For the past seven months, I have been a stepmom.
Confession--most of the time, I think I'm failing.
My stepdaughters live three hours away. We don't have them during the week, drive them to appointments, or get to go to school functions easily. Seeing a choir concert is a 6 plus hour drive for us (and we've done it multiple times this year), so it's not easy. We miss the big girls and we spend more time with the little girls with them here in Texas with us. Our blended family is busy and I struggle daily to juggle it all.
Being a mom is HARD. It's exhausting and it is full of demands. Being a stepmom? I had no idea how much harder. You don't have the unconditional love of the child you've known since she squeaked in your arms moments after birth. You don't have the child who wants to curl up in your lap or have special mama/daughter time with you. You don't have the child that knows that even if you get frustrated with them, you love them to the depths of your soul. You have the child who never wanted you in her life in the first place and always knows her mother can do it better (and she can, they have a great mom).
I'm never first choice. In the line of four parents, I'm fourth. No doubt. I'm learning to accept this.
It hurt at first because I so wanted the girls to love me. I so wanted them to want to spend time with me or want to communicate with me. I got my feelings hurt. A lot. I responded poorly. A lot. I tried. Over and over. I still try. Sometimes it's met with terrific results and I cry because I think "they like me! maybe they can love me!" Sometimes it feels like we are right back to square one and I cry because I wonder if I'll ever stop wondering if they actually hate me (sidenote--I don't believe they really hate me, it's just my own fear creeping in).
Step-parenting feels like a dance--it's very one step forward and one step back. OK, two steps back.
Being a stepmom has it's incredible rewards. My stepdaughters are amazing. They are talented and funny. I've learned a lot from them. They are terrific big sisters to my girls, and do not see the boundary of step when it comes to Maggie and Katie. Those are their sisters and they adore them. We can laugh so much as a family and have developed our own inside jokes that are just for our family of six. I love my stepdaughters. I love them so much and I'm crazy proud of them.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy. It's been a terrific summer with his12 year old here with us for a month. 16 only joined us for a week because she was working all summer at the frozen yogurt shop in her town. It was hard to not have her here with us. We can't make her come and we accept that she is working with responsibilities now. I made it my goal that 12 would have a good summer. We had playdates with her favorite Texas friends, sleepovers and a trip to the water park. We took one friend and the three of our younger ones to a cabin on Possum Kingdom lake for a week and have a blast. At the end, she rated the summer a 9 out of 10. We had our bumps in the road, but in the end, it was a great summer. We miss her already!
Most importantly, I love their father. I love this family and no matter how long it takes, I am committed to this blended family. So, I'm a stepmom.
Are you in a stepcouple? How long? What advice do you have to someone still gaining her footing in this new dynamic?