Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the StepMom

We've been waiting for this post for a while...as you know, Kate is part of a blended family, and McLovin has jumped into that icy cold water that is called StepParentHood. It's one of the hardest juggling acts in the world -- get along with the other parent, raise a couple of awesome inherited kids, but have very little power and decision making abilities for these kids.

So when Christie sent us this, we knew we had struck gold...

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I'm Evil Stepmother, and I'm very new to the blogging world -- as in my blog, Confessions of an Evil Stepmother, is literally weeks old -- So, needless to say, I am thrilled to be on MommyLand, which just happens to be my favorite blog.


I'm just your typical, boring Midwestern soccer mom. With one exception. I didn't give birth to my little soccer stars. No, I inherited a ready-made family when I moved to Iowa to be with my now husband. We share 50/50 custody and live within one mile of the kids' mom, First Wife. On purpose.


My stepdaughter, Skinny Minnie, is just about to turn eleven, and is so much like me that we defy the laws of genetics. Then there's Quiz, my 5-year old stepson. He makes me laugh and exhausts me with his energy and never-ending questions.


We don't pay much attention to biology and legalities in our house. We are a family, and I am just as frustrated, tired, buried in laundry, and in love with my kids as any other mom.


So I face all the normal Domestic Enemies, along with a few others.


The Question

"When are you going to have your own kids?" I hear it All. The. Time. From family, friends, the photographer at Sears, you name it. I have lived with my 2 stepmonkeys since May 2007, so it irritates me when someone asks me when I'm going to have "my own" kids. I've been helping to raise them since they were 6 and 18 months old. How long did it take you to fall in love with your kids? Less than 4 years? More like, in an instant, right? That's what I thought. Same for me.


I go to every play/soccer game/swim lesson. I've been cried on, bled on, thrown up on. I've stayed home with them when they're sick. To me, they ARE my kids. So if you need to ask something that's none of your business, ask me when I'm going to have MORE kids.


The Schedule

We live by The Schedule. No one messes with The Schedule. I'm pretty sure Maude herself set The Schedule. But, The Schedule is also a pain in my you-know-what.Want to take the kids to the fireworks for the 4th of July? Wait, whose year is it? Did we take them last year? Let me check The Schedule. Everything we do requires coordinating, emailing, and negotiating.


The Family

These kids are loved. By a LOT of people. Given that they have two sets of parents, that means four sets of grandparents, three sets of great grandparents, and more aunts and uncles and cousins than I care to count. And they ALL want to see the kids for birthdays, holidays, special family events, Arbor Day and all summer long.

This is great, and I love that the kids have people who will literally FIGHT for them, but it reeks havoc on The Schedule. Christmas? Forget it. The poor kids spend more time in the car than they do enjoying the holiday. "Oh, I'm glad you got that Transformer you wanted, but no you can't open it because we have to get going to the next place." On Christmas, we are a traveling circus complete with frustrated, tired, and over stimulated kids.

Maybe the stepmonkeys should get a booking agent.


The Limitations

Being a Stepparent is fairly limiting. Even though I take care of these kids 50% of the time and love them 100% of the time, there are certain things about their lives that I can't control. Some things, like choosing a daycare, making medical decisions, and deciding if ten is too young for a cell phone just fall outside of my jurisdiction. And I understand why. But it is still frustrating. First Wife and I once had words because I let Minnie get a shorter haircut. Now, in my opinion, ten is old enough to decide for yourself which hairstyle to get. But I should have checked. This is a team effort, and everything is voted on by committee. Lesson learned.


The Fear

The Fear is something else to us stepmoms. Yes, I constantly worry about food poisoning, sunburns, jungle gyms set over concrete, and run away school buses, but there is something much scarier. You see, if anything ever happens to my husband (God forbid) or if we ever split up, I lose my. entire. family. I have no rights. My rights to my kids are dependent upon being married to my husband. So when he and I fight, even if I KNOW everything will eventually work out, The Fear is there. Lurking.


The Fear is big. The Fear never leaves. The Fear makes me grateful for every moment with my kids.


The Stereotypes

Damn Cinderella and her Evil Stepmother for giving us such a bad rap. Apparently, I should have been issued a Regulation Hairy Wart to wear the day I married my husband. Here's the thing. I'm (mostly) not evil, and I don't ever want to replace the stepmonkeys' mom. They love her and always will. I just want to love them too.

