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Why is being a step-mom so hard?

SubstituteMommy's picture

I could think of countless reasons why being a step-mom is so hard, so I will just list a few! You often feel unheard and unappreciated. Dealing with a problematic BM can be emotionally and mentally draining. You cannot love a step-kid the way that you love your own kids (even though many people expect you to). It's not easy feeling like you never come first to your SO. You can do a lot, work hard, be supportive, and love as much as you can, but you still won't get the credit that you deserve.

I'm just curious to see what others have to say!

Comments

Kes's picture

Having to deal with a Disney Dad!  Thankfully my DH doesn't do this any more.  I disengaged so I was quite lonely EOW when he would take the SDs on all sorts of outings and even once a foreign holiday, without me - admittedly my choice not to go. The rudeness from the SDs, particularly at the dinner table which was the only time I'd sit down with them.  The fact that DH did not get on their case over the rudeness, certainly not to the degree I would have wished. As you mentioned, dealing with a high conflict NPD BM.  Some of the other things you said, I couldn't relate to though, as I would never expect to love my SKIDs, I didn't even like them, and certainly did little for them, nor did I expect or want any credit.  

shamds's picture

my husband would instead of holding his kids (2 who are adults) accountable for rude disrespectful actions choose to turn a blind eye and take them to family events whilst i stayed home (my choice because his kids are so rude, disrespectful and unbearably unpleasant) sd’s rant non stop of bio mum and step dad as in to show how unimportant i am and i was expected to suck it up instead of my husband manning up and telling his daughters to shut up and stop ranting about bio mum and stepdad as they are unimportant to hubby now

Eventually a year after I firmly disengaged hubby told off his eldest daughter how rude and out of line she was doing this. Know what she said to her dad?? “I’m sorry if i did anything wrong, I didn’t know i did”

these are asian kids and manners, respect for people older than you is like one of the most important things in their culture and she claimed she didn’t know any better. They have never apologized to me and act so depressed when i am around at family events, like they need and should have daddy all to themselves and don’t like how my husband cuddles our 2 little kids. At least my in-laws distract me from skids shitty behaviour and they’re always keeping an eye because they see the crappy behaviour of theirs all the time

SubstituteMommy's picture

I wish that I could say that I do (and have done) little for SD. Being the only consistent and regularly present maternal figure in her life, I stepped in and took the role on when she was four and it's only now that she is nearing ten that I feel like I went about things the wrong way.

Iamwoman's picture

1. Society. Mothers get blamed for so much while fathers seem to be praised just for existing. Add the "step" in front of "mother," and those expectations and judgements by society increase exponentially.

2. Paradox. Stepmothers are damned if we do and damned if we don't. For skids, if we try, we are "trying too hard," and if we don't try we are "the bitch BM always said we are." For DH, if we do too much, we are "overstepping our bounds," and if we do too little, it's all "whaaat?? You're not making dinnner toniight??" ...and forget about BMs - they puppeteer the paradox.

3. Home sweet Hotel. Whether we are the type of SM who feels like a guest in our own home, or the type who sees skids as unwelcome guests in our home, it's awkward either way. Our home should be our sanctuary, and more often than not, for SMs, it feels like an AirBnB for escaped juvenile delinquents.

4. Money, Some of us turn a blind eye; some freak out regularly; some compensate; some become trapped; some feel it's just an irritation. No matter what though, it's hard to watch a significant portion of our DH's income, intercepted and deposited into the "Oops family's" account, knowing that for most of us, it's not actually spent on skid needs.

5. Uncertainty. Will they launch? Will they disappear? Will they mooch forever? Will they ALWAYS create drama? With a bio family, we have a greater amount of influence and control over these outcomes as we are better able to shape healthy psyches for our children, and offer appropriate milestones and healthy growing and learning experiences. For stepmothers though, our step kids' future outcomes are completely out of our  realm of influence. For many of us, our step kids' biggest role model is a useless, crazy, "victim-mentality" whore. ...so of course we fret over the future. As our magic 8 ball used to say: "Outlook not good."

