not an everlasting Sound of music, where I play the lead role as the charming stepmom. I learned I am a human being, made out of flesh and blood. And do you know what happens? Sometimes I fail. How painful it was to discover this truth about myself. And what a great gift it is as it teaches me to be humble towards others. Life in a step family is filled with pitfalls, and I do fall into them from time to time, sometimes more frequently than other times. My blessing in life is that I have a husband who wipes my tears of failure and never expects me to be perfect nor life to be a musical. My blessing in life is that I have gracious stepchildren, who forgives me when I ask them to. My blessing in life is that my life is build upon a grace that has promised eternal life, and gives me hope that one day there will bea new heaven and earht and an everlasting happily ever after.
“You are so stressed out”. She looked at me. It was transition day. Our last transition day had been the hardest so far in our journey. I could hear the echo of an adult voice. The characteristics of me on each transition day, often a new one. Either it is about my car being unsafe or I give bad advice, there is always something new. How do I respond?
I try different approaches. “Do you really think i give bad advices? That is not good if I do. It must be hard to listen to a bad advice”. Or maybe ignoring. Or that time with the car when the child actually said “mom says your car is unsafe”, I said “really? That is not a very nice thing to say, why did she say that?”.
I never know how to respond. The comments are unpredictable. Sometimes I smile or laugh. But inside me I cry. Inside me I feel sorry for myself: “I do all these things for your child. I spend all my money, time and energy, and this is how you treat me?”.
Why are there different rules for how a stepmom is being treated? Like last time I delivered my stepson (different mom). He was sick, and I took care of him for a couple of hours because his mom needed to work. I brought him to her job, waited for her, and there she came. She did not dignify me with even a look or a “hi”. A “thank you” was obviously completely out of the question. I stood there being anything but shocked. Then afterwards I thought to myself “If I had a child, and someone took care of him, looked after him while I worked, brought him to me happy, would I not thank that someone?”-
Being a stepmom truly means being stepped on at times.
What a miracle that my stepchildren do not treat me any worse than they do! What a miracle that we can actually have such a good family life, despite of everything.
How to cope? Sometimes I really have no clue. My heart is being stepped on because I am a stepmom. I do not deserve being treated with respect, it seems like. I whisper “they do not know me, they are hurt. Hurting people hurt others. I will not hurt them back.”
In a previous post about being pregnant as a stepmom, I have written about how it feels to not share this “first time” experience with my husband, as he all ready has two kids. He takes good care of me, but his enthusiasm is so so. Maybe it is because he is a man and can not completely grasp it, or maybe it is because he has previous experiences. I know that when he will hold our child for the first time, it will not be his first experience of holding his child for the first time. I have been wrestling with this. I want my baby to be a miracle to him the way it is to me.
Today I was thinking about how much I love sharing about the pregnancy with my 5 year old stepson. His eyes sparkles when I start talking about the baby. I did not think he would be that interested, but it turns out he takes it seriously that he is becoming an older brother to the little baby. He wants to make sure we have the right equipment for the baby, and can tell me things such as “we will need a stroller, because we might want to take the baby out for a walk”. He wants to make sure the things we by for the baby has a color the baby likes, and not necessarily something he likes. I realized today that one of the reasons why I love sharing with him and involving him, is because this is a first time experience for both of us. I connect with him, and he responds in a way that confirms my feeling of this being a miracle, something unique and exciting. None of us know exactly how things will turn out, but I think we both sense that it will be a tremendous change, and we both take it seriously the parts we are playing in this change.