I remember having a pretty frank conversation with my husbands ex once. I don’t know exactly what it was about, but in it I said “look I love these kids like they’re my own”.
And the response was “well I would hope so”.
Almost as if it was a given.
In the same conversation, we talked about areas where it may feel like I was overstepping.
The tone of the conversation was about where I needed to know my place.
This is where it gets confusing for stepmoms. This is where the messages are mixed and the expectations are unrealistic.
I’m going to say something that has got me in a lot of trouble with some stepmoms who don’t have biological children of their own.
But before I do, I want to clarify that I think every stepmom experience is different. Every stepfamily dynamic is different.
I thought I loved my stepchildren like my own until I had a child of my own.
I adore my stepchildren. I love them deeply. I have their backs, make sure they have the things they need, do for them what I do for my own while respecting the role of their mom, of course.
BUT when I had our daughter I realized it felt a little different. It is a different kind of love.
My love and relationship with my stepchildren developed over time.
My love for my daughter was instant.
It is different.
At first I felt guilty for this. After we had our daughter Reese, there was a shift that I didn’t expect.
You can’t change how you feel.
Instead of putting pressure on myself and basking in the guilt, I started to dive into this.
Time, biology, parenting roles… they’re all different.
The relationship is far less complicated. There’s no questioning yourself, no wondering where you stand. No loyalty binds. No feeling like you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. You’re just mom.
So many stepmoms experience this. They are told they should love their stepkids like they are their own. They feel like they should. Their partner expects them to…
If this is you, please know that you’re not alone.
It’s okay if you don’t.
The stigma is so strong that many women don’t feel comfortable saying how they feel out loud. Most stepmoms don’t feel comfortable talking about the real stepmom experience.
(Which is one of the reasons why I started The Exclusive Stepmom Community).
Some stepmoms will never love their stepkids like they are their own.
Some stepkids do not want their stepmoms to love them like they are their own.
Some stepkids don’t see their stepmom as a parental figure.
Some stepmoms are supports for their partner behind the scenes and have very little to do with parenting.
Some stepmoms are seen as “real mom”.
There are so many different factors to consider.
Remember what works for one family may not work for another family.
Take the pressure off and do what feels right for you.