Hairy warts and all...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

53 comments:

  1. All I have to say is why couldn't you have been my stepmom, b/c she really did suck. Those are some darn lucky kids!

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  2. From Kristen -

    I really appreciate you posting this, so in return, I have question for all those step-moms out there. How do you accept the new step-mom into your family if she was "the mistress"?

    I was married for 12 years, with 2 small kids. The announcement of the affair and the following divorce were unexpected. I took the high road and kept things very civil, considering the circumstances. I had no delusions that ex-husband would never marry again. However, I was unprepared for him to marry "her", 4 weeks after the divorce was final.

    She is an ok person, but I still have issues with the woman who broke up my marriage (along with the ex) raising my children. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get over this?

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  3. great post! thank you thank you thank you.
    with each of your DE posts that relate to my situations, i realize maybe i'm not doing such a horrible job .... hopefully these IHPs *will* turn out decent and all that fun stuff.
    now i have to get back to being Switzerland for WWIII - the 6 month old thinks he's 18 months old and therefore is allowed to beat up on the IHP that really *is* 18 months old ... all while they share literally a box of those frozen waffles - for breakfast!
    Dear Maude ... where did I put my sustianance of life!??!! I really need to figure out how to mainline my doses of coffee....

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  4. Kristin - I am in the same boat (although it took a wee bit more than 4 weeks to marry "her.").

    I wish that this lady, if it had to happen to my family, would be our "extra" parent...my ex and his "new" wife moved away and then make me jump hoops and want the entire "SCHEDULE" rearranged constantly to fit THEIR lives. Hmmm, why do I resent it? Move away with her, ditch your family, then expect us to bend over backwards every time you gallop through town? Not happening on my watch.

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  5. Great post! I am a stepmom to a great 7 year old boy who I would do absolutely anything for. I also get frustrated when people ask when will I have "my own" because it completely disregards the fact that I consider him my own. It is also so refreshing to see that someone else gets along with and recognizes the importance in working to have a good relationship with the their mom.

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  6. Step-parents who do it well deserve praise in the highest form. Divorce isn't easy on anyone. Especially the kids. Even grown kids still struggle with The Schedule and not hurting feelings during the holidays. Making sure our children see both sets of my husband's parents during Christmas/birthdays/etc wears ME out, and I'm 30! I can only imagine how young kids must feel.

    Good job, Evil Stepmother! :)

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  7. Another domestic enemy: child support. While I know it's never enough, it's also way too much!

    To Kristen: if you haven't already done this, talk to a therapist. He/she will help you work through the confusion, anger, hurt, etc. Also remember that you don't have to be best friends with this woman, just be civil on the rare occasions you have to see her. Good luck!

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  8. Kristen and anonymous -

    my father married 'the mistress' very quickly after my parents' divorce was final. The way I think about it is this: if you are going to have an affair and wreck a marriage, it had damn well better be with someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. It somehow made all the pain a little more bearable, or at the very least less inane, to know that my father was very happy. They've been married now for twenty years...

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  9. You basically just described my childhood exactly (especially the bit about Christmas and The Schedule). So, the good news is the kids will turn out just fine (or at least, I think I did :) ). And you sound like you're doing an amazing job. My parents always worked together amicably and I think my brother and I were better for it. I will say there were times I resented my stepparents, but more because I was an extra bratty teen, not because my stepparents were doing anything wrong. I'll hope your kids skip that step of life (though all of us are probably doomed there. We can still hope).

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  10. I had never, ever considered The Fear. Not for a second. I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for step-parents but that blows me away. Not sure I'd be able to do it! Kudos to you for not only doing it but obviously rocking it! Those are some seriously lucky kids.

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  11. Liz - Chief of my litle tribe of 3July 26, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    Thank you so much for this post! I was in the same boat for the first 2 years of my "Squeaker"s life (literally - I've raised him since he was 2 months old!) Every one of these DE's hit home. His daddy wouldn't have ANYTHING to do with BioMom, so I had to run interference and keep things civil (not easy when BioMom was a psycho back then). In any case, I was blessed enough to adopt Squeaker in 2008, but I still remember how awful things were. BioMom and I are now on friendly terms, and Squeaker's dad has nothing to do with her whatsoever. To the ladies still dealing with these DE's, I wish you the best of luck and hope that things always turn out for the best!

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  12. Right in the heart. Perfect. From one step to another, THANK YOU!!!!

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  13. Great post. The Fear is somethign I would have never thought of but I can't even imagine the sucktitude of it.

