Trials & Tribulations of a Step-Mom
A five-year-old girl once looked me whole-heartedly in the eyes and asked me if she could call me “Mama.” I had just married her father about one-month prior. I remember my heart doing flips but replying with, “You can call me whatever you feel comfortable with.”
I also remember one month after our wedding it was my step-daughter’s birthday. She begged me and said she wanted me to be at her party. To this day she still doesn’t know that her mother forbade me to come to her birthday party and thinks I just didn’t want to come.
Being a step-mom is tough. Heartbreakingly tough. It’s putting all your heart and soul into a child and it not being enough. Being a step-mom is being the scapegoat for when things go wrong; every time they go wrong. It’s being the front-runner at home and school but being on the back burner when it comes to the eyes of everyone around you. In their eyes you’re just there, an outsider, maybe even temporary.
It’s calling the school to speak to a teacher only to be left feeling defeated because they can only speak to the parents. After several years, after all you’ve done and the role you’ve played… it isn’t enough. It’s filling out school registration forms year after year and putting someone else’s name in the “Mother” section and putting your own name in the “allowed for pickup” sections. Even though you’re the number they call when the child’s sick. Even when you’re the one getting the child off the bus every single day.
It’s being called her mother’s name in school settings at the beginning of every school year only to have to explain yourself and why it is you’re the one there on meet the teacher night and not her mother. It’s tiresome conversations you have with every single teacher to make them aware that if they need anything, you’re the one they should call. Do they call? Of course not; your name isn’t written in the “Mother” box on the school registration form. Why should they call? You’re the one that ends up filling their requests. Every single time. It’s answering every single phone call from school knowing that you will have the clarify who you are and why it is they can’t reach the mother.
It’s school projects, after school extra-curriculars, and sports. It’s doing it all by yourself. It’s standing out in the pouring rain watching your child cross the finish line for their cross-country tournament and knowing your child wants to know why their mother didn’t come. It’s putting on armor when your child vents because they’re angry at you because all that you do for them and the other parent doesn’t put in the effort. It’s being an emotional punching bag because in a sense the child feels you’re not going anywhere. It’s dealing with resentment, disrespect, and hurtful words when you fall short or even worse- when someone else does.
As a step-mother you have limitations. Year after year you take your child for check-ups and year after year your told that you can’t sign the forms for vaccinations. Why do you do it year after year? Because you care enough to make sure she’s healthy. To make sure she’s taken care of. Dentist appointments are just the same. Every six months you explain that although you’re not her “real” mother you are the only one that brings her for her dental care.
Being a step-mother hurts. It hurts when you spend countless hours bonding with a child and knowing that you’ll never be that child’s mother; no matter how much you do or how much you’re involved. It’s an overwhelming feeling of love and excitement when a bond forms that you feel is unbreakable. It’s a heart crushing feeling when that bond is gone over the weekend because the child you have put your heart into comes back different because of a shopping trip with her mom.
It’s frustrating when you can’t just take off with your family on an out-of-town trip without asking for permission. Everything has to be well thought out, planned, arranged, and can rarely be spontaneous.
It’s a struggle in discipline because you want what’s best for your children. It’s the struggle between homes – between care-free and structured. It’s raising a child to become a well-functioning responsible adult and fighting against outside forces that are tempting, foolish, and care-free. It’s a struggle to raise the child you have come to love in the way you would raise your own because your opinion on parenting doesn’t matter and is often ignored.
Being a step-mom is having to explain to your own children that you’re not their sister’s mother. It’s answering questions that sting; that catch you off guard and make you feel like holing up inside yourself.
Overall, being a step-mom is pushing through everything that is being thrown at you and still trying to stand tall. It’s trying to block the low-blows and the heartaches that come your way. It’s going to bed every night feeling defeated and hurt. It’s a tangle of emotions, sometimes feeling them all at once. Being a step-mother has not been kind to me over the years but I hang in there, stick it out, do my best and pray that my step-child grows up to be a smart, healthy, independent, and a kind human being. All you can do is your best and hope they utilize your teachings in their life someday. You pray that one day all of your tears, sleepless nights, and effort made a difference.