For years, I’ve struggled to understand how stepparenting with kids of your own is different than the experience of being a childless stepmom.
The childless stepmoms of the world will forever have a special place in my heart. That part of my life was challenging but wholly fulfilling in ways outsiders will never know.
So, today, I want to share one small piece of how my mindset around my son is different than my mindset around my stepdaughter.
I used to roll my eyes at people who told me they had pregnancy brain or mom brain. What a silly concept. They should just compartmentalize better, right?
Ok, I tried that. It’s impossible. The idea of bringing a baby into this world, into our family, is so overwhelming. My entire life is changing. My daily schedule, my sleep routine, my body! I’m hyper-aware of every movement Baby makes, every ache that feels out of place, every milestone we reach.
Some days, he is pretty much all I can think about. His health, my health, and the seemingly never-ending to do list that comes with having a baby.
But it’s not just the amount of thoughts about him. I experienced some of that when I became a new stepmom. I wanted to do everything I could to give Krista a happy transition to a new home with a married dad and stepmom.
It’s the gravity of the thoughts. The weight they hold.
I am currently solely responsible for my son’s health and safety. I’ve longed for this for 6 years. That only compounds how seriously I take that responsibility.
But even when he’s earthside and I can share that responsibility with my husband, my mindset will still be different. I will be one of two people responsible for him. For his health, safety, happiness, success.
Momming vs. Stepmomming
I have always done everything I could to give Krista a happy, healthy childhood. I’ve spent extra time tutoring her when she needed it. I’ve held her when she’s sick. I’ve listened to her stories about school friend troubles and offered advice when asked.
But my impact is limited. I have restraints on my role that prohibit me from being the same kind of parent to her that I will be to my son.
Legally, I can’t call the doctor and ask a dozen questions about her condition, because I’m just the stepmom. I have to give my list of questions to my husband.
Emotionally, I can’t continue to push issues or fight for a stance that her parents don’t care as much about or disagree with me about. I don’t get a final vote.
And, naturally, that has an effect on how much I’m willing to think about these things. I can’t allow myself to care more than her parents do.
But with my son, caring is my entire responsibility. I don’t have those same limitations. I can’t fall back on “Well, I tried, but they didn’t want to pursue it…”
As much as I wanted that to be my job as Krista’s stepmom, it’s just not. She has two active parents who are going to choose to parent her in the ways they feel are best. Right or wrong. Aligned with my thoughts or not.
Before I got pregnant, and even in the early days of pregnancy, I still didn’t understand just how different my mindset was going to be. How monumental that pressure would feel. How liberating it would be to finally have a real say, a final vote—but simultaneously, the weight that vote would carry.
So, I think about him pretty much all the time. And as hard as I worked to be the perfect stepmom 9 years ago, today, I work that hard to be the best mom.
It’s a pressure that I can live up to. A pressure I have to live up to.
If you’re stepmom role is changing and you think you could benefit from individualized support along the way, apply now to find out if coaching would be a good fit for you!
P.S. If you’re a couple years in and realizing the weight of this change, read this.