Every week I receive emails from stepmoms who are concerned about what having an “ours baby” will do to their stepfamily dynamic.
Concerns include how their stepchildren will react, what his ex-wife will think, how she will balance the responsibilities of being a stepmom while still tending to their own child… just to name a few.
(If you’re wondering what an ours baby is, here’s a definition that I threw together)
Ours Baby – when a stepmom/stepdad has a baby with their partner who also has children from a previous marriage. The stepmom/stepdad may or may not have children from a previous union as well.
My replies to these emails always include THESE pieces of advice.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT
As stepmoms, our family dynamic is far more complicated than a “first family”. We have this nasty little habit over over-analyzing situations. We often assume that any complications are due to the fact that the we are in a blended family.
And well, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. But either way, it’s not worth driving yourself crazy over.
The way I see it, when you decide to have an “ours” baby, as long as you are excited, include the kids in the process, and remind them that you’re not “starting a new family” but adding to the one that you already have, you’re on the right track.
If the kids aren’t excited, keep in mind that there are many situations in “first families” where kids aren’t thrilled about the new addition either. It can take time for everyone to adjust.
If they aren’t excited due to issues in your stepfamily dynamics, (e.g. alienation from mom), chances are its completely out of your control. This is not about you or the new baby it’s about what you represent.
As long as you’re empathetic, ensure they know you’re adding to the family not starting a new one and create a space for them to share their concerns, you’re doing all that you can do.
I don’t think it’s worth putting your life on hold to wait until they come around. It’s giving them too much power and setting a precedent that you’re future isn’t a priority.
Today I thought I’d share 3 Truths about Adding An “Ours” Baby to your Blended Family Crew.
These truths are OUR truths. They come from our personal experience of adding Reese to our family.
1. YOU MAY NEVER ACHIEVE BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR STEPCHILDREN AND YOUR “OURS BABY” … THAT’S OKAY.
Even though the goal is to always make sure that everyone is treated the same, the fact is, your baby will be with you 100% of the time, while you’re stepchildren are with you less. Naturally, you will have more experiences with your child than you will your stepchildren. It’s inevitable.
Don’t feel bad about that. It’s important to remember that their lives don’t stop when they are at their moms.
They have experiences, are making memories, going for ice cream, getting birthday presents, having movie nights, celebrating holidays, going on vacations. They are still living their lives. Your child’s life shouldn’t be put on pause until they are back.
From day one I’ve told my husband that I refuse to allow our daughter’s life to be dictated by our week-on-week-off access schedule. Lucky for me, he agrees!
When we are all together as a family, everyone gets treated the same. Balance is acheivable. But when they are at their Mom’s, we keep living our lives… as we should.
** THIS ONE DOESN’T APPLY TO FULL CUSTODY SITUATIONS **
2. BECOMING A “REAL MOM” CHANGED HOW I LOOK AT BEING A STEPMOM.
It’s made me more empathetic and and considerate of my husband’s ex.
It made me think more about what it would feel like for another woman to be caring with and having special moments with my child.
Since having Reese I am way more empathetic and far less judgemental of my husband’s ex.
Stepmoms often judge their partners ex for their parenting style. Everyone parents differently.
Becoming a mom to Reese was a very humbling experience. It allowed me to let go of the pressure of perfection and realize that all parents are just figuring things out as they go.
3. YOU MAY LOVE YOUR CHILD DIFFERENTLY THAN YOUR STEPCHILDREN … AND THAT’S OKAY TOO.
When I first became a stepmom I made the commitment that I would treat my stepchildren as my own. I’ve always stood by that.
When I got pregnant, I was sure the way I felt about my stepchildren and my baby girl would be virtually the same.
It’s not…. Not even close.
It used to drive me crazy when other moms would say to me “you won’t understand until you’re a mom yourself”. I found it disrespectful, and like it undermined the role that I play in my stepchildren’s lives.
But as it turns out, there was some merit to what they said…
There is this special bond that I have with my daughter that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. My husband and I created her together. She came from me. She is a piece of me. I’ve been with her since the moment she took her first breath.
She is my baby.
I do not have the same history or maternal bond with my stepkids.
I’m sure you just **gasped** and thought to yourself “did she actually just say that?”
Yes. Yes I did.
But before you get your panties in a bunch and start sending me hate email, let me explain.
The type of love and bond I have with my stepchildren is ALSO unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
The fact that I love them differently, doesn’t mean that the love is any less important in my life. It is just a DIFFERENT type of love. It’s a different role.
Just like I love my sisters differently than I love my husband, or my husband differently than I love our daughter. They are all my family, and all mean the world to me… just in a different way!
I am equally committed to loving and supporting them. I show up for all four of the kids the same but they have a mom. I am Reese’s mom.
Instead, my goal is to ensure everyone feels loved, safe, and supported within our home. We keep it as fair as possible while remembering that fair isn’t always equal.