Mother’s Day, The Hardest Day of the Year for Stepmoms

Tomorrow is Sunday, May 8th, Mother’s Day.  And for those of you who didn’t realize this, STOP READING THIS NOW AND GO BUY YOUR MOM A GIFT!!!!!!  For those of you who have already done so, you may continue reading.

This is the day we get to celebrate and show appreciation to all of the wonderful mothers out there.  I hope one day I can even be half the mother that my mom is today.  My mother lived her life for us kids and now lives her life for us and her grandchildren.  I am so happy my kids get to grow up and have a close relationship with their grandmommy.

Who are we really celebrating on Mother’s Day?  There are so many types of mothers out there that may not carry the actual name Mom.  But on Mother’s Day, whether people admit it or not, society celebrates the biological Mother.

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How to Feel Proud of Your New Role as Stay-at-Home Mom

Love yourself first

Have you ever noticed that most people seem to define themselves by what they do?

“What do you do?” seems to be the question we ask people to find out what type of person they are or who they are. I am just as guilty as anybody of this.

I think it first started for me in college.  “What’s your major?” seemed to be the opening line for every student and every parent.  You couldn’t be in a conversation without hearing it.  And then after graduating, it turned into the “What do you do?” (which to me seemed like pretty much the same question).

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Loneliness of a Stay-at-home Mom

The loneliness of a stay-at-home mom, can be overwhelming but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Webster's dictionary defines loneliness as sadness resulting from being forsaken or abandoned.  Loneliness can also be defined as unhappy as a result of being without the companionship of others.

I'm not sure when it exactly happened.  For me, it didn't just happen overnight.  It happened very slowly, and then all of a sudden I realized I hadn't heard from anyone in days, weeks and maybe even months.

I thought a lot about many different aspects of being a stay-at-home mom before I took the leap.  I knew I didn't function well without adults and outward motivation around me, but I was willing to take on the risk of the emotional toll.

I would not just be a mom of one, because I have step kids as well.  With all of my step kid's activities, I knew I would make maybe a few friends.  But, I forgot one truth about being a stepmom (and an active one at that), other kid's moms don't want to build a relationship with you.  They want to become friends with your child's "real mom".

I don't say that with any malice intent.  No mom has said one unkind word to me and other mothers are always extremely pleasant.  But if we were really honest with ourselves, most people like to mingle with others that are similar to themselves.  That's just kind of human nature.

I have yet to find a stepmom that is as active with their step kids as I am, so making friends has been a struggle for me.  So long story short, being a stay-at-home stepmom has a whole other set of difficulties that I was a little naive about.

In my old life before babies, I had calls from friends and family all of the time, usually during my most busy moments.  We would text or meet for lunch or dinner.  Sometimes we would just hang out or just talk on the phone to catch up on each other's busy lives.  You know, all of the normal stuff friends and family do.  But now that my days are filled with cleaning, laundry, chasing a toddler, being a bonus mom and wife, the calls and texts have stopped.  Not only from friends but from family as well.  Everyone is living their own lives and since I am not close anymore, out of sight out of mind.

When I do see my family or friends, since I have no other outlet, I talk about my kids mainly.  We talk about what we know and since lately that is all I seem to know, people are stuck with it.

Each and every day I get to see my sons and daughters grow up and learn new things.  I love that I get to see all of their firsts.  I don't regret one day of it, but I do miss my old life.  I miss the interaction with others and the desire to be needed and not just as a wife, mother and taxi driver.

Before becoming a SAHM, I needed a certain amount of "me" time to refresh myself. And now, that hasn't changed.  I still need "me" time but somehow many people mistake being at home alone with children, the same as having "me" time.  Well let me tell you, it isn't.  Most of the time I feel like completely isolated and alone.

I don't regret one minute I have spent being a stay-at-home mom.  I feel so lucky that we are able to financially have me be at home, at least for the short term.  I love every smile and pouty lip.  I am extremely fortunate and I constantly need to remind myself of it.  But, for an introvert with extrovert tendencies, this has been harder for me than I ever imagined.

So ultimately, I have to say that the loneliness is the hardest part of being a stay-at-home mom.

