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Monday, May 9, 2011

Stepmother's Day: Reflections of a Stepmom

I'm a stepmother. Did I get acknowledged yesterday by my step children? No. Did I expect to? No again. Do I think I should. No again. So what's my beef? I don't have one really. I just thought some remarks would be appropriate given the big day is now over for the year.


I don't think stepmothers should necessarily be included in Mother's Day unless they had a significant role in raising their stepchildren. Being a stepmother is hard. There is no universally defined role for stepmoms. As a result, there is no universally defined way to appreciate them.


I know I will never have the appreciation, or the place in my stepchildren's heart that a real mother will. I don't think I should either. But, just because I am not totally relevant doesn't mean I have no relevance at all. My role is not the same as a mother, but it cannot be assumed that I play no role at all.


What follows below are simply some of my reflections:


- I often have to deal with behavior by stepchildren that would be easier if I were a real mother. No one put their arms around me as a three year old and said, "I  love you Mom." I don't have any of these emotional reserves to get me over the rough times.


- Kids often don't realize that basic family interactions, taken for granted, need to be reworked for a new family environment. Old tools may have worked in the old family environment, but new tools are needed for the new environment.


- When kids visit our home they occupy a sort of no-mans land between being family and being guests. Their role in my home is murky and everyone being uncomfortable often results. Behavior that may be normal in their mother's home may not be acceptable to me in mine. Norms of behavior forged in a family environment may suddenly again be under review. This is stressful for anyone.


- If I'm sacrificing to provide them with something, or if my time and resources is being committed to something for them, then it is my business whether they want it to be or not.


- Assuming everything belongs to their father and nothing belongs to me isn't a rational belief.


- When divorce occurs, it often results in the father not being in the home. The children must then choose to interact with him. It doesn't happen by default anymore.


- Often, especially in divorce, the father does not like his former wife's behaviors or characteristics. If the children have picked these up, then it can strain their relationship with their father. What can be endearing in a child, if your love your spouse, can be annoying in your child if you do not.


- People feel obligated to like their mothers. Nobody feels obligated to like their stepmother.


- Even if stepmothers are saints, they probably won't be liked.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Krista. Thank you for your posting. I am a stepmother of 6 myself and understand the unique position that stepmothers find themselves in. Hats off to you for serving your family and going forward even when you may feel forgotten, taken for granted and alone. From one sister to another, Donna

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