    Julie
    ilikebeerandbabies.blogspot.com

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  14. Courts have now started allowing third party visitation to non biological parents, so, if something did happen to your step-kids dad, and the biological mom would not let you see your children, well, the courts may say otherwise. No one wants a court battle, however, the courts have decided in best interest of child in many cases. It is a changing world, and the rights of non biological parents are being heard.

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  15. Let me just apologize for us well-meaning people who see someone we have not talked with in several years (yes, even with facebook, that still happens) and 4 years ago, you didn't have a kid and now you have a 7 year old and it takes us a minute to catch up.
    We're not trying to be assholes. We're not trying to negate the fact that you're an awesome mom. We just need a moment to connect the dots.
    I cannot imagine having that added fear of losing your kiddos through divorce. You are AMAZING!!

    Brandi

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  16. First I have to say, my dad and stepmother were married for 25 years before he left her, and I see her a whole lot more than him. My kids call her Nanna, and there is no better gift than to have three grandmothers who think you hung the moon. Family is who you choose, not just who is related.

    But second, I have to say, the Christmas thing irks me to NO END. Someone has to man up (or woman up)and put the KIDS first. Christmas is the season, not just the day. We used to travel between just two grandparents when my oldest was little, and we finally said enough, the kids deserve to just play. Plus, then the kids get more than one Christmas!

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  17. What I would write:

    Domestic Enemies of the Young Mom. Not teen mom, just looks like teen mom. Yes this toddler is mine. Yes, I was married when I conceived her and gave birth to her, and as lately as this morning I am still married, thanks.

    Being in Utah it is somewhat common to be a Young Mom... but only if you are of LDS persuasion. Otherwise you are obviously a hooker meth addict. God forbid you be of another religion, or GASP, an atheist!

    So, being a college student, mother, wife, and also holder of a full-time job... I have many domestic enemies.

    Older Moms
    They are everywhere. Usually with two kids or less and a stare of disapproval as I am checking out at Win-Co with my cart 1/4 full. I clearly should be buying more food. Is my kid screaming? Probably. Disapproving glare is DOUBLED. Does this mean you should come over and offer me advice? Comment on how cute (and skinny!) my two year old is? I will punch you in the babymaker, mama.



    Jealous (stupid) Single Women

    At my last job, I had a female colleague that made at least 4 times what I made by working much much less. One might have seen her as a career role model. The minute I told her about my toddler and husband (She ASKED!) she started hating me. We work in the healthcare industry and see many patients daily. Every single woman she asks about their romantic and family situation, and also their age. Obviously she is running some kind of poll or survey. I clearly failed.

    I tried to explain to baby hungry moron that being single is AWESOME and if she really wants a kid, go for it. She informed me that this is "not her dream". Hah! Having this chat with you was obviously my dream.

    I am sure I could think of more... but I have to go to mom stuff now.

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  18. Dear Evil Stepmom,
    Being a fellow stepmom, I just have to say "Thank you" for helping others understand what it's like to be one. I have 3 grown children of my own from my first marriage. In Feb 2010 I married a military man and his twin 5 year-olds (boy and girl). I became their god-mother while they were still in their NICU cubicles. Their Bio-mom was not a part of their lives since they left the hospital. However, they were raised by my husband's parents (for the most part) because he was deployed to Iraq 3 times since they were born. Their grandmother is a very good friend of mine and the transition from her being mommy to me being their mother was tricky at best. There was a slight tug-of-war with her letting go of the reigns and me trying to pick them up. :o) That we have been able to maintain our good friendship has been a blessing. I think the most helpful part about it was that we moved to Germany a few months later so the transition from mother to grandmother for her and "Auntie Trudy" to "Mommy" for me was kind of forced on us.
    I too suffer from "The Fear". I worry what will happen to my children if something were to happen to my soldier husband.
    Thankfully, we don't have to deal with their biological mother (whom the kids call "The Bad Mommy") but we do include her family, wonderful people, in the children's lives. We haven't had the issue of "The Schedule". Being sent so far away from family and all that is familiar has been hard but it does have it's benefits.

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  19. Brava!!! From one wicked step mom to another I applaud you! You have given voice to MANY of the things that I have always said.

    One difference I had more children. Never once have I referred to my step son as anything other than my son or as a brother to his siblings. I have often wondered why we as a society need to ubber define family relationships therefore creating boundaries and lines.

