Being a parent is emotional, regardless of what “type” of parent you are. When a mother gives birth to a child she will most likely feel excitement, pain, joy, and afterwards when the hormones are still raging, she may feel sad. Later on there will most likely be more excitement, some pain, lots of joy and occasional sadness as the years go on. When you’re a step parent, you feel all of these things, but often times they are in different forms. You may be wondering what these “forms” are, and therefore I have compiled a list of 10 emotions I have felt as a step mom!
I figured I would begin with the negative emotions and work my way to the happier, more positive emotions. So, to begin, let’s start with one of the emotions I really struggled with when I first started dating my Husband and still find creeping around occasionally. I feel as though most people would find this emotion obvious when you’re a step parent or becoming one, but I had no idea how bad this one could get! In most relationship, there will always be exes. You may get lucky and never have to worry about them, but when you enter a relationship with someone who has a kid, chances are, the ex is going to be around. This can be extremely trying for a new relationship and it definitely put a strain on my relationship at times. To begin with, I was jealous that my significant other had a baby with someone else. He shared an extremely powerful and life-changing experience with her and therefore I felt as though a part of him would always love her. So, every time he talked to her on the phone and left the room, I worried she was going to steal him away. Whenever he picked up my Bonus Son, I worried he wouldn’t return. Over time this emotion lessened as I realized that my Husband has no feelings left for his ex and that the only positive thing to come out of his relationship with her was his Son. Fortunately, my husband and I have an extremely open relationship and whenever I started feeling jealous, I talked to him about it. He would reassure me that I had nothing to worry about, and over time, I no longer needed that reassurance as much.
Then my daughter came along, and the jealousy started creeping back. This time I wasn’t jealous about the fact that he and his ex had a child together, because we now had a child together too. But, I was jealous of the fact that I was experiencing this for the first time and my husband had already done it. I remember feeling similar about our wedding, but his first wedding was very small and inexpensive, whereas our wedding was large and extravagant. Plus, he wasn’t fronting the bill. So in a way, our wedding was his first (and last) of the kind! But when my daughter came along, jealousy was definitely one of the emotions I felt. Again, I expressed this to my husband and he assured me that though he had done this before, he was very young and didn’t remember much about the time when his Son was born. With my daughter, my husband was able to take time off from work. When his Son was born though, he returned to work after a few days because they needed the money. Plus, our daughter was planned and the product of a healthy marriage. When my husband’s ex found out she was pregnant, they barely knew one another. So in a way, the birth of our daughter was a first for him as well. Once I thought of it this way, the jealousy was pushed back into its cave where it will hopefully stay!
This is another obvious one. When you’re a step parent, you get angry. A LOT. You may be angry about the attitude your step child is giving you after a week at his Mom’s or maybe Bio Mom is being extremely difficult this week. Whatever the source, being angry is EXHAUSTING. Plus, it’s extremely detrimental to a relationship. Now, I would like to tell you that the longer you’re a step parent, the less angry you’ll get, but this is not true. If anything, you get MORE angry. You develop a stronger relationship with your Step Kids, so often times you find yourself becoming more angry at Bio Mom when she does something that may have a negative impact on your kid. This is inevitable, but I’ve found several ways to help manage it! (Sounds like a great idea for another post if you ask me!). The same goes with your Step Kids. The stronger your relationship, the more angry you may find yourself getting over things like poor grades at school. Just to clarify, I believe this anger stems from love. The more you love someone, the more angry you tend to feel when they disappoint you. So in a way, though the anger and disappointment may be heightened, at the end of the day it’s because your love for the Child is growing!
While this one goes hand-in-hand with jealousy, for me, it’s a noticeably different emotion. Even though I ultimately ended up with my Husband, I still find myself envious of Bio Mom at times. I say this because I missed a lot of firsts with my son. I didn’t get to see him when he was born, I didn’t get to hear him speak his first words or take his first steps, and I certainly didn’t get to experience giving birth to him. Bio Mom did. Plus, she got to experience all of this for the first time with MY Husband. That’s something that’s really hard for me and I don’t think this one will ever go away. I do have high hopes though that one day they really will invent a time machine. If so, I already told Bio Mom that I would be crashing our Son’s birth! Other times I’ve felt envious are when new firsts happen while our Son is at his Mom’s house. For example, he lost his first tooth when he was with her. My husband and I were both pretty upset but I know that we aren’t the only ones who feel this envy. Our son rode his bike without training wheels for the first time at our house and I have no doubt that his Mom felt the same twinge of envy that we did over his tooth. Fortunately, now that Bio Mom and I have developed a relationship, we can share these things with each other through photos and videos, which really helps ease some of the pain!
I guarantee that most step parents have heard the phrase “You’re not my Mom/Dad” before. Talk about a dagger straight to the heart! Yes, we are fully aware that we are not your biological parent, but hearing it never gets easier because we wish we could be! I’m not saying Step parents want to replace bio parents, but a good step parent will do everything a typical parent would. We make dinner, help the kids with homework, do their laundry, love them, etc. All the guts. None of the Glory. Even if your kid’s Bio Mom is the most worthless human being on the planet, I guarantee a part of you feels inferior to her because you did not create/give birth to your Step Child. I have also found that this is much more heightened if you do not have your own biological children. Now that I have a daughter, I don’t feel as inferior because I too have joined the Bio Mom club. But, for those of you that don’t have Bio Kids, don’t want Bio Kids, or can’t have Bio Kids, let me just say that YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are not inferior, you are an extremely special and amazing person. To be extremely cliché and quote multiple Pinterest posts, you made the choice to love a child that isn’t yours, and that’s truly a superior quality.
