I’m honored to feature this article from fellow stepmom and friend, Beth McDonough of BabblingBlonde.com.
I met Beth at a networking event I organized for stepmoms in Toronto this past summer. Beth’s openness and vulnerability in sharing her experience as a same-sex step-couple were truly inspirational. Despite Beth’s unique experience being part of a “nontraditional family within a nontraditional family”, her triumphs as a stepmom are so commendable.
She’s taught me that as stepmoms, we have more in common than what makes us different. I hope you enjoy this honest perspective and can’t wait to hear your feedback. Also, be sure to read to the end and check out the link for my guest post on BabblingBlonde.com
The Stepmom Community: A Welcoming Home for a Perpetual Outsider
By Beth McDonough of the Babbling Blonde
At so many pivotal points through my life, I have found myself at a moment where I’m eager yet afraid to join communities as an outsider. It might be the only child in me, but I continuously feel like that vulnerable one who arrives late to the party and hopes she will be welcomed, instead of having the door closed in my face.
I came out as bisexual later in life than most people do these days. At 28 years old, I didn’t realize that my sexuality was fluid until I met my wife. By the time I came to terms with who I am, I felt more like a wannabe than a genuine member of the LGBTQ community. I hadn’t spent my life struggling with who I was. In fact, I was happily heterosexual until faced with my “type” of woman, who just never happened to cross my path in the mountains of West Virginia where I grew up. As a bisexual, I still feel like I take up this awkward space with one foot in the heteronormative world, and one foot marching in the pride parades.
Once I married my wife, I became a newbie in yet another community, and also a bit of an outsider. I’m part of a nontraditional family within a nontraditional family, and I know exactly zero other stepmoms like me. So what could I possibly have to offer this community, and would they accept me, as different as I am?
When Anna de Acosta reached out to me about participating in this summertime gathering of stepmom influencers, I was hesitantly excited, and felt cautiously validated. I had been following Anna for a while because I loved her vibe and her message of mindful living and the practice of trusting your sense of self and intuition. My first immediate thoughts were “these women want to hear what I have to say?” combined with “what in the world do I even have to say that they’ll want to hear?”
Anna helped me craft my message simply me telling me what questions she had for someone in a same-sex stepfamily. My family dynamic might be different, but my pain points are the same, and we all share them. Anna’s message of learning to listen to our inner voice, which she shared more of during our event, has been monumental for me and the process of learning to be authentic and proud of the place I hold within this community. She continuously reminded us that we all have an important message to share, and if we were all the same then well, that would be pretty boring right?
Photo credits SocialStepmom.com
The beauty of this event that Anna put together was that it put real faces to the spirit and energy that every stepmom brings to this community. We each wake up every day as stepmoms without a handbook, without a one size fits all solution to the problems we face. What we have at the end of the day is each other, a group of women with shared experiences and unique perspectives to provide support for the bumps and successes along our individual journeys.
When I knocked on Sarah Patterson’s door in Toronto and met all of these women in person, I wasn’t just welcomed inside, I was celebrated. I no longer feel like an outsider trying to figure out if I have a place. I feel like a valued member of a community that feels not like a place I’m visiting, but a place and people that feel like home. Now, I look forward to celebrating every single stepmom I meet for exactly who they are. Let’s share the wins, commiserate over the losses, and be proud of our differences, together.