    Family isn't always blood connections, sometimes its who you choose.

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  20. Thanks for defining the FEAR. Mine is not exactly the same, but it's nice to have a name for that monster. My nephew is living with us, we are his legal guardians, and we are moving to adoption. He sees his Mom, and she maintains all her legal rights at this point in the game. I want him to know her, love her...but now he's been my child for 8 months. What if she changes her mind? He's at her house now, and I'm struggling with the FEAR!

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  21. Wow. Nicely put! Between the Fear and the Christmas thing... Yes. Omg yes. I've been with my step son since he was born (dh and mom split while she was expecting). Thankfully we get along well but man, this can certainly be a challenge some days! I just had my second child 5 days ago and I'm going to square up with the next person that asks when we are having a "second". I now have a beautiful daughter and an amazing son and all we are focusing on now is not screwing it up!

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  22. I've been waiting for this one (and considered submitting my own to speed up the process.) I'm a proud custodial stepmom to two, who have lived with me longer than they ever did with their mom. I, too, have been through it all with them - from ER visits to sex talks. I, too, am afraid that they'll be torn from me some day. Thanks for telling our story, Evil Stepmother.

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  23. This was a great post! I was so horrible to my Step Mother when I was a teenager and not super nice when I was an adult. Then I had kids and I watched her absolute love and adoration for grandchildren that are not genetically hers. That was the day I "forgave" her and also got over my own crap and apologized for all of the horrible things I'd done. She is still a super and amazing Grandma and I feel blessed to have her in our lives!

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  24. I was a step-mom for several years to two brilliant, beautiful, teen-aged kids. When we divorced, I lost them. They are both in their 20s now, and we have went from no contact to occasional emails and photos.

    I miss them every day. And even though the law says no part of them is "mine" - my heart strongly disagrees.

    I miss those kids far more than I have EVER missed their dad.

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  25. I swear you are in my head! I am a step-mom to 3 boys, ages 6, 7, and 9. Hubs has full custody and I've been raising them since they were 4, 2 and 1. Keep on blogging lady!

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  26. Thanks for all the amazing comments. It's so nice to know that I'm not alone.

    Rock on, stepmoms!

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  27. Wow, another "Evil Stepmother"! I'm step-mom to now 19 and 17 year old young ladies and a 14 year old boy and have been since the girls were in grade 3 and 4. They live with us full time and the boy comes out for school vacations. Our running joke is that I am the "evil stepmother" of Disney fame and was once told by the little guy that I wasn't doing it right. When we asked him what he meant, he said I wasn't being evil enough and I just need to try harder, otherwise his other family (bio-mom, etc. ) would run out of things to say about me! Even at 8 years old he had a wicked sense of humour and it just goes to show how long kids ears can be. He felt bad for me whenever his grandmother and bio-mom would tear me down.

    To all the other step-moms out there worried about losing your kids, don't be. Biological parents forget that love isn't forged through blood ties alone, and even if they are too young to fight to stay with you immediately, they will eventually reach an age where they are capable of looking back and examining the behaviour of their parents and judging it. Once my girls got to that point, they decided that their bio-mom always put herself first at their cost and had their last names legally changed to add my maiden name (which I don't use). At the end of the day, kids always know who loves them and they develop their own ideas about what makes a good parent.

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  28. My fiance and I both ended up in blended families, me as a teenager with a wonderful woman waaay more able to handler her man's (my dad's) 4 teenage children than our own mother could; him with Dad's girlfriends coming and going, until he finally settled down with another wonderful woman! We both have stepsiblings quite a few years younger than us.

    I met my stepmom years before my dad met her, and I loved her then. I hated, as a teenager, the way they came together (the mistress), but she stepped in and filled the role I never knew was missing from my life. My father is one of those "out-of-sight-out-of-mind" types, so when we all grew up and slowly moved out, he lost touch with us. They live 20 minutes away, and it is soo hard to not see my "other mom" as often as I'd like.

    The "schedule" is a perfect example not only for stepparents, but for the grandchildren involved, too! We have 4 sets of grandparents for our children to go see on holidays, and one lives 2 hours away. After my daughter's 2nd Christmas, I had to say "Enough is enough." We didn't get to open our presents at home til an hour AFTER her bedtime!!! Hard on a young toddler! So as much as I love all 4 sets of our parents, we finally had to tell them that THEY can go around OUR schedule, which sucks when there's a total of 12 children and 12.5 grandchildren (so far) involved on both sides of our family!!! I have to agree with whoever said "Holiday SEASON," because that's what we're going to have to do soon!

