Confessions of a Stepmom :: Part 2

Confessions of A StepMomI’ve been toying with the idea of a follow-up to this post for a while, but I haven’t been sure if I should go there. I considered trashing the whole idea because as a stepmom, I often feel like I’m trying to overcompensate and validate myself as a real “parent.” Only other stepparents can truly understand that – it’s almost an inferiority complex.  I imagine that other people think I’m somehow a lesser parent to my stepkids because I didn’t give birth to them.  I agonize over making sure that my stepchildren know I love them with my whole heart – because I do.  And, because of those things, I have always been terrified to voice my feelings about the sacrifices I’ve made or say anything that could be construed as a complaint. There is enough negativity surrounding stepparenting without adding fuel to the fire!  I would never want to say anything that could even be construed as not wanting my stepchildren in my life, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

But that doesn’t change the fact that many of us made {and continue to make} real personal sacrifices to live the stepparent life.  

We love our stepchildren fiercely and would do it all over again! But it’s still hard not to think about some of the things I gave up at times, especially when the going gets tough:

A life of firsts together.

Sometimes, I feel a little sad that my husband and I didn’t get to share in so many “firsts” together.  My dream wedding was the advent of his second marriage. He knew more about labor and delivery than I did (I guess that’s what happens when you’re on kids 4 and 5!), and he already owned a home when we got married.  Sometimes I feel a little deprived being unable to share these experiences (and all the fear, joy, and promise they held) together.

THE FLIPSIDE :: Of course, his experiences do also have some benefits!  For example, my husband has SO MUCH MORE PERSPECTIVE than I do.  When we got married, he knew just where it was worthwhile to spend some extra money and where to hold off.  When we had our first baby together, he knew just what baby items were actually useful, and which were sold just to sucker new moms into opening their wallets.  I think a lot of these experiences were less stressful for me because he did, in fact, have a valuable opinion based on experience.  When I start remembering the “firsts” I missed out on, it also helps to remind myself of all the “firsts” we have enjoyed together, too – from visiting new places together, raising a teenager, building a house, and starting a business.  Our life together is as much an adventure as anyone’s else’s; our story just began a little differently.

A life of being the wife, not the new wife.

Because I’m a stepmom to school-aged kids, there was a time when I first became involved in our church and school that I was just “the new wife.”  I suddenly found myself interacting on a daily basis with people who’d known my husband’s ex and kids longer than I had.  It was tough not getting to let these people get to know me more organically, and sometimes I worried I would never really “fit in.”

THE FLIPSIDE :: Now that I’ve been around for nearly eight years, I feel more than accepted.  Some teachers have even had all three of our older children pass through their classrooms and can’t wait for my little ones to have the same teachers as their older siblings!  I enjoy a strange role in which I’m one of the youngest veteran parents in our school, with one child who is already a high school freshman and another about to enter preschool.  I’ve made friends with an awesome group of moms and we have girls’ nights where we can share stories about the trials of having teens and pre-teens – something I still can’t really do with my friends who just finished their first round of “firsts.”  And, having gone through all of this so many times already, I’m sure that I’ll be an old pro and teenagers won’t be a big deal by the time I’m on kids four and five…right?!  (Okay, maybe too optimistic.)

A life without sharing.

I want our kids to see their mom and their stepdad – I really do.  They need that connection, and I completely get and respect that.  But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t really disappointing when we don’t have them for a special event or holiday.  Little prickles of jealousy creep in sometimes when I see my friends enjoying every Christmas morning with their kids, rather than picking them up from a Quik Trip in the middle of the day.

THE FLIPSIDE :: Not having the kids for every holiday or special event has given me so much perspective.  Sometimes, we celebrate a holiday or birthday days later. That’s okay, because it’s taught me that it isn’t so much about the holiday itself as it is enjoying time with the ones you love – whenever it happens.

A life without competing or comparing.  

Guys, the struggle is real on this one.  Even if you don’t want to go all Daddy’s Home as a stepparent, the urge to do so can sneak up on you.

THE FLIPSIDE :: In a blended family, you get a glimpse into someone else’s life and parenting style.  After all, that household is a part of the kids’ lives, so it’s only natural that they’ll share details about the other’s household – from what brand of milk one buys to whether Santa wraps his presents there.  This had its advantages, too, because it reminds me that there is more than one way to skin a cat (or raise a kid).

A life without someone else’s roots.  

When I was younger, I often dreamed of moving away from boring, flat Kansas – until I grew up and realized it’s AWESOME.  That said, there is something confining about losing that possibility of leaving.  Because we would never move so far from the kids’ mom, we are tied down here for the foreseeable future.

THE FLIPSIDE :: This actually ensures a lot of stability in our lives.   The kids don’t have to worry about cross-country moves away from family and friends, and we don’t have to worry about whether taking an out-of-state job would be a huge mistake.  We can sleep easy knowing #WichitAwesome is the only place for us!

What is the biggest sacrifice you made as a stepparent?

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