There’s no shortage of advice, rules, opinions, and mandates for how a stepmom should act, feel, behave, and think. There are blogs, message boards, books, websites, guides, endless lists of do’s and don’ts. In fact, everyone seems to be an expert whether they have ever stood in a stepmom’s shoes or not.
These overly-simplistic guides for stepmoms are usually written in a breezy, cutesy manner, urging adherence to a steadfast set of behaviors that, presumably, fit every situation.
Except for one glaring shortcoming: none takes into account my personal circumstances, who I was before I met the kids, who I am now, how I have changed, how the kids reacted to me, how I reacted to them, our personal family dynamics, Gary’s feelings, or the warzone the kids fight through each day for actually liking me.
Much advice is written to stepmoms on the premise that there is a mature, mentally stable biological mother who is willing to communicate effectively for the benefit of the children. Too many of us know first hand that this is a sweeping assumption that frequently and sadly is not the case. Not by a long shot.
I have read how I am supposed to eat, sleep, breathe, and live to make the biomom happy, how I should shape my behavior to appease her and keep the peace. Essentially, we stepmoms are to adopt the look, feel, behavior, essence, and attitude of a doormat.
Sorry. The kids’ peace will always be more important than the ego of any adult, no matter who it is. And let’s get real: the very fact that I am breathing right now rubs the biomom the wrong way. The fact that I am alive, the fact that I am capable of caring for the children, the fact that the children love me, and especially the fact that I make Gary happy, outrages her. By doing nothing but loving and caring for Gary and the kids, I am hated and am disrupting the peace. Her peace.
Why attempt reasonable discourse with an unreasonable person? Appeasing the biomom’s ego at the cost of your own family is a huge mistake. The kids and Gary will always be more important to me than placating someone who decided long before meeting me that she would never get to know me or behave remotely like an adult in my presence.
Life is short. I choose my battles and where to place my energy. Wasting energy on someone who thrives on hate, drama, and childishness is, in turn, a waste of precious time. It is not my duty in life to repeatedly place binkies in tantrum-prone adults’ howling mouths.
I prefer to direct my energy into my family, into spending time with them, letting the kids talk about how they feel about all of this, keeping my relationship with Gary healthy and strong in the face of challenges, and constantly learning and changing and adapting to us…not to rules, guides, standards, and opinions handed to me by people outside of our home.
I live by only one rule when it comes to being a stepmom. I focus on how my behavior will affect the kids and Gary. No one else can tell me what is best for them, for me, or for us.