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  29. after my mom died I ended up with a "step mom" 2 years later. she was/is evil and I can only bring myself to refer to her by her first name or "my dad's wife"
    bit of advice for step moms who step into that roll with a teen. Don't. sure, marry their father, but don't jump in as the step mom and start taking charge! that was over 20 years ago and it is still causing problems.

    however, I have been divorced with 2 kids and remarried when they were 4 and 7. My children started referring to my darling husband as "new Dad" well before we were engaged. as time went on they changed the dad titles to "good dad" (my husband) and "bad dad" (the ex) and eventually just started calling them Dad and "him" or a variety of other names for the ex.
    he eventually drifted away and the kids cheer and say good riddance so until this 'Domestic Enemies' post I had forgotten about The Schedule, although I still have a very hard time doing anything spontaneously with my children. it has been nice getting to forget about The Schedule.

    and the Fear. it isn't just my husband's.
    my Fear has evolved and shifted over the years. eventually settling to one big one for me. even though I have Full Custody, both legal and physical, if something were to happen to me, the system would offer up my two oldest children to "him" I call that terror!

    since Husband and I have been married, we've had 3 more children. there have been so many days that he has come home from work so annoyed after chatting with someone who asks "how many kids do you have?" "5" "how many are yours?" "ALL of them!"

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  30. Love this! My mom has been married to "not-my-real-Dad" for the last 20 years. He refers to me as his daughter and I call him my dad even though "real dad" is still in my life, very much. But to me he's just another Dad, another granddad for my blessed kids..and a saint for putting up with me through the teenage years! I'm lucky to have an extra dad just as your stepmonkeys are lucky to have YOU! God bless.

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  31. I was really hoping for more for the stepmoms who are there full-time and are counting down till the kids are out of the house. You know the ones who no matter what will always be evil and the bad guy. Being a stepmom is the hardest, most unrewarding job in the world. It sucks monkey balls. I wish our situation was half as wonderful as this author's.

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  32. I have been blessed with two "evil" stepmoms and love them both. My father has had issues with marriage and is now on his third. My first stepmom entered my life when I was 5 years old and temporarily left when I was 16. That was one of the hardest things to deal with as a child. While she wasn't my mom, she was the next closest thing to it and it was horrible to go from seeing her every other day to not at all. It took several years, but we re-established a relationship and now see her on a regular basis. She and her husband are Grandma and Papa to my girls and have provided care for them, along with her mom, my grandma, since they were born.

    My current stepmom and I had struggles in the beginning as she had young children at home and I was 21 when they married. I was not ready for another mom in my life and really resented that my dad was being dad to more kids. Such a double standard I held back then. Now we get along wonderfully and I'm so lucky to have her in my life.

    So my girls have three sets of grandparents...from my side alone. :) They are truly blessed children.

    Thank you to all you wonderful stepmoms out there!

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  33. Yeah, your step kids are VERY Fortunate and I'm happy they have such a nice person who married their father. Wish my kids were that lucky. Their "step mom" gets off on abusing them [I'm not kidding - physical and emotional]. She likes doing horrible things to them because she knows she can. And Anonymous - I don't know how you get past the step mom being the "other woman" who broke up the family - my kids are in that same situation. I'm not sure it would be *normal* for a human being to not have issues with that.

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  34. You are very lucky to have a family that generally works. I am a stepmom to two great kids, and my husband is a great non-custodial father (we live 5 minutes away and he still only sees his kids on his scheduled time unless biomom needs him to be the taxi). I am constantly frustrated by biomom's raging insecurities that prevent her kids from being in one large loving family that happens to span between two homes. I love my stepkids unconditionally, which isn't as common as maybe it should be, and my heart aches for the day they tell their dad and me that they know we got alienated, but they love us that much more for sticking it out. I don't hate their mom, but I truly wish she could step back and do what is really best for her kids, which means including their dad as her equal and me as a really great adult influence to them. Too many divorced parents make it a competition, and that is child abuse, plain and simple. The kids have a right to love and spend time with both parents.

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  35. THANK YOU for this. It's time the world realizes that stepparents are not automatically evil (damn you, Brothers Grimm) and that we have a legitimate place in our families. And that we also love these kids.

    Love your kids more than you hate your ex. It's that simple.

