Revelations of a new mother and re-evaluating my stepmother role.
FDH told me back when I was pregnant: "I know you will love our child more than you love SS or SD. The only thing I want you to promise me is that they'll never know the difference." This has sort of haunted me since having my baby in February.
I feel like the dust has settled and I've finally "figured out" what my life is now. We've fallen into a routine. Being a mom is so natural to me that I can hardly remember life before my little one. I love him so much I actually get spasms of excitement playing with him or cuddling him, and I can't wait at the end of the work day to see him. I don't even mind changing his diapers because our time on his changing table has become special to me.
Yet all these good feelings are clouded by the fact that I don't have any of those for the skids...and I never really have (this isn't a new thing since having my child). I don't get excited when we're about to have them. I dread picking them up from daycare. And I feel SO GUILTY about this realization.
When I first entered the picture, I wanted to be everything to those kids that their BM was not. I knew I would never replace their “Mommy” but I wanted to be someone they looked up to, could talk to, had fun with, and truly loved and respected. I believed that our relationship would some day be "better" than their relationship with their mother. Gradually, it all just wore on me. No matter how hard I tried the skids were more excited to see their mom than ever...and they IDOLIZE her. They idolize the woman whose faults are so blaringly obvious to me and FDH. They idolize the woman who puts herself first repeatedly, who lies to her children, and who ships them off to any babysitter or grandma at every chance she gets. I think it all just starts to wear on you when you are trying so hard...so I just stopped trying. I stopped being the fun stepmom and only took care of the basic needs. I didn't get down and play with them or anything...and it's increasingly grown more and more "un-fun" having them around.
Last fall I posted a blog on here about dealing with SS3. It seemed we were facing a never-ending battle trying to get him to do anything for himself. BM has notoriously been his little slave – to this day she still helps him get dressed, puts him in his seat and buckles him, puts his dirty dishes away, etc. I now realize most of my annoyance/anger towards SS3 and his unwillingness to even TRY to do anything himself was just my own annoyance at BM’s parenting. Someone (Sorry I can’t remember who) said to me that when I have my own children I will have more patience with things like this. When they’re your own kids, you give them more ‘leeway’ because you’ve been with them every step of the way – watched them take their first steps, etc. I can’t remember how she put it but the idea of it has resonated in me since then. I recently put that into perspective. When SS3 is doing something that used to make my blood boil, I try to picture him as my own son. I ask myself, “What would I do if it were BS doing this?” I have found 100 times more control over my own emotions and patience.
I've decided I need to be a BETTER stepmom to my skids. I need to push aside my own resentments and angers and do what's best for our FAMILY, because that is what we are. Maybe I can fake it til I make it. I've been separated both physically and emotionally from the skids for many months now (the intense fatigue of winter and late pregnancy, then caring for a newborn while FDH goes out and plays with the skids) and I kind of realized that if I don't do something to RE-ENGAGE with them, I'm going to lose out on a relationship that I initially wanted with them. I can picture our future as it stands right now, and what I see I don't like.
I have realized that I can’t place my anger towards BM on the skids. I have learned to recognize this and I’m working on stopping it. I know that a lot of their behavior issues are because of the way that BM parents...but I can’t let anger get in the way of teaching them how to act in OUR house. I DO need to treat them like I would my own son -- with a loving and patient guiding hand.
In the past few weeks, I’ve made more attempts to be physically loving with the skids. They are young. They won’t know that I’m trying so hard...but maybe this will make a difference. And maybe someday soon it won’t be “trying”...it will just be natural.
Like FDH said, I will always love my own son "more" but the skids should never know that.