... then I became a biomom & full-time stepmom!
Now she gets to be the “fun one”, the “cool one” that takes them to exciting places on the weekends, the one that takes them out for junk-food, is put-together, keeps her cool and doesn’t lose her mind because she only sees them a limited time.
That used to be me when I was the part-time stepmom.
Now that I’m with the kids full-time, I get to experience what it’s like now that the tables have turned. I get to be the disciplinary one, the one that feeds them vegetables, the one that gets cranky when they don’t eat those vegetables, and the one that loses her mind every now and then because having four kids full-time is a lot to manage.
I get to be the one who gives-in to their complaining and feeds them store-bought, frozen hamburgers for lunch. The one that feels like a failure every time I give-in or lose my cool in front of them.
To make it even more difficult, you can imagine which one of the above moms a child would naturally prefer (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the veggie-feeding one).
For me, being a full-time stepmom has been a lot easier overall, but at the same time so much harder. The tables have turned, and as cliché goes, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’.
When I was the part-time childless stepmom, I complained about having to put up with certain ‘bad’ behaviours from the kids. They weren’t being raised by my high standards, and I couldn’t do much about it because I only had the kids part-time. With my husband’s support, I could enforce rules in my own home, but those rules ended as soon as they went back to moms’ house.
I’m going to be boldly honest and just say it – I thought they weren’t being raised ‘properly’. I thought my way was better. I used to condescendingly and naively thinking that I could do it better.
Well I got what I wished for, the kids are with us full-time. I’m doing it my way now... and I now realize how hard we stepmoms can be on the biomoms (and vice-versa).
They are only doing what any of us do… the best they can.
I’m blessed to have my husband by my side though it all, and can’t imagine what it must be like as a single mom. I’m sure that my ‘best’ in that situation would probably be pretty pathetic. It’s not an easy place to be at all.
Our society is so judgemental of mothers in general. The ‘perfect mother’ stereotype is so indoctrinated into our culture. When we don’t have kids, we never think that we will be one of those ‘bad moms’ who lets the kids stay up past their bedtime on a school night, forgets about their homework, lets them drink soda pop after 9pm, or forgets to pick them up from school.
Expectations are even worse for stepmoms. We are unrealistically supposed to love our step-kids from day 1 and provide for them as a mother would – even though that biological connection that makes mothering rewarding (and tolerable) is simply not there.
In many cases, the truth is simple but hard to accept:
We all do the best we can with what we’ve got, and that is enough.
We pray that what we do is enough to raise happy, thriving little ones who will turn into successful adults one day, and more often than not, it is enough.
We are enough. Our kids are set to go on the journey that they need to go on. They will evolve and grow.
Being a mother of any kind is a selfless and often difficult path to walk, and trying to live-up to society’s perfect standards of what a mother “should” be can really wear us down.
We often perpetuate those expectations by comparing ourselves and judging one another.
We project a façade that we’ve got it all together.
The truth is that nobody has it all together, each one of us has a unique way of doing things, we each have our own answers, and what works for one person doesn’t work for another… and that’s okay.
It’s okay for us to have needs too, it’s okay for us to take care of ourselves, it’s okay to take a time-out.
Our children will get what they need from us, and things will be okay.
We can trust that we are enough, and inspire our children by taking good care of ourselves and living our life’s purpose. We can shine our light brightly - we don’t need to dim it down.
Our example can be their inspiration. Instead of reinforcing the cultural learning of that self-sacrificing mother stereotype (that ultimately brings us all down), we can lead by example and show our children a different way - the self-loving and self-appreciative way.
In the spirit of sisterhood, lets show a little more compassion to those full-time moms, single-moms and stepmoms, who truly go through the ringer and stick it out for the children’s best interests.
Instead of judging one another, let’s praise one another as mothers and women, and raise one another up for all that we do.
We're all just doing the best we can with what we've got.
Share this post with a special mom in your life who may need to hear this message – you’re valuable, your needs matter, and you can follow your heart and be an example for your children to do the same.