The “Steppin’ Together: Why Stepmoms Need Eachother” article in the July issue of StepMom Magazine surprised me a bit. It discusses the isolation step-moms feel, and the thought that went through my head is: How is that possible with the divorce rate so high?”. So, after some reflection, I remembered that when I first got married and became a step-mom, I felt very isolated. Very few of my friends were married, let alone in a step-parent situation and honestly, Facebook and other social media platforms were just starting or hadn’t even been thought of yet (insert an “I’m feeling old” moment here). I remember going to the library to try to find books to help guide me in my new role as step-mom and there weren’t any! There were a few about being a stepfather, but none for stepmothers. I was shocked. I looked for a local support group of some kind, and again, they were for stepfathers. Thankfully, social media helps connect whoever wants to connect to others, you just have to use the right search term. If you are an extrovert like me, this article also takes you through how to launch an in-person group because, at the end of the day, sometimes all you need is a hug from someone who has been there, done that, and doesn’t want to “fix” everything for you like so many of your family members want to do.
In “Love Them Like Your Own: What Stepmoms Should Know About This Well-Intentioned but Misguided Advice“, all the “shoulds” that people who aren’t step-parents tell a step-mother. You “should:
- just be nice and they’ll warm up to you
- have his ex over for the holidays
- be friends with her
- be able to ‘blend’ your ‘family together with good intentions alone
- love them just like they’re your own”
In my opinion, the author sums it up perfectly: “When you hear ‘should’ regarding anything stepmotherhood-related, resolve to ignore the ‘advice’ until you get some information based on the research and facts about step-life and step-dynamics”. I’m a firm believer that the word “should” is full of guilt and no one needs the extra pressure of what we “should” and “shouldn’t” do in our step-parent role. Being a new step-parent is hard enough. Let’s not add the guilt of should.
I think the article “School’s Out: Sanity Saving Tips for the Summer” is good for any parent, not just a step-parent. The author reminds you to take some “Me Time” throughout the summer because you’re a better parent if you do. It also gives you “permission” to just spend a day at home, doing nothing. I don’t like to overschedule my kids…my son especially has A LOT on his plate with his 25 hours per week of IBI therapy. Sometimes, it’s nice to spend an hour outside in our garden, using chalk on the sidewalk, or just going for a walk around our cul-de-sac.
“StepMom Chat Rooms: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” reminds us how chat rooms can be a great resource, but can also spiral out of control quickly. The “ugly” part is when step-moms can be extremely critical of the ex-wives, and say things they would not necessarily say in person – the “benefits” of anonymity. When I was married, I’ll admit, I jumped on the bandwagon too. I believed my then husband’s side of the story of their relationship, but the reality is that I became part of his life story after all the nastiness had dissipated (for the most part). Now, being able to talk with my stepdaughter and her mother, I see many commonalities between our relationships with him, and how my marriage to him ended as well. So, my advice (from having been there), is to remember that all “truths” about relationships is purely one person’s interpretation of the relationship.
You are also reminded to remember to be safe online by using a pseudonym, and non-identifying information when discussing anything in the chat rooms.
In a refreshing twist, the article “Dancing With Myself: Rejected, Alienated and Balancing on the Edge of Motherhood” was a letter from a 2nd wife to the 1st wife, never wanting/expecting the letter to be written. She recognizes why she is shut out and pushed away, as she herself is a child of divorce. She respects her stepchild for keeping her at a distance at all the family celebrations, and saying all the hurtful things like “you and I will NEVER have a relationship. You and I will NEVER be friends”, while recognizing her own part in the game of sticks and stones. At the end of the letter though, 2nd wife tells 1st wife: “You are the mother of the children I have loved for all these years. You have brought a joy to my life that I will never be able to reciprocate. You will always have a place in my heart, just as your children do…”.
Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.