Kes's picture

Your #2 brought back a memory.  When my SDs were in their mid teens or so, I remember DH relating a conversation to me he'd had with them, to the effect that they and NPD BM felt that I should "try harder" with the SDs - show some interest in them etc.   By that time she and they had already ruined a decade of my life, so I think you can imagine what my ungracious response was to that gambit!  As far as showing interest was concerned - well it works both ways, huh?  I don't think any of them ever even knew what I did for a living, let alone anything about me as a person.  I don't think either of the SDs has ever asked me anything about me or my life. 

Iamwoman's picture

Ugh. Reminds me of "AlreadyGone83's" skid, who said last week that she wants AG to "be more of a mom" to her.

You know what?

They don't want us to be ACTUALLY interested, or act like ACTUAL mothers (offering our opinions, laying down rules and consequences).

When these POS skids and BMs say they want us to "show more interest," that is code for "We want SM to adore us unquestioningly, spend ALL of her money on us, and let us all use and abuse her to our satisfaction."

I'm sure the creepy guy in the white van ("FREE CANDY" in sharpie on the side), would like children to "show more interest in him" too...

Some people's ideas of "more interest" are neither healthy nor good.

strugglingSM's picture

Oh yes, DH always gets the demands that he "show more interest", but really the interest BM wants her to show is interest that she is controlling or interest that benefits her (like DH paying for things, she's supposed to pay for). When DH tries to "show interest" that BM doesn't agree with or that BM feels threated by (i.e. doing things with the kids that they enjoy), she tries to block that interest. It's a no-win game with these personality-disordered women. 

She used to cry to DH that I needed to treat the kids like my own, but now she doesn't even mention my name, because I ignore her and I haven't budged on that in five years. 

Skids barely know anything about me, because they never asked. One SS asked what I did once, but I think that's because he was on a fishing expedition for BM, who was trying to figure out my salary before a mediation. 

Gimlet's picture

This sums it up so nicely!

I will add one more.

6. The disparity in experience for many stepdads.  My DD loves my DH and unlike Kes's experience (and mine), she knows him and asks questions and cares about how he is doing.   I'm not sure the skids see me as a whole, actual person because they are not whole, actual people.  There have been times my DH has tried to use his relationship with DD as a guideline and I've had to break it down for him.  Because he didn't have a victim BM who relentlessly talked shit about him and created loyalty binds, or kids with no resilience who learned to be victims,  or kids with low motivation and no desire to form a relationship with him.   And he can speak his mind with DD and she can handle it, unlike the stilted relationship I've always had with his kids.  Apples and oranges. 

Kes's picture

Absolutely.  My two daughters were polite and kind to DH from the outset, and my ExH treated him with respect also.  I think in the early years my DH thought I was, not fussing over nothing exactly, but exaggerating the issues because from his point of view, being a stepfather was easy and pleasant!  

advice.only2's picture

I agree and will add that also comes from allowing your child to have a healthy relationship with their step. Most skids are not allowed to, either by BM's screeching to hate the SM or by the DH's inability to allow a relationship to happen naturally with his children.

I mean how many women on here have felt like their DH's shove skids down their throats in the hopes they will just love them as much as they do? And it never works, because the relationship can't grow organically. Instead daddy is always lurking in the background interfering every time.

SubstituteMommy's picture

Yes! Apples and oranges. Step-dads truly have it different. That is exactly why my post is step-mom specific. It's a different world with different expectations and different treatment from all involved.

ldvilen's picture

This is hilarious! “Our home should be our sanctuary, and more often than not, for SMs, it feels like an AirBnB for escaped juvenile delinquents.”  I also completely agree with what you say about Uncertainty, and I feel this is often overlooked when it comes to the ever-growing list of Why being a SM is so hard.  As you say, for SMs, “. . .our step kids' future outcomes are completely out of our realm of influence.”

