I had sold my home to move in with my then-fiance/now-husband and his daughter in his hometown, a town I was unfamiliar with about 30 minutes away. Logistically, it made sense for our family. Krista wouldn’t have to change schools, and it was closer to the building Kevin and I worked in.
Emotionally, I was distraught. I had worked so hard to be able to purchase my first home. I decorated it from nothing. I grew and matured in that home. I became an independent, fierce woman on Kirby Drive. And I sold it all to become full-time partner and part-time stepmom.
I was no longer servicing my tutoring clients near my old home because the drive didn’t make sense from my new town.
I rarely saw my sister and my young nephew because they too lived near my old home, and I was enveloped in adjusting to my new role and my new family.
One day, I looked in the mirror, and I simply didn’t recognize myself. I felt uprooted. I had stopped doing so many of the things I loved and instead, I became wholly a stepmom. I was experiencing an identity crisis as a childless stepmom, and I needed help.
Stepping Back and Readjusting your Role
I realized that I had adjusted my schedule, my social outings, my job, my home, my everything to become a part of this stepfamily–not because my partner had asked me to, but because I wanted to prove I was all-in. I wanted to prove the value I could add to this family.
But by going all-in as a stepmom, I had stopped doing the things I love, the things that made me, me.
Once I realized I no longer recognized myself, I began the process of stepping back and redefining my role. I explained to my partner how I was feeling and how I needed to balance who I was with the new family I was joining, and he was completely supportive.
We worked together to identify which tasks I could pass back over to him, and I started scheduling time for the things I had loved before I became a stepmom: visits to my sister’s home, wine nights with my best friend, and fitness boot camp three times per week.
The more I stepped back from the stepmom role I had been all-consumed by and the more I started balancing the individual I am with the family I’m in, the more whole I became.
As I shifted from being an all-in stepmom I hardly recognized to a balanced woman who was also a stepmom, I felt a transformation.
I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders: the pressure to be the perfect stepmom and partner. I felt renewed in my purpose and rejuvenated as a parent and partner.
I didn’t realize how drained, burned out I was trying to play this part full-time. But taking time for the things I loved outside of being a stepmom fully rejuvenated me. I was equally excited for the time I was home with the family and the time spent doing things for me.
The tagline of this website is, “Stepmomming is what you do, it’s not who you are.” That tagline was built out of this identity crisis I experienced when stepmomming had become who I was, my entire identity, instead of one of the things I do, one of many parts of me.
When I shifted stepmomming to something I do, my whole world shifted. I was a visibly happier person, but I also became an infinitely better stepmom. I was full of energy and enthusiasm, I built my partner up and supported him, letting him know I trust him instead of taking over all of the tasks for our household. I also gave my husband and stepdaughter much-needed time alone.
Self-Care Before you Need it
I see many clients, especially childless stepmoms, who face this same identity crisis I did. My advice is always the same: take a step back, take time for yourself, and continue to take time for yourself.
In fact, my advice for all stepmoms is to practice self-care early, and often. Even before you realize you need it, if you can.
Self-care looks differently for everyone. For some, it’s a mani pedi with a glass of rosé; for others, it’s curling up on the back porch with a good book. It might be yoga class or journaling for you. Find what fills you up, what calms you, and what rejuvenates you. And then, do it.
I’ll even go so far as to schedule my self-care time these days, to be sure I don’t ever go too long without taking a breath which is a slippery slope to burnout and resentment.
It’s not too late.
It’s not too late to address and correct your identity crisis. You’re not beyond recognition or beyond help.
Take a step back, revel in the transformation, and then make self-care a routine. Remember: stepmomming is what you do, it’s not who you are.
And if you’d like a little guidance along the way, I offer 1-on-1 stepmom support coaching, and I’d love to help you remember what makes you, you.
P.S. Unsure how to begin the disengaging process? This guide will help you start stepping back.