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Full-time step-mum

KirstyMaire's picture

Hi everyone, 

I'm Kirsty and I'm new to this blog. I joined to meet and talk to other step-mums who may be in a similar situation. 

I have been a full-time step-mum for almost 2 years. My stepson wasn't even a year old when I first came into his life and it all happened really fast. His BM passed away when he was only a few months old.

It's a long and complicated story so I will start from the beginning.

My partner and I have been close friends since we were teenagers, when he got into a relationship we lost contact for almost 3 years. It was a very toxic relationship and she was very mentally unstable. They had social services involved from the beginning because of her violent outbursts to my now OH. Even though the relationship was toxic he stayed, because he still cared about her and didn't want her to do anything stupid. 

When the relationship ended, she took her own life. My stepson being only a few months old at the time. My partner took a lot of the blame. As a friend, I offered what support I could, from helping with food shops, toys for the little one, furniture, and even babysitting when he decided to go back to college.

I was there through his grieving, to the point he was feeling suicidal himself. Over time he still hurts but it was getting easier and I was pretty much there all the time because I didn't want him making the same mistake. After he started at college things got much easier for him, he put a lot of his time and energy into getting his qualifications and we developed our relationship. 

I ended up moving in as I was here all the time anyway and it was just more convenient for both of us. Just as he turned 1 I became a full-time stay-at-home step-mum. In the beginning, most of her family was really unsupportive of our relationship. Yet they offered no support to my OH. He couldn't work because he was a single dad, I was supporting them both financially as the money he was getting wasn't enough to cover rent, bills, and food for the both of them. 

I covered the costs of his first birthday party, for all the family to enjoy including the face painting, bouncy castle, food drinks, party games, etc which all came to around £400 and that's not including gifts. All for his nan to go slandering me to other party guests. I didn't take much notice as I knew the family was still hurting. When her side of the family saw how much I was doing they did apologize in the end.

When that finally stopped my partner's mum started to verbally attack me, mainly out of jealousy because she didn't like how close me and my stepson were. My stepson is still only young and doesn't understand I'm not his biological mum because I do everything a biological mum would, but yet people still like to make comments about how he isn't mine. I know I shouldn't let this get to me and I know it's just bitterness but it still does. 

I love my stepson, I've been there through him learning to walk, learning to talk, I've been the one who has stayed up countless nights when he's been poorly. I sorted him out a nursery, I do doctor's appointments and everything in-between. It just gets to me sometimes mainly when everyone rushes to my partner's side when things seem to be too much for him. When things get too much for me I'm the bad person.

I love the relationship between me and mu stepson and I wouldn't give it up for anything. We all have a strong relationship and we've hit many bumps along the road to get to where we all are now. I just get fed up with my feelings never taken into consideration and feeling like I'm getting attacked from every angle.


tog redux's picture

Well, two issues here - one is that your partner needs to set limits on BM's family. While it's good that he allows them contact, they need to realize that he could shut the door on that if they won't behave appropriately towards you - so that boundary needs to be set and enforced - by HIM.  At some point you may adopt this kid and then he will be YOUR son and it's your call too on how much BM's family sees him, if they are going to be inappropriate.

Second, men get treated like heroes when they parent their own children - for women, it's expected.  I have a friend who tells the story about how she and her husband were on an airplane with their two young kids.  They sat apart and each had one kid.  While they were getting off the plane, people were commenting on what a great father her husband was (they weren't together in the line) because he had one of the kids.  No one said a word to her, of course.  So it's typical for people to think women should just be able to handle kids as a natural thing, but fathers are heroes if they parent equally.

KirstyMaire's picture

Thankfully on BM's side of the family, it has calmed down a lot. I get along well with one of her sisters and she has been encouraging us to make me a legal parent of SS. Now it's mainly my OH's mum causing the issues. It's just plain jealousy and she hates that me and SS have a strong relationship. She doesn't like when SS is upset it's me he goes to not her (even though he does still love his nan). If it was down to her I'd be cut out of the picture entirely. She's quick to judge every decision I make.

She still makes comments about how I signed him up for a different school that is the best in the area and not the one the other grandchild goes to just because she can't go and pick him up. 

It just seems to be one issue after another with both of their families. Even though my partner knows she is in the wrong he won't stand up to her. I've even mentioned I don't feel comfortable with her just walking into our house. Mainly because she puts me on edge constantly. He asks her to knock which she won't so now we just try to keep the doors locked throughout the day so she can't. 

Oh and we also said her boyfriend is not allowed around the house due to him taking drugs here on New Year's eve. Which she still allowed him around after she knew he wasn't welcome into our home. Yet my OH still won't stand up to her. 

tog redux's picture

And there is your problem. He needs to stand up to her and make clear that HE is the parent, and he will decide how his son is raised, along with your help. 

Winterglow's picture

Does your SO understand how you feel? Does he protect you from people like his mother? 

KirstyMaire's picture

He does tell his mother when she is being out of order but she doesn't respect what he says either. We've asked her to knock before coming in, we've said her partner is not welcome at our home after finding out he took drugs here on New Year's eve which she let into our home after that. 