These are all examples of things that we are supposed to suck it up and take for someone else’s divorce or children-of-divorce, if you want to say it that way.  And, even to this day after being a SM for 20 years and on this site for about 5 years, I am always confounded by how issues that are truly marital issues, get so quickly convoluted into being about the kids, or poor-little-kids, I should say.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know divorce is hell for kids, but how does that translate into I’m supposed to not have any qualms and not stand in the way of my DH’s 19 YO son (or, even 17 YO) moving in with us temp. or permanently?  Or, at adult SKs’ weddings, I’m supposed to sit in the back of the church, not go anywhere near my DH, and not appear in any pictures whatsoever, after my DH and I have been married for 10+ years?

None of these issues, and so many more that SMs too-often get called out on for “trying to take BM’s place,” has anything to do with BM and DH’s kids, really.  They are marital issues, regarding husband and wife.  H & W get to decide together who stays with them and husbands and wives always sit together at special and family events.  Who the h- got to decide that long-held, never-before-questioned rules suddenly change just because so-and-so got a divorce!?  I don’t get that at all and never will because it is all about SM being expected to kowtow to everyone and everything regarding what the initial family wants.  It is little to nothing to do with, “For the kids’ sake.” 

Iamwoman's picture

It's all just a result of the "Oops family" trying to convince the world that they were not a mistake. 

If they can get more resources out of your DH than you, they convince themselves they are more important than you, and not a mistake.

If they can successfully relegate you to Omega position in DH's life (which I see happen with many on this site), they can convince themselves they are still Alpha to DH.

People generally don't like to admit to their own flaws or mistakes (the basis for confirmation bias), and since divorce traditionally was a huge social "no-no," these BPD BMs have no boundaries when it comes to convincing themselves and others they were not the mistakes. To them, SMs are simply either an obstacle or a tool to that agenda.

I couldn't care less if HCBD thinks I was a mistake. He was a huge mistake for me! I do believe he made a mistake in choosing me too - I'm just not trashy enough for him.

I suspect that BMs who already have low self esteem and secretly know our DH's were out of their league, are the ones who wreak havoc in step hell. 
It's interesting that they are quixotically only further proving to the world what a mistake they were.

There really is no other logical explanation for the Oops-family to obsess over our DH's, us, and our successful families so much.

SubstituteMommy's picture

This is perfectly worded. I am sure that most of the step-moms reading this can relate to most, if not all, of those points. You hit the nail on the head!

justmakingthebest's picture

The total lack of control. 

I know that I am a control freak, type A person. I know that is both good and bad in my marriage. I take control and make sure that things happen. DH is great as my back up/support. 

When it comes to SS, my hands are tied. DH's hands are tied. I can't even be his support for so many things because it is always just waiting on the next court date so that something can be ordered and BM can ignore it and then we are back to court again. We can't just say- YES BM- THIS IS HOW IT WILL BE. 

Being 1300 miles away doesn't help us either. 

SubstituteMommy's picture

I am a control freak, too! Total Type A ever since childhood. I understand how and why it makes being a step-mom even harder than it already is. The struggle is real.

tog redux's picture

Crazy BMs and Family Court appearances. I've been in Family Court tons of times as a professional, and it was mortifying to be there repeatedly in my personal life, hanging out with the masses in their ripped sweatpants, tube tops and flip-flops, all because BM wants attention from DH and can't co-parent. 
 

Obviously, I didn't have to go, but I did it to support DH. 

Iamwoman's picture

Good one!!

I feel embarrassed in family court as well. You bring up an interesting point Tog ...I've always wondered why everytime I make an appearance in a family courthouse, I'm the only one (besides the attorneys) in a modest business suit and heels?

I have to add onto this though:

I am utterly embarrassed to even be associated (by way of skids) to Maggot Queen and her extended family. I can't wait until the day skids age out, we move and can pretend that we don't even know these people.

tog redux's picture

Yes, DH and BM would both usually be the nicest dressed people in the waiting room.