I have a few words of advice for women like me, those that have always found most of their self worth working outside the home.  If you are considering becoming a SAHM, ask yourself these questions.

  • Can we afford to be a SAHM?
  • Am I more of an introvert or extrovert?
  • Am I good at working alone, with no direction?
  • Am I an organized person?
  • Will my spouse treat me as an equal if I am not working outside of the home?
  • Is being a SAHM worth sacrificing my career ambition?
  • How long am I willing or wanting to stay at home?
  • Ultimately, will I resent my children if I stay at home?

 

These are all very important things to think about when making the decision to stay at home.  This is not a decision to make lightly or alone.

If you decide to take on the role of a stay-at-home mom like me (for however long), be aware that loneliness can hit you out of the blue.  So I put together a few ways to fight the loneliness:

  1. Make a routine
  2. Get out of the house
  3. Find an outlet that is all yours
  4. Openly communicate with your spouse
  5. Find a mom's group in your area, in person or online
  6. Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor because loneliness can turn into depression

Loneliness may be a part of my life as a stay-at-home mom, but it doesn't define me.  Each and every day I am blessed to watch my kids grow and blossom into the future exceptional adults I know they are going to be.  Although there may be moments of lonely tears, the most meaningful tears are from happiness and laughter.  And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

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Life After Divorce for a Stepmom

What happens when a stepmom is no longer a stepmom?

Being a stepmom is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs I have ever undertaken.  But what happens to a stepmom when the birth dad and stepmom divorce?

This is a topic that is very rarely spoken of.  But with approximately 67% of second marriages ending in divorce, and some studies say that bringing children in from a previous marriage increases the chance of divorce by 15%, it is a reality for many.  What happens when the Stepmom stops being a stepmom?

As stepparents, we are told to treat our step kids no different than birth kids.  As a stepmom we are to love and be a "mom" to our step kids.  Stepmom duties may seem very familiar to moms.  I make breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I take my kids to doctors appointments and play dates.  I help with homework and drive kids to Girl Scouts, tennis or baseball practice.  I am there cheering at plays or rugby games.

We are "mom" to our kids but do not get the credit of being the child's mom.  Now, when I became a stepmom I kind of knew this would be the case but I embraced my role anyway.

But nobody ever seems to talk about the "after".  I guess to be honest, nobody really wants to think about divorce or believes it will never happen to them.  They say blood is thicker than water.  That statement is very powerful to the divorced stepmom.

I was once told by a long time stepmom, that even during the toughest times of her marriage, she knew she could never walk away because if she did, she would never see her kids (two of them legally step kids) again.  To me that was such a shocking admission but all too true.

Stepparents have the job and responsibilities of a mom, but have no legal rights like a birth parent, unless they have legally adopted the stepchild.  For those of us who live and die for our kids, no matter if they were born to us or not, this is the hardest part of being a stepparent.  And I caution those who are going to become a stepparent, be aware of this truth but don't let it hold you hostage.

Years after my divorce, I learned that some states are trying to bring some rights to stepparents, even in divorce.  Those states have enacted laws that grant grandparents visitation rights, and stepparents are fighting for those same privileges.

Many lawyers will encourage just dealing with this outside of the divorce documents, but think long and hard about what is best for your family.  But even if your state has rights, I believe the real question should be what is best for each member of the family.

After the divorce papers are signed, it is really up to the ex-spouse if visitations are permitted with the step kids, if it is not clearly stated in legal documents.  Remember every divorce is different.  Some ex-spouses don't want the ex-stepparent to have contact with their children.  They want to start a new life, and really I can't blame them.  After all, they are trying to protect their kids from any pain and disappointment.

My advice, keep your door open.  If you want to continue to be a part of your step kids lives', make sure they know they are always welcome.  Whether that is sending cards, emails, texts or phone calls, let them know you love them and will always be there.  Sometimes the results will not be in your favor and sometimes they will.  Just know that you were the best stepmom you could be and hopefully they are better people for it.

One day, I hope my step kids from my first marriage will want to be a part of my life, but no matter what, I will always love them.  They will always have a piece of my heart.  And I am so thankful, that even for a short time, I got to be a part of their life.

 

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