I was a child of divorce at two years old and grew up with different stepparents throughout the years. So I thought I knew what I was signing up for when I began dating someone with a child from a previous marriage. It turns out I had no idea what becoming a stepmom is actually like.
As I fell deeper in love with my now-husband, I found myself questioning if I could stay.
I felt isolated.
I didn’t think anyone understood or could relate to my struggles as a second wife and stepmom.
The lack of control made me want to scream.
My relationship with his daughter was easy enough, but I still caught glimpses of her loyalty binds.
To the new stepmom, I see you. I know your challenges, and I’m here to share what I wish someone had told me about becoming a stepmom.
What No One Tells You About Becoming a Stepmom
1. You will feel like you’ve lost yourself sometimes.
When I first became a stepmom, I threw my all into the role, like the overachiever I am. I cooked elaborate balanced meals each evening, helped with homework and played educational games with my stepdaughter as extra fun practice, and I showed up for every school function and extracurricular activity.
I was on a mission to prove my worth. It was important to me to prove to my stepdaughter that I wasn’t an evil stepmom.
I sought to prove to my partner that I wouldn’t run away like the last girlfriend had.
His ex-wife needed to know I was responsible and could be trusted with her child.
My in-laws’ skepticism would become a distant memory if only they could see how much I loved their child and grandchild.
But in the process of trying to prove my capability as a stepmother to everyone else, I lost who I am.
I stopped doing the things that make me, me. Visits with my own family were infrequent, my tutoring schedule had lightened considerably to account for our custody schedule, and I wasn’t spending time out with my girlfriends anymore.
The deeper I got into the stepmom role, the more challenging it was to remember the person I was before I found my partner. Originally, I felt guilty for wanting to do things I enjoy.
I thought becoming a stepmom meant I had to sacrifice my own wants and needs. Thank goodness I was wrong.
To the new stepmom, learn from my mistakes and work diligently to maintain those things that make you, you. Those hobbies and activities helped to shape the vibrant, dynamic person your partner fell in love with. Don’t lose her.
2. You won’t have control over some decisions that affect you.
Before I met my partner, I led a busy life as a single woman. I worked full-time in a corporate career I was working hard to advance in. I ran a successful tutoring business and helped a handful of students with their studies, and I took online classes for my Master’s degree. From small decisions like what was for dinner, to big decisions like how to invest my money, I had complete control over my entire life.
As a stepmom, I’m restricted to a radius where I can live, a custody schedule that dictates when we’re spending time as a couple and when we’re spending time as a family, and mandates on certain financial matters like child support, child tax credits, health insurance, and extracurricular activities.
Becoming a stepmom means sacrificing some of that autonomy you once cherished and learning to live by agreements your partner makes with their ex-partner. It’s a humbling experience.
3. The kids don’t come first.
Further, the logic follows that if their relationship predated yours, then your partner’s relationship with their child predates yours as well.
When I first became a stepmom, I thought this meant that my partner’s first priority was his daughter. I incorrectly assumed I had to come second in our new family.
But the reality is, the kids shouldn’t come first in your family. It’s up to us to show them a healthy relationship and family dynamic.
If our lives stopped when my stepdaughter isn’t here, we would be sending the wrong message. We would be telling her that she dictates our relationship and our family; not that we are a strong healthy couple that leads the family.
My stepdaughter has witnessed a failed marriage already, and it’s important that we show her what a healthy marriage looks like. Now, we prioritize date night, kiss and hold hands in front of her, and make sure she has visibility to a loving couple.
Hindsight is 20/20 When Becoming a Stepmom
I had no idea what I was signing up for, and I’ve learned so much along the way. I’m thankful for all of the lessons and the growth. I’m more confident than ever that marrying my husband and becoming a stepmom was one of the best decisions I ever made.
If you need someone to talk to who understands the struggles of stepmomming, and can give you validation and advice to work through those feelings to become more confident and present in your relationship, fill out the application below to see if stepmom support coaching is a good fit for you!
P.S. Here are five things to remember if you are struggling with being a stepmom!