Because usually professionals (and non-professionals) solve their own divorce issues without court involvement, but not if they have personality disorders. The people in family court are not usually the functional members of society - women who have to drag their deadbeat baby daddies into court to get Child Support paid, or violate them because they aren't paying, and those deadbeat baby daddies themselves.

Once I was there and the woman next to me was calling the Parole office to report someone who was wanted.

And it was extra hard for me because some of the people in the court know me from my job, so if I saw them I had to duck, cover or lie that I was there on a case.

UGH. So demeaning. Thanks BM.

advice.only2's picture

Or the father's get dragged into court by the worthless mother's who never have to pay CS.

advice.only2's picture

Agreed. DH would always dress nicely, as would Meth Mouth, but her twitching, and sniffling and inability to sit still or form a coherent sentence was usually what gave her away as a tweaker/meth addict.

SubstituteMommy's picture

I know what you mean. We have been to court way too many times and I am always floored by the appearance of so many people in the court room. Once, there was a young woman with pajama pants on, wrapped in a blanket. A BLANKET! BM always looks ridiculous when we've gone to court. I feel so out of place in that environment.

Liza89's picture

To be able to switch off your emotions is really damn hard, and be expected to because god forbid if you have a tone in your voice that might offend DH or Skids. 

To try and parent in your home to only get slammed with 'But mummy does this, or Daddy said we could have that' every god damn time. 

Also, hearing 'Daddy, Daddy, Daddy' at the start of every sentence whenever one of them wants to say something which completely shuts you out of the conversation to begin with and it be so irritating! 

And the internal struggle of keeping the poker face when SD does her fake, loud, girlish giggle whenever she's cuddled by DH. You feel so awkward witnessing it, that you keep yourself looking busy or just exit a room so you don't barf. 

And trying really hard not to comment your true thoughts of what you would like to say about BM to the skids. Instead you strain a smile and walk off really wishing you could tell them the truth about what a piece of work she really is. You wonder why us SM's self medicate on wine drinking haha. 

 

SubstituteMommy's picture

"And the internal struggle of keeping the poker face when SD does her fake, loud, girlish giggle whenever she's cuddled by DH. You feel so awkward witnessing it, that you keep yourself looking busy or just exit a room so you don't barf."

I completely understand that one. LOL! It's sickening, isn't it? Thankfully, the older that SD has gotten, the less I have had to deal with those nauseating moments.

ldvilen's picture

Like the lovely Wednesday Martin says, "There are external forces, most beyond a stepmother's control, that may undermine her good intentions and best efforts with his children. These factors include loyalty binds, a child's jealousy and resentment, the Ex Factor, permissive parenting, cultural expectations about women and children, and a phenomenon called conflict by proxy."

SubstituteMommy's picture

No clue who Wednesday Martin is, but it sounds like she knows what she's talking about!

Eve-Bee's picture

I agree with all points! By my horrible step experience, I would also add: No matter how much time and effort DH and you put into giving your stepdaughter a healthy and nice childhood in your home, in the end, she will be an exact copy of BM. All your efforts result in living with a person with a terrible personality that you would avoid by all means if it were anyone else than your SD. (and you should avoid SD too; actually, it should be first on the list of taking care of your health, before eating healthy, exercising and taking your vitamins)

Also, all your good intentions, qualities, and values, will be used against you in a sick game to exploit you. 

Until you get rid of her as a grown-up, then you know that a purely evil creature is on the loose, making the world more ugly just by being in it. 

(ha,ha do I sound bitter.. I wonder why?)

SubstituteMommy's picture

I am certain that your response is exactly what I will be saying in a matter of a few years. That's so sad and so scary.

Merry's picture

For me, I resent being seen as an appendage to DH. Even by DH. When skids are around, I have no opinions, no preferences, no feelings, no interests. Oh, but I do have money. There's that.