He just won't properly stand up to her. His excuse being "She won't listen anyway"

Winterglow's picture

That is not an excuse. He has to draw his boundaries and stick to them. HAS TO. If not, things will never improve. She brings her druggie boyfriend around? He doesn't get in. If she tries to force the issue, call the cops. I hope to goodness she doesn't have a key!

Has he considered moving away so that you can start afresh?

KirstyMaire's picture

We have threatened to call the police if she brings him to the house again and no she hasn't got a key thankfully. We have talked about moving and having a fresh start. Although because of his mum's health issues he doesn't want to move away too far incase anything happens to her. Which on his side I do understand, at the end of the day she is still his mum. 

Winterglow's picture

Please remind him that he needs to live his life for himself and not for his mother. Her health issues are hers to handle. Yes, I understand that he wants to be around but ... sometimes you have to think of your own future. Also, moving away doesn't mean going to another planet ... just far enough away that she isn't tempted to drop in whenever she feels like it. Just far enough away to call to be sure someone will be in when she stops by. 

futurobrillante99's picture

So your partner was essentially widowed about 3 years ago. Grief is a complex beast and even if they were broken up, I'm sure he's got some serious feelings of guilt over her suicide causing his child to be left motherless..........even if it wasn't his fault.

You don't say much about your relationship with your partner. Your post seems to focus on just how much you're in love with his son. Guard your heart.

If you have people against you, they may poison him against you as he gets older. It will be hard to do in the early days, but may come later.

Tell us more about your relationship with his father. Are you two planning to marry and start your own family?

One thing I've learned about men and grief is that they tend to start over really fast after a breakup or death of a partner. And him having a child would have caused him to want to quickly find a replacement mommy.

Be very careful that he isn't using you to cushion his grief, and when he's healthier, moves on to someone new.

I say that because I'm dating a widower and the first year (his 4th year of grieving his long term late wife) was brutal. I wasn't in a good place, myself, but he was working through some serious grief, and it's still there, nearly 2 years later. He's much healthier now, but I see signs he's still not ready to build a life with me.

He's got a pact with his LW to sprinkle her ashes in beautiful places around the world which was interfered with during Covid, but it's also been nearly 6 years and he's got a LOT of her ashes left. One of the signs that he's ready to move forward with me will be when he's fulfilled his promise to his LW and has sprinkled the last of her ashes somewhere.

He's tried to convince me that I shouldn't be bothered by the ashes as they are just a good reason to travel to beautiful places. Thing is he doesn't need a reason to travel. He LOVES traveling already and used to work for the airlines so he can travel cheaply. He's also retired so once the world opens up, he can travel freely and cheaply.

He also told me that the little bit of ashes he has at his vacation house are a comfort because I can't be with him all the time. When I asked him about that, he said that's not what he meant. Yet.........that's exactly what he said.

These guys need time to process their grief. So, please be careful. Make sure you're not living some other woman's life. Live YOUR life and be careful not to get too caught up in being a hero to that little boy. You could end up being very deeply hurt.

KirstyMaire's picture

Me and my partner have a good relationship, which I think is because we've also been friends for years. In the beginning, I had my doubts about the relationship working as he took a lot of his grief out on me, he'd say the same things like "I didn't mean it like that" But deep down I knew he did. The relationship did happen too soon and we both knew it did. 

Now we are a lot stronger than we were at the beginning and it definitely wasn't easy to get to where we are now. We have been talking about getting married and having kids of our own, and our future. We decided to wait until SS is in full-time school before we think about having another one, mainly so we can both enjoy them being little. 

He still gets emotional at times, but a lot of that I think is down to the guilt even though it wasn't his fault. He blames himself for not being there to stop it and I know a lot of her family are still hurting too. I get on well with a lot of BM's side of the family now. They have all apologized for things that were said. Even though I knew a lot of it was more the fact they were hurting rather than hate for me. 

Winterglow's picture

When someone decides to end it all, there is little you can do to stop them. He might have been able to head off that particular attempt but being there all the time to be sure she didn't try again and stop her every time just isn't realistic. Couild that be why he wants to stay near his mother? Just in case something "happens"? Doesn't he trust her to call an ambulance? He has to understand that he can't be everyone's knight in shining armour. He can't spend his life living for the "what ifs". He needs to look to the future and that is difficult to do when you're looking back over your shoulder all the time ...

futurobrillante99's picture

"We decided to wait until SS is in full-time school before we think about having another one, mainly so we can both enjoy them being little."

I'm not sure how old you are, but this statement doesn't make sense. If you're a stay at home mom, now, why would you have to wait to have your own children. Waiting would prolong your time out of the workplace.

If you ask me, this sounds like a stall tactic. You do realize that once his son is in school full time, he won't need a babysitter any longer. He could burn up a couple more years of your life only to decide he doesn't want to get married or have more children.

I really do think that he means well, but may not be very honest with himself. RIGHT NOW, you check a lot of boxes and make his life easier. Once his son is in school, you will be less useful and then you'll be wanting marriage and a child of your own. I wouldn't be surprised if he changes his mind on both.

There is no reason to wait for marriage and another baby if you're already at home with his son. Honey, I'm worried you're going to get your heart broken.

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I suggest SO goes to counseling, not only to deal with his grief. But it's sounds like his mother is a toxic person which may be the reason he ended up in a relationship with a toxic person.

He needs to recognize what these relationships are and learn to set healthy boundaries for himself.