Posts Tagged ‘stepparenting’

 

Biomom

Much of my life has centered around mothering. I am the oldest of six siblings. I have two biological children, four step children, and countless other ‘kids’. I love being a mother. It is something I consider an honor.

Being a good mother isn’t easy. You put yourself aside much of the time and focus on giving your best to those babies. It’s not all about YOU anymore, the babies come first. You protect them, you guide them, you correct them when they drift off course. You love them unconditionally.

Being a good stepmom is even more difficult. At least in my experience. I remember asking a friend about being a stepmom when I first considered marriage to my husband. She told me, “Run! Run as fast as you can and never look back!” I laughed aloud when she said it, but she wasn’t kidding. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her stepchildren, she did. It was the family dynamics involved in raising the four of them after the death of their biological mother, along with her own biological child she had with their Dad once they wed that wore her down. She told me being a stepmom was often a thankless task.

Even under the best of circumstances I would imagine being a stepmom is always somewhat tricky. You get a lot of responsibility and very little, if any, authority. You can love them, you can feed them, you can put a roof over their heads, but at the end of the day, you’re not the “real” Mom. Not that you even want to be. But you do want to have some say in the lives of these little people who take so much physically, emotionally and financially. It really shouldn’t be that difficult. If all adults could just be adults and work together for the good of the children, it wouldn’t be.

My role as stepmom didn’t start out hard. My stepchildren loved me, loved coming to spend time here at my home, fought for one on one time with me. Everything was great. They were young and had lots of energy. We had tons of fun. At least until it became apparent I was in the picture to stay. Even then, the resistance didn’t come from them. It came from their mother. Over the years, it has escalated, especially once she lost custody. Over the years, every consequence the bio-mom has suffered due to her actions has somehow been twisted to be my fault. It’s easy to make the stepmom the scape goat. After all, the kids do not have any biological ties to her. She is the outsider. Or so a twisted parent would substantiate.

My stepchildren have been effectively alienated from me, and even worse, from their father. We hear from them on Holidays, sometimes on birthdays, or if they are in need of something. That hurts. A lot. We both sacrificed and endured much over the years to protect them from their mother’s poor lifestyle choices, to provide them with stability they didn’t have with her. I brought them into my home and cared for them as if they were my own. I loved them as my own, and still do, but do they even remember that? If they do they are not allowed to admit it.

They are all adults now. The youngest turned 18 last November and will graduate from high school this coming Friday. Perhaps as they mature and start their own families someday they will look back and see the truth. Maybe, but maybe not. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really change anything. If I had it to do all over again, I would. In a heartbeat.

The bio-mom hates me and has done her best to pull these kids away from me, but at the root of it all, because of ME she had to step up and at least try to be a decent mother. Because of me, she had to take parenting classes. Because of me, she was not allowed to have her children around every Tom, Dick and Harry with whom she chose to have sex. Because of me she couldn’t continue to bring high school boys to her home. Because of me, she at least tried to cook them real meals and she started actually doing family things with them. Yes, because of ME, she had to at least TRY to be a real mother to them. Whether the kids ever acknowledge the truth or not, I get satisfaction knowing that because of me, they had a better shot at having a good childhood. My love for them only added to my husband’s love for me. It strengthened us while she was set on destroying our relationship.

To the stepmom’s in the trenches I say, “Hang in there!” Love yourself enough to take good care of you. You deserve it. Love your stepchildren but maintain healthy boundaries. They need your love and attention. Try not to take things personally. (Good luck with that one! It’s not easy.) Love your husband and work on your marriage continually. You need to support each other. The kids grow up. One day the battles will be over and it will be just the two of you. Take pleasure in knowing that time is on your side.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Why is it that children always get stuck in the middle?  Children are innocent of the breaking down of the relationship.  They are innocent of your inability to act as a mature adult and allow them to have a healthy, whole relationship with BOTH parents.  They are innocent of the animosity and deceit that usually enters their home when parents separate.  It doesn’t matter what happened, or who’s “fault” you think it is.  As a parent, it is your responsibility to protect them, to teach them, to keep them safe.

Once again, I understand both positions.  I have two biological children.  They mean the world to me.  When they were under age, I never took their biological Father back to court for increases in child support.  He visited our children three times prior to our first divorce.  After that, they never saw him.  He never sent birthday cards, presents, etc.  He had absolutely no positive contribution to make to the physical, mental or spiritual well-being of my children, so I wasn’t about to kick the hornet’s nest.  Any contact in the past few years was due to my daughter being an adult, and/or my husband and I inviting him to my son’s birthday parties.

My daughter had many questions growing up about why her Daddy never came to see them.  I told her he had things he was working on, that he loved them very much and that his being away had nothing to do with them.  Never once, and I mean NEVER once, did I utter a bad word about him to my children.  I am very proud of this because it was incredibly difficult.  It was my own personal, on-going exercise in self-discipline.

On the flip side, I have four step-children.  I met the children after dating my husband for a while, when it became obvious we were serious about a long-term relationship with each other.  We all got along great, and although they were all young, that didn’t worry me as I am from a family of six children.  Now, once again being incredibly naïve, I was expecting that I would have an adult relationship with the mother of these children.  I came into the picture two years after the divorce, and from what I had been told by people knowing both my husband and the ex, there was no love lost on either side.  It seemed they cooperated nicely with the responsibilities that come with four young children.  How could I go wrong, right?  LOL  Wrong!

Once it was obvious we were serious, the games began.  Withholding visitation, denying contact via phone, telling the children that they would get back together if it weren’t for me.  We actually got married on a Tuesday, during mid-week visitation, to be able to have the children attend.  Over the years, it has only gotten worse.  There is a thick file folder down at the courthouse  in public records that tells the story.

But it’s the children who have suffered.  The ex has said many things over the years that are simply not true.  She has told the kids that my husband hasn’t paid child support, that he is trying to get them taken away (in fact he did get custody but that’s for another post), that I am the reason she doesn’t have any money.   I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.  How is it edifying to the children to hear any of this even if it WERE true?  It’s not.  The kids have no place being stuck in the middle.  I don’t care what your ex did to you.  That person is still half of that child.  And YOU are the adult.

Emotional warfare.  That’s what it is.  Just like in King Solomon’s day…the person who loves the child will give in, simply to protect.  That is love.