WLet me start off by saying that obviously every family dynamic is different, and each family has to find their own groove that works best for them. This is just what works best for me and my blended family.
In our family I do fully embrace my stepmama role.
I meal plan. I plan activities. I cuddle and snuggle. I read books and help color. I teach them life lessons, and I help them understand right and wrong. I pick out clothes. (this one is probably my favorite! lol) I help establish boundaries. I fully fulfill the maternal role in our family dynamic.
That being said, I do not try to replace their mother.
I know that the bond with their BioMom is something completely special that I could never replace. And I would never want to! I just want them to have that maternal guidance from me as well. The stepmom love is different from a BioMom, but it is strong and it is important. (I mean, mom is in our title…)
I do believe if you are going to take on the stepmom role that you should be fully prepared to be a maternal figure to those babies.
I do not take a backseat to Dan when it comes to parenting my stepkids. We tackle everything in our family as a team. We consult each other and support each other. In our family I cannot imagine it any other way. It may be because we have the kids for extended periods of time when we get them instead of only a week or weekend at a time. They need that maternal guidance in their home life during that time, and in our home it is my role. It may be because I have been in the kids lives since they were very young (20 months and 4.5 years). Either way, it works best for us if we parent together. We both take care of bedtime, getting ready, boo-boo’s, playtime, meals, and everything in-between. And I enjoy it too!
Also, I would feel kinda crappy about leaving Dan to do it all by himself. In my mind that is just not how family works.
Our family dynamic may be this way because I have been in the kids lives since such a young age, and it may change when they get older. Since the beginning I was helping change diapers, helping to potty train, teaching how to tie shoes, and doing school pick-ups.
(Quick potty-training story! – When Farrah was first sans diaper we would sometimes let her run around in just her panties for quick potty access! One day, (before they moved) Noah had brought home some artwork from pre-school. We were admiring this life size poster snowman he had made and laid it out on the kitchen floor. Farrah started walking on top of said snowman. and, bless her little heart, she started leaking on him! Noah just started laughing and said, “Now he’s a yellow snowman!” To this day we still laugh and joke about Noah’s yellow snowman!)
I think me being there in the beginning for such big milestones (like potty training) has shaped our family dynamic drastically. I do believe it would be different if Noah and Farrah had been older when I entered their lives, and it may be different when they get older. But for now, this is what works for our little blended family tribe.
Some women are afraid to fully embrace the maternal role of their stepmotherhood.
It is true that sometimes we feel like we should limit our involvement because of the outside scrutiny, but sometimes we want to refrain from loving with our whole hearts because we know these babies aren’t inherently programmed to love us through a blood connection and in turn could stop loving whenever they choose. Children have a biological obligation to their mother and father, but they have to choose to love a step-parent. This frightens some stepmoms. They fear that one day their love won’t be returned, and unfortunately, sometimes these fears become a reality. Sometimes stepkids do turn on their stepparents. (whether out of some sort of “alliance” with the other parents, out of their own way of coping with issues stemming from their parents divorce, or any other number of reasons.) This is a very heartbreaking thing to think about, but it can’t stop us from giving these kids our hearts. Any relationship has a possibility of going south. Any time you allow your heart to be vulnerable to another person you are opening yourself up to the possibility of heartbreak. By not giving your stepkids your full love you are not saving yourself from future heartbreak, you are actually showing that you have a lack of faith in your blended family. So give them your whole heart. Love those babies with everything you have. If you get hurt, then at least you know that you tried your best and gave it your all. However, I bet if you do love them fully that they will learn to be grateful and accepting, and most likely reciprocate the love!
Sometimes we don’t want to overstep these invisible boundaries so we keep ourselves from going all in. We are afraid of what outsiders may say. We don’t want to step on any toes or break any social norms. I am the biggest over-thinker there is, and I often get nervous about what others think about my family. I wonder if people think I’m out of line with my high level of involvement with my stepkids, but then I think of how crazy that is! Not only is my family dynamic not anyone else’s business, but how dare they say that my stepkids don’t deserve all the love they can get! Why would anyone criticize me for loving them too much? Kids can never have too many people rooting for them, and they can never have too many people to love them. As long as I am not out here trying to make these kids call me “mom” or completely changing their value system, then I am not overstepping any boundaries by loving them. (These are both blog posts for another time.) People outside of your family have no authority on your family dynamic. You love those little ones as much as you can, you teach them as much as you can, and you be the best stepmom you can be for them!
Stepmama, whatever your reasoning, don’t be afraid to fully embrace the maternal role of being a stepmom.
It may be just what your family needs to thrive.
Love your family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.
xo – jessicanicole.