Friday, January 28, 2011

Your Own

I was prompted by a discussion on Stepchicks to write this post. The discussion was about how stepmoms are asked constantly about our private lives and whether we want a baby- and then why or why not. By everyone.

To have a child should be a decision, but oftentimes it's an accident. "Choice" is referred to after the child is already created, but I consider it to be a choice beforehand. And, it's a choice between you and your husband. It's not something "you" want and he doesn't, or vice versa. It's both. Why are we stepmoms in the first place? Because of choices gone awry between couples that maybe should have never had kids in the first place or didn't actually agree about having kids (or having another).

Involved stepmoms are very, very aware of how much work children are. Sometimes we live full-time with the kids, and others only parent during visits. And sometimes "visits" are for entire months and summers. Either way, we do actually have knowledge of what it's like to raise a child, no matter how much controlling bio-moms want to say otherwise. (Is an adoptive mom not a mom because she didn't give birth? Do you only gain parenting knowledge if you give birth? Does anyone who's given birth automatically have parenting expertise? And by that logic...So dads aren't parents?)

But beyond anyone else, we are constantly harassed about having "our own." Complete strangers insist that we have our own babies, in order to erase the pain and frustrations of stepchildren.

Here's a list of absolutely bogus reasons I've heard:
Having a baby will make everything better.
Then you'll know what it's "really like."
Your stepkids will bond with you more.
Your husband will be more connected to you, because you will have shared a child.
The ex will have less control.
You won't feel left out anymore.

All bogus. Super, super bogus. Although some of those things have "come true" for some stepmoms, those are absolutely not reasons to ever, ever have a child. I also am of the belief that children should be brought into the world for a purpose other than "I want one" and the hope that a marriage might be salvaged (why many of us have stepkids).

Not only can I not imagine dealing with a baby on top of a full time job, my husband's full time job, and two stepkids, I can't imagine adding to our chaos of court, the kids' mom, and money debt. How stupid would it be to have a kid with all of that?

Not only that, but if I don't know you, and you don't know me... Don't tell me I should get pregnant with my husband. If I say "no", don't push me to explain why. It should be obvious that I already committed myself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It Is Different

When you meet someone and they tell you they have a kid or that they're a mom, you don't immediately have a flood of flashbacks about your own mom and suddenly experience a wave of anger, remorse, and whatever else you associated with your own mother- And then proceed to treat the person you're talking to as if they are your mom, just like your mom, and just as guilty as your mom for everything she did to you during your childhood.

Guess what happens to stepmoms? The above. Not from *everyone*, but from many. If a person has had a bad experience with their own stepmom, they immediately impose on you or assume that you are the same. Their emotions and beliefs about their own stepmom are suddenly how they see you, and they treat you accordingly.

And you get used to it. How sick is that? If you're a stepmom, you are USED TO and even EXPECT to be treated this way. I get looks, comments, and bizarrely inappropriate questions. Primarily from other women and mom's, of course, but there are many men out there who also had stepmoms, who they consider to be terrible.

Not to mention, I also somehow embody all of many wives' fears about their husband leaving them for another woman (or a younger, more fit, and employed woman, to be specific). Which means that I also am somehow responsible for whatever happened in my husband's first marriage, and usually the assumption is "affair." Which we all know that in the woman's world, the "other woman" is somehow entirely at fault for a horrible marriage falling part, rather than both of the married parties. So given that immediate assumption, no matter how completely uninformed and lacking, a stepmom also embodies all of her husband's faults and the reason for the first marriage's demise. IMMEDIATELY added to this is that the stepmom is, in fact, the REASON for the horrible life of the children. Not that there may be any evidence of such a horrible life, but many moms with these fears immediately assume that the children must be suffering greatly given this stepmom and the divorce. (Along with this is also the belief, that I'm seeing more and more actually, that stepmoms are incapable of any "mothering" or parenting, since they themselves were not knocked up with these specific children.)

To recap: ANY Stepmom's first impression with the majority of women = Affair (slut/homewrecker/tramp) + THE Cause of Divorce + Ruining children's lives

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Year Advice

I have plenty of fodder for some new posts, but life always takes away that time. The biggest thing I wanted to pass on in my first post for the new year is making sure that you always have a back up.

I don't mean a friend or your husband (necessarily). I mean that you need to have a back-up purpose...or 10. Like, I would say 3 at a minimum. But, that's me. I have to keep busy.

If you're a new or intermediate stepmom, you need a few back-up activities that are filling. And I don't just mean "activities". I mean "involvements". "Dedications". A few other "purposes." Other than being a wife or stepmom.

So a job is one thing, but we all know how awesome jobs are at making us feel meaningful. (Ha! Glass ceiling? Yeah, still exists.)

Volunteer. Be in charge of something, because you will not be in charge of your stepkids. Or, you may have some "in charge" but still feel worthless.

I coach soccer, and I found that I'm very good at that. I wouldn't be coaching if it weren't for my stepchildren, but now I coach with or without them. Before that, I was a youth ministry leader/counselor for the church, and I'm still doing that when I'm not coaching. I am also a cat and dog rescue/foster parent.

Are you noticing a theme, though? The good thing about my type of volunteer activities is that it involves youth looking up to me and respecting me. That happens to directly correspond with the disrespect or lack of love and meaning I receive from my stepdaughters. Even the animals rescue/fostering is perfect. These animals are my children. I care for them and they follow me around. And then my stepkids are jealous when the animals follow me around because they're only here every other weekend. (Ha! Love it.)

Anyways, you MUST find other activities that are fulfilling beyond your stepchildren. I know what it's like- even with these involvements and hobbies, I still am crazy, like the typical stepmom, about the issues with my stepkids. Even though I'm so busy and I'm working with all these kids that think I'm great, even though I "feel the love" from other kids all the time, it still barely compensates for the pain I sometimes feel as a stepmom.

But, you need to be selfish in picking out your involvements. You must dedicate yourself so that you are considered important and useful or a leader in the group or whatever it is. You must allow yourself to receive praise and attention. You must excel and show your stepkids that you're worth being in their lives, because they don't believe it on their own. They'll learn from it, and you get the fulfillment outside of the unfulfilled part of your home life.

But most of all, you need these things to tell you the opposite of what your stepkids show you. You need it for your self-esteem, your sanity, and your social life.
You must over-involve yourself elsewhere.