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  36. THANK you for this. I've always considered adding my "Life as a stepmom" perspective to the web, but never had an outlet.

    More DE's to the Stepmom:
    The Awkward Explanation: Yes, my husband is 9 years older than me. Yes, I naturally look a LOT younger than I currently am. Yes, I was 15 years old when The Teen was born. No, I did not get knocked up in high school - he is my kid, but I didn't give birth to him.

    The Parent Insults Benefit: Normal parents all enjoy something I like to call "rip on the kids when you are with other parents." It's like bragging, but opposite. For instance, "No, I have to go, Lisa. The demon spawn are raising an unholy racket and I have to put the little bastards to bed." - Does anyone, for a second, assume that this mother hates her children and really thinks they are demons? NO. Of course not. We all insult our kids. But if a STEP parent says something along those lines, be prepared for The Lecture: "How can you say those things!! You knew about him before you married ___________, you have to accept him and love him fully! What if he heard you talking like that? Honestly!" Loving, exhausted insults directed at stepchildren are strictly forbidden.

    The Pass The Buck:
    Normal parents: When one of the kids is screaming awake in the middle of the night, has thrown up everywhere, or has set the curtains on fire, it is perfectly alright to disown them and place responsibility solely on your spouse. "YOUR son just put the cat in the microwave again." or "YOUR daughter just drew with Sharpie all over the tan suede chair." But if a stepparent says "YOUR child" in any way shape or form, be prepared for The Lecture. See previous point for description above.

    I guess I am blessed in a huge way that Genetic Donor hasn't been in the kid's life since he was a baby, and I've been there entirely since he was 6 (now 14), but in some ways it sucks. I get all of the responsibilities of a full-time parent with all of the benefitless stresses and thanklessness of being a stepmom - WITHOUT the chance to chuck the kid at someone else for a weekend when I just need a bottle of wine and a book.

    Being a stepmother is the hardest thing I've ever done, with zero recognition or respect from husband or his family. They made it clear that I am fully his mom........except when it comes to discipline, rules, school, medical status, involvement with Genetic Donor's family, friends, and schedule. I am basically maid and chef and chauffeur. The daycare owners had more authority over him than I EVER have.

    Which, I guess, is my own DE of being a stepmom. At this point, I'm thinking about cutting my losses with The Teen and just focusing solely on my own kids. At least I have not ever had to deal with the Biological Donor.

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    1. I understand completely! My husband is ten years older than me and the oldest is 11 years younger. Is the worst. I do handle everything for them (there are four) because bm is only in the picture when she decides to call and guilty them and tell them lies about me- not because she's interested In seeing them or what they've been doing for the last seven years, just to rock the boat and keep emotional blackmail in place) but my husband was quick for a long time to use them as a weapon. My responsibilities to them were suddenly privileges that he could threaten to remove if i disagreed with anything he said ever. We are past out now and he is very supportive, but i know what it feels like to be mom and dad and get treated like the servant with no say so in anything. I feel your pain! Its so hard!

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  37. I wish my stepmom was like you.. I grew up according to the Cinderella handbook. Luckily Cinderella had a happy ending an so did I. :0)

    @ Sabrina .. Amen sista I myself am a younger mom.. 25 and I get the stares and glares.. Even some of my mommy group moms look at me crazy. It's sad.. I mean I'm married .. For love we have a beautiful baby now.. I filled my pre family duties.. Graduated college .. Worked in the professional world. My husband and I own two businesses so I'd like a little respect please!!!

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  38. Thank you, Evil StepMom. My little girl is blessed to have a woman like you in her life & it has made all the difference in the world. She loves my child. I can see it, others can see it, my girl KNOWS it.
    It took time for all of us to get there, at first it wasn't easy but I am so thankful that we were all able to look at our child & love her more than anything. My ex is marrying this woman next week so she will officially be the step-mom so maybe the awkward explanations of our family dynamic will cease. I will be going to the wedding even though it is in another state because we all realize that this will be a huge day in our 6 year olds life. I think that speaks volumes for the woman my ex chose to share his life & our daughter with.

