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Revelations of a new mother and re-evaluating my stepmother role.

SteppingUp's picture

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 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” will just be natural.

Like FDH said, I will always love my own son "more" but the skids should never know that.


herewegoagain's picture

Ask him if he loves your nieces or nephews the same as he loves his bio-kids...the answer will be no...

By the way, even in intact families kids ALWAYS say "mom or dad preferred such and such"...that is just something that happens...I don't understand why smoms are held to a different standard...

You have a good attitude, and I do wish you the best...congrats on your baby.

SteppingUp's picture

He knows I won't love them the same, that's what he said...

And you are totally right. No matter how hard we try for the equal thing there's always going to be some issues whether step-related or not -- mom always let brother do this or that, or sister always got to ___. Great point and I do need to keep that in mind too!

anyha's picture

He is a little unfair to you. And, you shouldn't feel guilty if you love your own child more than children who quite plainly are not yours. No matter what you do for them, they are not yours. You will never have the same rights as their parents have, the same responsibilities. In fact, sm's trying to mother children who are not theirs is usually why bm's freak out so much.

I saved a few comments i really liked to always remind me of the role as SM.

"Overstepping involves demanding a role in the child's life that belongs to the child's actual parent. Treating the child like an equal member of the family is something entirely different.

There’s a HUGE difference between treating the children equally when they're in the household and EXPECTING equal standing in the child's life."

All you have to do is treat them equal. Same rules for everyone. You will never love them in the same way as your own child, this is human basic nature and it is OK. You don't need to feel bad about it.

I had loads of brothers/sisters. Even though non were "steps" my parents still had to deal with us thinking one was more loved than the others. This mean, if you buy 1 bunny, you buy 5 bunnies. lol as much as that felt unfair as a child. (to earn something and have everyone else get it too) As an adult i completely understand why it had to be done. When dealing with my neices/nephews i have to buy everything in bulk. Buy a cute necklace for 1 neice, you need to send one to all or hope the others don't hear about it!

SteppingUp's picture

I don't think he's being unfair, he's just saying that they should all get equal treatment in our house.

I do agree with you that most BM's freak out when steps are overstepping the parenting boundaries and I don't intend to do that. I've just realized that I've gone in the opposite direction of the kind of person I want the skids to see me as...and I'm working on changing that.

hismineandours's picture

Try not to take the bm idolization personally. It is a biological, natural sort of thing and is in no way connected to her great ability to be a mom or your supposed failings as a stepmom. They have a bond that is very special (as you know now with your own child). Mom's are not interchangeable parts in the way that many adults interchange their spouses. It doesnt matter if you are the best stepmom in the entire world-bm will still have something special with her children that you will never have. And that's ok.

You are not skids mom so your relationship with them is going to be different than the one that you have with your own child. Sometimes I dont know why men are so stupid that they dont get this. And I think the big thing is to know that it is OK that your relationship is different-it is NOT a bad thing. In fact the more you try to act as a mother-the more likely they are to push you away as it creates loyalty conflicts with most children and they will ultimately be loyal to their attachment figure-the bm. I think that is where alot of things fail. Our dh's and sometimes, we ourselves, think it is wrong or bad if we feel differently for our skids. But that is how it is supposed to work-if you made a maternal bond to every child that you spent time with then think how difficult it would be to provide proper resources (love, finances, affection, attention)to all those children you bonded with.

If you care about your skids, treat them with respect then that should really be enough. They are not going to treat you with the same love that they treat their mother-so they instinctively already know the relationship is different-you can allow yourself just to be a kind, supportive adult in their life. If loves comes later on then that's just an awesome bonus.

SteppingUp's picture

I totally know what you mean and I really didn't want it to come across that I wanted to replace BM in any way. I think when I first stepped into this role there was some naive thought in the back of my mind that maybe some day I'd be closer to the kids because my relationship with them would be more positive...but I completely understand that they will always be connected and love their mother despite her we all do with our parents. And of course, like you said, I understand that relationship even better now.

Thank you for the support and reiterating that I don't need to feel guilty about these feelings! It feels like such a balancing act all the time.

Auteur's picture

He is definitely unrealistic in his expectations. Of course you can't love them "in the same way." Love the point about asking him if he loves your nieces or nephews the same as his own children.

The "one big happy family" model is a MYTH and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. Don't let H make you feel guilty about it either.

overwhelmed_underappreciated's picture

Wow... many of your feeling toward your skid(s) really resound with me... Im about to give birth to my first child as well and I am struggling with how I am going to handle two young children that are not mine (17 mo and 3 yo now) as well as a newborn. Not sure if I am going to be seeing much of my skids for a while b/c BM has decided that because of me DH doesnt get to spend as much time with them anymore... I think this is a temporary thing b/c she is mad at the moment but regardless I know that I struggle with handling the nonsense from her and the results of her pathetic parenting. I so not want my SDs to feel as though I dont love them as much or that they arent as important but I also worry that because BM is limiting their contact with DH that he will feel much more attached to our daughter than to his previous 2. My dad and I were talking about this the other day and he feels that DH is going to get sick and tired of the games that BM is playing and end up just giving up on seeing the older 2 children and just focus all of his time and energy on our child. I almost feel as though I am cheating the kids out of their father even tho I am not the one that makes the decisions regarding visitation and the such.

What is DH does get tired of BM and her bs and quits fighting for them?? How is that going to affect them, him, our daughter, our relationship, and myself?? Is having my own child going to make me love skids less??

I plan on keeping an eye on your blogs to see how things are going for you...maybe it can help me make this transition...

SteppingUp's picture

Aww, I feel for you. Things will definitely take awhile to feel "normal" for you, as it did for me. Well I can't say it feels normal yet but we're settling in to our routine. I do feel bad for SS3 sometimes that he isn't with us all the time and that my BS gets to spend every day with his daddy. But I have to remember that SS3 HAS a mother that he loves very much and sees on those other days so we can't feel so guilty. It's just how life is.

As for your SO 'giving up' on his kids I really hope he doesn't. Try to be supportive of his relationships with them and getting visitation back. Why is BM just able to limit his contact? Is there not a court order?? If not he should definitely get one. It's not good for kids to be randomly taken away from a parent and for the other parent to use her children as pawns to spite the other parent! A judge would look down on that completely! He should definitely speak to the enforcement agency and see what he can do.

I just keep trying to look ahead and kind of keep my eye on the prize -- hoping one day our relationships and our blended family will seem normal. You have to remember that blended families ARE normal these days. Doesn't mean it's easy and I'm expecting these first years to be difficult as our lives change.