By: Beth from The Inclusive Stepmom
The internet is crowded with memes and quotes and inspirational posts about combating mom guilt. In addition to all of the daily insecurities and self-doubt that go hand in hand with raising kiddos, stepmoms have an added layer of guilt to battle. Shed some of that stepmom shame and stop feeling guilty about these five things.
5 Things Stepmoms Should Stop Feeling Guilty About
1. Being relieved when your stepkids leave.
As a stepmom and second wife, your only point of reference is not seeing your stepkids every day. You don’t know what it’s like to have them all the time, so you’re not missing the way anything was before. We all had different lives before we became stepmoms, and lots of us became insta-parents, going from no kids to stepkids and an extra co-parent.
It’s okay to enjoy that quiet, kid free time, and there’s no shame of feeling relieved to have your partner all to yourself every few days. You can support and encourage your partner in missing their child without feeling guilty because you don’t have the exact same emotions all the time.
2. Taking vacations without your stepkids.
Your stepkids are still enjoying their lives when they’re not at your house, so why shouldn’t you do the same? The world doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop for either of you when you’re not on active parent duty. Take advantage of that time to nourish your relationship with yourself, your partner, or your own kids if you have them.
Your stepkids do fun things and go on trips with the other side of your family, and you can do the same. Make it a special time of sharing when either of you do something fun when you’re apart by sharing photos and stories, and don’t forget the souvenir!
3. Feeling jealous of your stepkids.
I debated whether to even admit this, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one. When my wife and I first started dating, I’d feel this total sense of elation when she would change her profile picture or the lock screen on her phone to a picture of me or the two of us. But then, when she would change it to a pic of just her daughter, or of the two of them, I’d feel this stab of inexplicable jealousy.
It was even worse when the photo was from a time or place when I wasn’t with them. I felt afraid and jealous that they were enjoying their lives more without me. When I look back on that time, I realize those feelings are completely valid, because as stepmoms, especially in the beginning stages, we’re constantly looking for ways to fit. Forgive yourself of those jealous moments. Breathe them in, and then exhale them out, guilt-free.
4. Not loving your stepkids as your own.
I don’t have children of my own yet, but I would imagine that once I do I will love them in an equal but different way than I love my stepdaughter. Just as I expect my stepdaughter loves her parents differently than she loves me, our bond is different. I’m honored to help her with her homework, but I’m not sitting behind that desk at a parent teacher conference. I tell her how beautiful she is in her new glasses, but I wasn’t at the eye doctor with her. I’m there for so many momentous occasions, but there are some parts of her world I leave up to her parents, and that’s perfectly okay.
As a stepmom, you have to put up and leave up certain boundaries that differentiate your relationship from the one you have with your own kids in order to make it all work. And remember, a different kind of love doesn’t mean a lesser kind of love.
5. Setting boundaries
You and your partner might not always have the exact same ideas for parenting or style of discipline, but that doesn’t mean your voice doesn’t matter. Being the stepmom doesn’t mean your wants and needs, or even your rules, should ever take a backseat. Pick your battles, but don’t be afraid to step up to the plate for the ones that matter.
Whether it’s shared spaces with your stepchild, self-care, or the simple desire of not wanting your stepkids to play in your makeup without your permission, you matter. Don’t feel badly about making yourself heard and establishing the boundaries you need to be happy and healthy in your home.
What parts of being a stepmom do you feel the most guilty about? Whether it’s these five things, or other burdens, rest assured that you’re doing a fantastic job. Ditch that guilt and keep being a fantastic stepmom.