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  39. Sounds like your stepmonkeys are very lucky to have you as a second mother in their lives!! About "The Fear"... my Mom married my Stepdad when I was 4 years old, and then they divorced when I was 18ish. He helped raised me (often more than my biological Dad). He was a second Dad to me, and always will be. He (and my biological Dad) walked me down the aisle at my wedding (well after he was divorced from my Mom) and I always invite him to family get-togethers. I've told my Mom that it was not my choice to bring him into my life, but it certainly was my choice to keep him in!!! Just thought you could use to hear my story about it. Sounds like you will always be in those kids' lives... no matter what :)

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  40. I loved this. Your stepmonkeys are so very lucky to have. I grew up with a stepmother who was every bit evil...and when she and my dad would fight and he would tune her out, she'd attack my sister and I--cause when better way to get to someone than to hurt their kids? Truly not even worthy of the word stepmom, I grew up called her my father's wife.

    So kudos to you, for being the best parent you can be.

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  41. Here's another DE: What's In a Name?
    In my particular situation, there is specific wording in their divorce decree that my stepdaughter is under NO circumstances to refer to anyone other than her biological parents as "mom" or "dad." Ever.

    So, I can do all the work, get all the attitude and limit-testing...without the title to at least make it feel justified.

    Until very recently she had actually been instructed to refer to me as Miss (Name).

    Like I was the lunchlady, instead of the person whose home she shares every weekend...? It drove an unnecessary wedge between us that has been an obstacle.

    Recently at my insistence, and (thankfully!)backed up by the child's counselor- she now calls me just by my first name.

    ...which her toddler half-sister finds hilarious, and doesn't understandd why SHE can't call me that instead of Mommy. The whole "who's calling whom, what" deal is very Abbott & Costello at our house. :(

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  42. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm the step-mom to a 12 year old girl known as The Young'un and I can relate to everything you listed and probably add a few more!

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  43. I've been waiting for the DE on Stepmoms. This is great! I too despise the "when will you have your own kids question." Have the kids about 60% of the time at our house (they are at our house all day during summer.) Mom lives right down the road and we sit together at every game (Hubby coaches their teams.) She's not my fav person, but we work pretty well together and she does support my role in the kids lives which helps A LOT! She also drives me crazy sometimes but we work through it. The kids make it all worthwhile and my husband is the best dad in the world!! And I can totally relate to "the fear." Love. This. Post.

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  44. Excellent post! I always think it's awesome to see how well families blend when the kids are younger =) I became a step to three girls six years ago, when they were 13, 10, &6... Teenagers from the onset definitely complicates things a bit more (my oldest stepdaughter, who is with us 100% of the time, DEFINITELY thinks I'm evil because I made her do things like actually attend high school and graduate, when she thought that sunbathing all day and a GED were more in her plan) .

    How we worked out Christmas? All of the girls are with their bio mom from the day school lets out until christmas day. W drive the several hour trip on christmas, pick them up, go home, and then celebrate our christmas on the morning of the 26th. The girls love it, because it means they get two complete Christmases every year, and it has worked well for both sides of their family for the past six years... Now everyone just knows it's the way the holiday works, so neither side of the family gets tense or upset.

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  45. And for anonymous poster up there with a nine year age difference between herself and hubby.... Completely there! My husband is 10.5 years older than me. I am 10.5 years older than my oldest stepdaughter. Yes, he had his oldest at a very young age, and yes, I'm way to young to be her mother. I'm not trying to be! She already has one of those!

    You are totally not alone =)

    Don't cut your losses - just do your best every day, try to understand that parenthood in general and stepparenthood in particular is a thankless task, and daydream about the day that someone says "thank you" for all that you do and have done for a child you didn't bring into this world. My oldest stepdaughter graduated high school this may, and even though she has hated me since she moved in, she hugged me before her dad OR bio mom and said thank you, and that she knew she wouldn't have graduated if I hadn't been standing over her with a whip all four years of high school. Since then she's gone back to being her usual hormonal, attitudinal beast, but that one ray of sunshine was enough to make up for all of the hell.

    It will get better. Eventually. Or at least they can't move back in once you hit the assisted living home!

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  46. I'm the daughter of an "evil step-mom" whom I love with all my heart and soul. My first mom passed away when I was 13, and our family found Karen a couple years later. She is amazing. But I almost can't even tell people I have a step parent without "oh you poor baby, I bet she was just horrible to you, and you didn't even have a mom to go to." I do call her by her first name; not because I don't like her, but because, at 15, it was too hard to call someone else "mom"...
    My point? If you're good to the kids, the kids will be good to you. If you love the kids, the kids will love you. It may take some time. And other people will never get it, but other people aren't in your family and they can go suck it...

