For Stepmothers: Awareness

Gaze of Love

Gaze of Love

Well, this is truly a blast from the past- a blog about stepmothering, the topic that first brought me to blogging as I tried to makes sense of my life. I was living out the axiom so many writers follow “If I write about it, it can’t take my sanity.”

I am still a stepmother, of course. My stepdaughter is now 16 and my stepson is 13. In some ways, things have gotten better over the years. Time and distance (we moved away from the ex- who had moved in across the street from us) help, as does maturity, good bottles of wine, and even better friends.

But, it is not all rainbows and unicorns. Wariness remains, a “be on guard” approach to parenting fostered by years of training.

It was recently though, in a posting on the site “Behind the White Coat Beats a Real Human Heart” that triggered awareness of what it has been for me as a stepmother, and what I imagine it has been for many women in this role.

In the posting, the author describes having an infant daughter with colic. You can imagine the fatigue, the failed attempts of soothing the child and so on.

It was one line in particular though that got me – Colic robbed me of being the mother that I thought I was, the one that I wanted to be…

And, I thought, “Yep, this is what it is, often, to be a stepmom”.

Often as stepmoms, we enter with the best of intentions. We want to respect boundaries, be supportive in a less than ideal dynamic. We want to, God help us, help raise and mother (the verb, not the noun) children that our not ours. We do this gently and with, dare I say, a sense of hope.

And yet, too often, the post-marital dynamics- unresolved grief, the pettiness, the unresolved issues and anger of all involved in the original coupling- become our version of the infant with colic- it robs us of being the stepmothers that we thought and hoped we were.

A mother with an infant with colic is called upon to do more and be more in a way she may not have anticipated in a situation that is less than ideal to mothering.

The same is true for stepmothering. A stepmom is called upon to do more and be more in a way she likely never anticipated, in a situation that is less than ideal to love and awareness.

For all the stepmoms who have ever wondered “How in the heck did I get here? And how in the heck did I become this type of stepmom?” , you (even if no one thinks to tell you) have truly been amazing. Like the mom with the infant with colic, you have chosen to love in all situations. That is the best type of mothering.

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11 thoughts on “For Stepmothers: Awareness

    • Obviously, your post triggered that association for me. I realized how hard I had to fight to be the mothering figure I longed to be – given the dynamic I am in . thank you!

  1. I think in many ways there is far more pressure on step moms than bio-moms to perform flawlessly, lest the backlash of criticism comes down upon their heads. The standard is pretty high and I admire how you have risen to the challenge, becoming a better ‘mom’ than the original. 😉

  2. I recently lost my 4 year old stepdaughter. She was mauled by a dog a little over weeks ago. We loved each other as if she was my own child. I was one if the lucky stepmoms who was blessed with a biological mother who shared her child and wanted what was best fo rb her daughter. We were able to go on overnight trips together and she even shared a few holidays with us. Kiyana was with me and her dad for 2-3 weeks at a time. I know that this blessing is not the norm, because I was in a marriage where the exec opposite situation ruined our marriage. I don’t know where to turn in my grief. I find myself feeling helpless hopeless angry disappointed and sad that I lost all n identity of being her mother because I am not legally her parent. I stated my blog to find my way to a day that I can see sunshine again. I’ve lost so much and the tragic events haunt me. I need to share her and my story with the world so she is not remembered as the 4 year old girl who got mauled by a dog. Our life and Kiyana was so much more than that. Her name was Kiyana McNeal and she was our angel. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. I wanted you to know that I come back to the words you wrote me as I manage my way through the grief of losing Kiyana. They put thi ND s in perspective for me. Kiyana and I both knew the depth of our love and that is all that matters. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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