Stepmamahood: My experience

You may or may not know that I am a stepmama to two beautiful girls. The youngest turned 10 last week and the eldest is 16. They were 4 and 10 when I met them for the first time. They made me a stepmother at 22. I knew about them before I let things get serious with my now-husband, and it was something we had thought and talked about a lot. But just like motherhood, I don't think you can ever be completely prepared to become a stepmom. 

At first, it is scary. Parenting is scary. But when it comes to parenting someone else's children, it is a lot scarier. I had a lot of fears, and questions. Will I love them? Will they love me? Will they accept me? What if they don't? And then there is the stigma. The taboo. The negative stereotype of the evil step monster. Stepmother is not a glamorous word, and it reminds most people of one thing: the queen of mean in Cinderella.

For me, becoming a stepmom was also a sacrifice. Not because I had to open my heart and my arms to two children - which was very easy to do - but because I had to let go of my dreams of a 'picture perfect' family. As selfish as it sounds, I found it very difficult at first to have to share my husband with two children that he loves more than anything else. How could I compete with children? I soon realized I was looking at the situation all wrong. This wasn't about competition, or who he loved most. 
The hardest thing of all was surprisingly not the actual parenting, or having to deal with teenage girl drama (although that one is pretty high up on the list). It was the idea that, when we were to have a baby, it wouldn't be his first. I spent months crying every time I saw a movie that dealt with pregnancy, completely heartbroken over the fact that we wouldn't get to experience our first child together. Until I finally understood what my husband had been telling me all along: "It will be our first child together. Everything will be new and different because I'm with you". Turns out I wasted all those tears because having our son has been the most amazing adventure so far. If anything, my husband's experience as a dad made the first few weeks of our baby's life a little less scary! 

I was lucky that my two stepdaughters accepted me in their lives right away. We quickly figured out that we all had the same fear of not being loved, and my love was all they craved. For the past several years, I have been blessed with two little girls who fight over who'd get to sit by me at the dinner table. 

But things are not quite easy. They live on the other side of the country and we don't get to share a routine with them. It is a heartbreaking situation - especially for my husband - but we make the most of the time we have with them during the Summer and school breaks. As they grow older and become teenagers, it is sometimes harder for me to find my place as a legitimate authority figure, and I tend to hold back a bit in order to let my husband have final say. While I am a little softer with them than what I think I should be, I know this is not necessarily a matter of being their stepmom as much as it is a matter of not seeing them often enough. 

Becoming a stepmother made me grow in ways that I could never have imagined. I discovered that I was, at 22, capable of having great mothering instincts. I used to think I was never going to be patient enough, smart enough, good enough to be a good mother. Parenting my husband's daughters taught me that I was all that and more. 

It takes a selfless human being to parent someone else's child. It takes someone who is loving, patient, kind, strong, stronger. It takes a mother. And children, whether we gave them life or they came into ours in a different way, make us just that: moms

Next week, an exciting guest will be sharing her experience as a stemma. Stay tuned! 


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