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  47. I am a stepmom and just wanted to say that it is not always the dad's fault. In our case, biomom chose to cheat, marry him, and bad mouth biodad and myself in front of his son. To this day we make sure we are behind closed doors if ever discussing her in any way. We have taken the high road, always will and we still get shit on.
    I know our son is starting to figure it all out and sometimes I just want to shake her and say "you're damaging your relationship with him". I remember my mom constantly talking poorly of my biodad and I've lost respect for her because of that.

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  48. Try being the couple with TWO SETS OF DIVORCED PARENTS, married siblings, 5 Sets (yes we are lucky) OF GRANDPARENTS (one of which is also remarried... yay...) oh, and I'd really love to keep the dog with us for the holidays... but, oh wait, 3 of you have households with small ankle biters that are terrified of our normal sized dog and steal his normal sized bones and leave him with microscopic ones that he will choke on. And to think we're even considering having kids. HA! THE SCHEDULE! We might as well get a Christmas tree for the car and forget about putting innocent children through all that? Oh wait... my parents did... and I turned out... okay...

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  49. Way late commenter on this. I am stepmom to a lovely 12 year old girl who lives with her Dad and I, and her Dad and my two year old twins, but it was just a family of three for four years, and for nearly three, it's been a family of five. We don't have to really deal with too crazy of a schedule, although I do have "the fear"--great name, great description. Now, I'm being looked on as the evil one, though, since I have kept up with school, been a parent in terms of discipline, rules, expectations, etc., in some instances more than my husband has. And now, I'm hearing through others (wonderful adult friends that I've peppered our lives with--my mom used to call them "safety nets"--that I know our kids are safe with and can talk to about anything), that my sweet girl is "planning on" living with her mother by the time she gets to eighth grade. Well, there are obviously legal things that my girl's "momma" will have to do to get a change in custody, so we'll see. But for the time being, I have given all major responsibilities to my husband, and we'll see what happens. Some things have been forgotten, and we'll see how the report card shakes down for the next couple quarters, without me reminding of homework, practicing the instrument, asking if there's any papers to be signed, or any stuff to be involved with. At the end of the day, if there is a scary change in custody ever, I don't want my husband's family or my husband, to blame me for that. So...enjoy the responsibility! I will keep it simple and just appreciate a good report card. Stepparenthood really sucks sometimes.

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  50. I love my Monkey's Stepmom to bits, Ex got custody due to my being disabled and working too many hours, she really changed his life and they now have two beatiful sons as well as our shared daughter, she and I don't always agree, but she's the one in the house and we've always tried to be on the same page, that was until Shorty asked to come and live with me, she's just starting secondary (middle?) school and with a 2 year old and a new baby in the house she is having problems with her school work and overcrowding, suddenly we went from team family to them closing ranks against me, I didn't even suggest the idea, she did!
    It worked great for the first 11 years, I guess all it takes is a change in attitude to rip a family apart, so please stepmoms, remember, just because a biomom is absent doesn't mean it's for the reasons biodad says, and try not to turn our babies against us, I've always treated her as our baby, I wish you could have continued to do the same.
    Miserable portable incubator in england

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  51. I understand the FEAR entirely. I took on my husbands for sons fulltime from the start. BM was not in the picture. Shortly after i gave birth to our daughter, we stated having marital issues and my husband did the one thing he knew would hurt me the most. He took the boys to A BM WHO THEY DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER (only the oldest did) & left me and our baby alone. I was so lost and scared for them and i was given no contact at all. (husband has spent the last 5 years trying to make it up to me) the youngest ss was three at the time and i had been mommy since he was a baby. To make matters worse, bm sent emails rubbing my face in it. Even though she had taken no part in, raising them for years, i had no rights. Nannynannyboo.. It was the must painful time if my life. Those kids were my life. needless to say, hubby pulled his head out of his you know what and bright them home but the damage was done. It has taken me years to be secure enough to even disagree with him because i couldn't bear to lose them again. We are past all that but the damage to my youngest ss is done. He lives with separation anxiety..he's always staid that if he does something wrong, he will be taken from mommy and put with that selfish heartless creature that is him bm. The FEAR is real, and when you truly love the stepkids like you're own, it is unthinkable to lose them. You would do anything to prevent it. Because in, my situation, they don't have another mom who's there for them our even bothers to call. To them its losing another mom if i am gone. They need me. And i have been to hell and back and would do it a thousand times over to make sure that my marriage works and my family stays together.

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