Loneliness can be a big problem for step parents because you often feel as though you’re an outsider in your own family. Plus, unless you find other step parent friends, no one will fully understand what you’re going through. While my husband also has had to deal with Bio Mom conflicts, it’s not quite the same because his son is biologically his. No one can ever take that away from him. When you’re a step parent, you’re dealing with your spouse’s ex AND the biological parent of your step child. This can make you feel as though you amount to nothing (see inferiority above). Plus, often times you can feel as though you have no say over your life because everything has already been laid out in the custody orders. Or, what happens if something ever happens to your spouse? You have no claim to this child and therefore they could be ripped away from you as soon as something happens to your significant other. While you can attempt to explain these feelings to your spouse, at the end of the day, they will never fully understand unless they are a step parent themselves. The same goes with your friends and family. They may be able to sympathize, but until they’ve walked in the shoes of someone who does everything that a parent does, but has no rights because the child is not biologically theirs, it’s impossible to understand.
This one happens over and over again. It happens every time we say goodbye to our son for the week. Or any time our son jokes about leaving with his Mom after a basketball game when it’s our week. Heartbreak happens all the time when you’re a parent though, not just a step parent. Luckily, there have only been a few instances in my life as a step parent that really stand out as truly crushing to me. The one that really stands out in my mind is the night my son told me he wished his Mom and Dad were back together. While this seems like a typical thing a kid would say, what really hurt was when I explained to him that I wouldn’t be around if his parents were together still and he responded with “I wouldn’t care.” Later on after his Dad had talked to him, he apologized and really seemed to mean it, but that one really gutted me. Unfortunately for me, I wear my heart on my sleeve so whenever my Son is disappointed about something that happened at school or at his Mom’s house, I’m disappointed with him.
The second form of heartbreak comes when you see your husband being mistreated. Whether it be by the courts, Bio Mom, or your step children. Seeing the love of your life in pain is never easy. Unfortunately, many Bio Dads are under appreciated in the eyes of the court and I hope that one day things change to more of a 50/50 approach (like our situation). But that’s another rant for another post! Fortunately, my husband is an extremely strong person and things don’t seem to bother him as much as they bother me. Plus, when it comes to Bio Mom, she has always stated that my husband is an amazing Father, even when they don’t see eye to eye.
In my years as a Step Mom, there have been many times I’ve felt betrayed. I’ve felt betrayed when my husband has taken Bio Mom’s side over mine. I’ve felt betrayed when it seems as those Bio Mom has specifically done something to spite me. I’ve felt betrayed when my Son says he wants to go to his Mom’s house on our week. And I’ve felt betrayed by the multiple “friends” I’ve had that have told Bio Mom things I’ve said. As time goes on though, I’ve come to see the different sides to many of these “betrayals”. My Son is not purposely betraying me by wanting to go to his Mom’s house, he just misses her. And my husband is not betraying me by siding with Bio Mom because when this happens, I’m usually in the wrong. As I’ve gotten closer to Bio Mom, we’ve talked about the things I felt betrayed over and I’ve come to realize that none of these things I thought she did in spite of me were intentional, I just took them the wrong way. And finally with the friend betrayals, I’ve learned to pick better friends!
While there are plenty of negative emotions that go along with being a Step Mom, the good will ALWAYS outweigh the bad. I am an extremely Proud Bonus Mom. I’m proud of my amazing Son for overcoming the obstacles of living in two houses and for accepting new people into his life. I’m proud of my husband for stepping up when he was a teenager to provide an amazing life for his Son, myself and now our daughter. I’m proud of Bio Mom and myself for working hard to maintain a relationship for our Son. And I’m proud of myself for embracing this blended family I’ve been blessed with and for stepping up to the role of being a Step Mom.
Even though having my Son away for a week is tough, we get so excited when he returns! I’m excited to watch him grow up and I’m excited to be a part of his life. While he may be living in two houses, I feel all the excitement that goes along with having a child. Every day with him is a new adventure, and having him part time only increases the excitement when he’s home. It makes things like family vacations, going to the movies, or taking him out to Sushi that much more meaningful. Plus, even though I know it will be difficult for my daughter to only see her brother every other week, the excitement she is going to feel when he is home will be that much stronger!
While there are a ton of negative emotions that come with being a Step Mom, joy is the greatest and most common emotion that I feel. This perfect blended family of mine has brought me more joy in the past 5 years than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Seeing my Son hold his Sister for the first time or watching her light up when he enters the room, makes all the negative emotions worth it. I will never forget the first time my Son said he loved me, the first time he asked for me instead of his Dad or the night he held on to my skirt while we were watching fireworks. Though little, these are the things that make being a step parent more than worth it. Life as a parent is full of small victories, but in my opinion, they mean so much more when you’re a Step Parent!