I've been contemplating this blog for a long time, wondering just what I would say. Really, I suppose it doesn't matter. Everyone has a story to tell, and although mine may not be so compelling to some, it might provide some insight and (if nothing else) laughs.
I am a step-mom to three kids; ages 15, 12 and 10 (boy, girl, boy). I've joked lately that I am actually step-mom to FOUR kids, with my husband's former wife being the fourth child - the one who is the most work, by the way. My husband, Jesse, and I met at work, and I was aware of his divorcee situation prior to starting our relationship. One of the first things that attracted me to him was his relationship with his children. Not only was he an "involved" parent, but he was a darned good one at that! The more time I spent with him and his children, the more amazed I was at his dedication and commitment to his family.
Needless to say, there were many other wonderful qualities that lead to me falling in love with him, some of which I'm sure I'll cover in future posts. But the thing that blew me away more than anything was his patience in dealing with his former spouse. I understand that a vast majority of divorced couples have their share of uphill battles/complaints/headaches/heartaches to deal with. However, I found a rare man when I met my husband, and I'll stand by that statement forever.
Since before Jesse and I married, I've felt as though there aren't enough resources for people like myself - childless step-moms. REAL moms (a.k.a. bio-moms) have a cultural and physical process to ready them for motherhood. REAL moms have baby showers, they receive TONS of (sometimes unsolicited) advice, and they have nine months to prepare for the arrival of this new person into their lives. Additionally, REAL moms get those first few years of growth, where the parent and the child grow together and learn how the parent/child relationship works. I'm not saying it's easy for bio-moms, but I am saying it's a well-known path, and there are thousands of books relating to the subject, most of which were written by women who've "been there, done that".
Even with adoptive parents, there is some level of social acceptance and ownership bestowed upon the new mom and/or dad. Society, in general, accepts an adopted child as a legitimate offspring of the adoptive parent(s).
However, with step-parenting - ESPECIALLY with step-mothers - there's a different spin. Having been a stepmom for less than two years, I can say I am beginning to understand what it's all about. Those who don't assume you're a "home-wrecker" will typically view you as a stand-in for the bio mom. Mothers at school functions usually treat me as though I'm the nanny to my step-kids. There have been a handful of wonderful, accepting parents I've encountered through my step-kids schools, and they have truly been a blessing in my life. These are the people I look for at concerts and classroom meetings, searching for a smile or a friendly face - it makes all the difference in the world!
I realize I set step-moms apart from step-dads, and I want to clarify on that. Step-dads are often viewed with some sort of "awwww... look at that wonderful, selfless man who is willing to step in and rescue that poor woman from a life of single-motherhood. He must be a wonderful person!" sentiment. And you know what? He probably is a wonderful person! What I'm saying is that men are revered and praised for their roles as step-parents, and women are typically questioned. Does this tie into the "wicked stepmother" stereotype? Probably. Is there some truth to the stereotype? Probably.
This blog is about how my situation fits into the whole step-parent world. I am fully aware that I can be the evil step-mom from time to time. I can't help it. There is absolutely no way to avoid those situations where I need to be a bit selfish, or where I can't stand the thought of attempting to "parent" another woman's children for one second longer. However, there are also times (the majority of the time, mind you), when I feel an amazing, overwhelming love for my step-kids that I can't imagine being any stronger if they were my biological children.
I hope to be able to use this as my space to vent, praise, whine, solicit advice, offer advice and above all, document my journey.