SubstituteMommy's picture

I'm sorry. I've found that having feelings of resentment is a common theme in being a step-mom. It's a hard pill to swallow.

MurphysLaw's picture

In a nutshell....

9 outta 10 times...A woman is involved/married to a fecked up man.

Yes, all these AMAZING SOULMATES are feck ups, they bred with feck ups and had fecked up kids.

Not satisfied or man enough with being alone to deal with their fecked up previous "family" they search out another victim to join the fun

and 9 outta 10 times that woman has her own fecked up issues which are now tripled by joining "The Family" .

Remedy:

DONT GET INVOLVED WITH A MAN WITH CHILDREN OF ANY AGE

SubstituteMommy's picture

"...they search out another victim to join the fun"

Very true! So fecking messed up, too! Not getting involved with a man that has children of any age is the best advice that anyone could find on this site. Period.

missginger's picture

WOW! A few of you wrote exactly what I would have written! Escpecially Iamwoman!! I have experienced all of these:

*It's not easy feeling like you never come first to your SO.

*Paradox. Stepmothers are damned if we do and damned if we don't. For skids, if we try, we are "trying too hard," and if we don't try we are "the bitch BM always said we are." For DH, if we do too much, we are "overstepping our bounds," and if we do too little, it's all "whaaat?? You're not making dinnner toniight??" .

* Home sweet Hotel. Whether we are the type of SM who feels like a guest in our own home, or the type who sees skids as unwelcome guests in our home, it's awkward either way. Our home should be our sanctuary, and more often than not, for SMs, it feels like an AirBnB for escaped juvenile delinquents.

*Uncertainty. Will they launch? Will they disappear? Will they mooch forever? Will they ALWAYS create drama? With a bio family, we have a greater amount of influence and control over these outcomes as we are better able to shape healthy psyches for our children, and offer appropriate milestones and healthy growing and learning experiences. For stepmothers though, our step kids' future outcomes are completely out of our  realm of influence. For many of us, our step kids' biggest role model is a useless, crazy, "victim-mentality" whore. ...so of course we fret over the future. As our magic 8 ball used to say: "Outlook not good."

*Most skids are not allowed to, either by BM's screeching to hate the SM or by the DH's inability to allow a relationship to happen naturally with his children. I mean how many women on here have felt like their DH's shove skids down their throats in the hopes they will just love them as much as they do? And it never works, because the relationship can't grow organically. Instead daddy is always lurking in the background interfering every time.

*To be able to switch off your emotions is really damn hard, and be expected to because god forbid if you have a tone in your voice that might offend DH or Skids. 

*The internal struggle of keeping the poker face when SD does her fake, loud, girlish giggle whenever she's cuddled by DH. You feel so awkward witnessing it, that you keep yourself looking busy or just exit a room so you don't barf. 

 

Cover1W's picture

Pretty much this.  The expectation that everything we say and do is supposed to be "perfect" - but we have no idea what that is because no one is perfect and much of the time, we're only doing well as SMs if we cook, clean, shop, taxi, and entertain skids.  Note:  not a parent, but still expected to somehow be a parent.

 

Gimlet's picture

I had a talk with my DH recently because he got defensive over a very normal and human reaction I had involving YSS.  I refuse, REFUSE, to not be allowed to be human in my own home.   I refuse to be held to a higher standard than the skids' actual mother who curses at them and calls them names, but I am not allowed to express normal annoyance.  NO. F*CKING. WAY. 

Can you tell how much this bugs me? 

SubstituteMommy's picture

"not a parent, but still expected to somehow be a parent

Yes, yes, yes! What a horrible reality.

Maxwell09's picture

Expectations....our expectations and the expectations of others and the reality of the situation are never the same. That is hard to deal with no matter how great your skid, dh or even bm is. 

strugglingSM's picture

I agree with the above and will add one that I've been struggling with lately. 

