There are many things you can’t truly understand unless you’ve experienced it. Being a stepmom is one of them.
While many empathize with the struggles stepmoms face, even if you’re the most empathetic person, you cannot full understand the emotional toll that step-motherhood can take on a. woman, unless you’ve actually been a stepmom yourself.
The stigma in our society, the challenge of finding your place in a family that was created before you were even a thought, finding your place with your stepkids, the ex, extended family. The list of challenges is exhausting, especially if you’ve found yourself in a high conflict co-parenting relationship.
The mission behind this blog has always been to open up the conversation about blended family life and debunk the stigma that comes with being a stepmom. With that in mind, today I thought I’d share 5 reasons why being a stepmom is so damn hard.
Before I dive in, I want to add a little disclaimer. Every stepfamily dynamic is unique. This list doesn’t apply to everyone. But in summing up all the common stepfamily stressors, these are the top 5.
1. YOU’RE GOOD ENOUGH UNTIL YOU’RE NOT
Many stepmom feel like they are good enough until they are not.
Stepmoms are enough for the appointments, the pick up and drop off, to pack lunches, to do the laundry, the grocery shopping, the homework … all the nitty gritty parenting jobs.
When they do these tasks they feel needed and wanted. It feels good to be on “team parent”. There’s this sense of belonging that comes with taking on the parental role with your stepkids.
This sense of belonging can quickly be squashed when those glory parentings moments come up, and they’re often expected to step aside and know their place
I’m talking prom dress shopping, awards ceremonies, gradations – all those moments that make parenting worth all the stress. In many situations, this is when stepmoms are expected to sit on the sidelines.
Often Mom’s have no issue with their children’s stepmom helping out with the day-to-day parenting jobs, presumably because it’s less stress on them. When the Kodak moments take place, they all of a sudden become worried about marking their territory – leading to stepmoms feelings like a “glorified babysitter”|
2. YOU’RE RAISING KIDS WITH RULES + VALUES THAT MAY NOT BE ALIGNED WITH YOURS
Stepmoms come in halfway through the game. Rules, expectations, and family values have already been established. Many times, stepmoms report feeling torn because they do not agree with rules and expectations that are in place for the kids.
I’m talking how much kids should contribute around the house, how children should interact with adults, rules, expectations, consequences. The list goes on.
It can be very difficult to live in a house with children who are allowed to do things that go against everything that you stand for. Especially if you have children of your own who you are trying to raise in alignment with your own moral compass.
3. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO GRIN AND BARE IT
Moms are encouraged to keep it real. Share the nitty gritty of parenting. Mom Truths and Mom Confessions are all over the internet. Struggles in Motherhood are met with empathy and support.
If you’re looking for some REAL Mom Truths, be sure to check out my girls Cat+Nat! Real talk about Mom Life!
However, stepmoms don’t feel like they can speak as openly about their struggles. When they do are met with responses like “I cannot believe she said that about his kids. What did she expect it would be like?”
The double standard is ridiculous.
Venting about the struggles that come with motherhood DOES NOT make you a BAD MOM. It does not mean you don’t love your kids.
It’s the same for stepmoms.
When a stepmom talks openly about feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, it does not mean they do not love their stepchildren. It does not mean they don’t show up as a great stepmom.
It means they are a human being.
4. ANOTHER PERSON CAN IMPACT YOUR LIFE AT ANY GIVEN TIME
As a stepmom you as susceptive to curve balls from the ex at any point in time.
A schedule change
A lawyers letter
Request for child support increase
refusal to follow Divorce Decree or Co-Parenting Plan
Refusal to abide by financial responsibilities
The list goes on.
All of these things ultimately affect you and your life.
5. YOU’RE LIVING A LIFE THAT ISN’T FULLY YOURS
Emma Smallbone said this to me during a session I had with her a few months back and it hit me like TONNE OF BRICKS.
”When you are a stepmom you’re living a life that isn’t fully yours”
Schedules, rules, expectations, traditions. Especially at the beginning, stepmoms often feel like they’ve been slot into a role.
As I wrap up this post, I’m feeling like “wow that was pretty dooms day”.
Don’t get me wrong, being a stepmom is not all bad. In fact, it’s one of the biggest blessings of my life. But it’s a blessing that has challenged me in ways that I never expected.
I didn’t write this post to vent.
I wrote this post for two reasons.
1. To educate non-stepmoms on why it can feel so challenging – so hopefully you can empathize with your stepmom friends on those hard days
2. to show the stepmoms who feel all these things, but don’t say it out loud, that they aren’t alone!
If you happen to be a stepmom looking for tips on how to make things a bit easier – I’ve got you covered. I’ve listed a few resources to check out below!