Having to accept people into your nuclear family who have vastly different values than you do. My Skids are lazy, entitled, rude...things I would never accept from my own children. Right now, they are doing absolutely no schoolwork. They are with us four days a month, so there is limited opportunity to influence them and when DH says anything to them, it becomes a big drama fest with BM. As an example, several years ago, he told both SSs that he expected them both to do all their homework every day, and BM turned it into a dramafest about how DH was always being critical and thought the kids were stupid. 

I have to turn the other way through all of this (the school one really kills me, I come from a family of educators and learning was never optional in my home) and pretend as if it doesn't matter, while also treating SSs like they are part of my family. As someone who has always valued integrity, this is hard. I feel like I'm also compromising myself big time. 

I realize this is also a DH problem. One SS - a teen - regularly has temper tantrums if he doesn't get his way and DH just tries to calm him down and will often give him what he wants, instead of telling him that this behavior is unacceptable. 

I spoke at length about this to my counselor this week and her only advice was that maybe it was good if I didn't spend much time with SSs. Easier said than done, because they come to my home twice a month! I'm just hoping that once everything opens up again, overly-dramatic SS will decide he doesn't want to come to our home anymore. 

SubstituteMommy's picture

"Having to accept people into your nuclear family who have vastly different values than you do."

I completely agree with you. SD couldn't be more different from my children. I would never allow my children to act the way that SD does. I have felt that way from the very beginning. She was only four years old, and I already knew that I didn't want my children to act like her, EVER!

youdonotdefineme's picture

It's like running an airbnb as was said above.  Except an airbnb with staff on hand and DH is the staff and on the whole they are nice to the staff but have to make sure the staff know that he isn't quite giving a 5 star experience. 

And the staff over the years is not even trying to offer 3 star anymore because even 3 stars is unappreciated.

At least DH sees and feels for himself why I quit the staff several years ago.

Fedupmama's picture

I'm currently in the "hotel" phase or the bed and breakfast. I wish I could cook up a meal and leave the mess for someone else to clean up! Or at least have the super power of being able to tolerate living in a pig sty. I've tried to walk past that piece of wrapper that magically landed on the stairs just to see how many days it would take for someone else to notice and possibly have the thought of "oh, that's a wrapper from something I was eating, I should put that in the trash bin because the stairs aren't exactly a trash bin". And then a string of swears and yelling flies out of my mouth when I can't stand to look at it anymore. It always reminds me of the Eddie Murphy Delirious shtick about the petrified piece of dog sh!+ on the floor he refers to as a piece of furniture you can set your drink on! 

They also think toilet paper just refills itself, or the hotel staff (me) will do it. I've noticed the roll was empty in the main bathroom prior to using it (a skill I picked up on from being a female and needing it regardless, everytime), and used my ensuite bathroom until it was refilled. During that time oldest SS took a dump, not sure how the end of that chapter went, but hopefully one of them has gained some life knowledge. 

Liza89's picture

Don't get me started on the Skids with the damn toilet. I find poo and wee in it constantly not flushed and NO TOILET PAPER used. So when I do the washing I throw out soiled underwear constantly. The toilet roll when used is just used way too much and never gets replaced. Plus when the kids come back from BM's they are wearing small and faded underwear with stains in them, and the fresh new ones we buy I never see again. 
This could all be avoided if they just bloody wipe their butts with toilet paper and flush the damn toilet to keep it clean! End rant. 

SubstituteMommy's picture

SD is the only person in my home who has constant skidmarks in her underwear. She is almost ten. My children have never had this problem. I wonder when it's going to end.

SubstituteMommy's picture

I feel like my SO will forever try to win over SD regardless of how much ugliness she shows him. At the young age of nine, she has already made it clear that she has no attachment to anyone. Everyone is dispesible to her, yet my SO tries and tries and tries, and I think he always will. You're lucky that your DH sees it and has dumbed down his efforts.