Stepmoms don’t compete among themselves to see who has it worse, but if they did, my argument would be that the childless stepmoms would win by a landslide.
Instead of merging two families, childless stepmoms try to find a place for themselves within their partner’s family. Instead of feeling confident with children, childless stepmoms worry that they aren’t good enough, or that they won’t be taken seriously.
People say a lot of dumb things to stepmoms. More often than not, the intentions are not malicious; however, that doesn’t make the words sting any less. Even stepmoms unintentionally say hurtful things to stepmoms… it’s just the nature of the beast, as no two stories are identical.
Something I’ve heard more than once in my stepmomming journey is that I will “never understand” until I have kids.
In my early days of stepmomming, while trying to find my place in the family, as well as coping with the fact that I will never have a child, these words really hurt. But now, in a position of confidence and pure happiness, my response to that statement is this: Understand what?!
Today, I’m whipping out my best detective skills to debunk the myths surrounding childless stepmoms’ ability to love, and to determine what exactly childless stepmoms “will not understand” until they have biological children.
Being a Mom Does Not Make You a Better Stepmom
I will never understand what it’s like to be a mother.
I will never understand what it’s like to be a mother? Well, duh, because I’m not a mother, I’m a stepmother. Our roles are separate, but we are both more than capable of raising children and loving them unconditionally.
I will never have a biological child, but what if I adopted a child? Would people still make that comment to me then? No, they wouldn’t! Because people see adopted parents as “real parents” without questioning the fact that they didn’t bond with the child for 9 months in the womb.
And before I get too far down that rabbit hole, I understand that adopted moms are different than stepmoms… but what I’m saying is, if we can wrap our minds around nonbiological parents loving a child unconditionally via adoption, why can’t we do the same for stepparents, who commit to the children via marriage?
So no, childless stepmoms do not understand what it’s like to be a mom, but we do understand what it’s like to be a stepmom. Stepmoms, who are a part of the parenting team, and who are capable of loving their stepchildren with their whole heart.
I will never understand the perspective of the biological mother.
I will never understand the perspective of the biological mother? How hard it must be for her to spend time away from her children, or to miss milestones while they are with their dad? Yes, I can understand her perspective, thanks to a little trait called empathy.
I believe with enough experience as a stepmom, emotional intelligence, and empathy, a childless stepmom can understand the biological mom’s perspective. That’s all you need in order to be a good co-parent: the ability to see the other parties perspectives (including your husbands!).
A childless stepmom doesn’t understand the connection a biological mother has to her child, or the feelings associated, but a childless stepmom absolutely has the ability to see the mom’s perspective in all stepparenting situations if she puts her mind to it.
I will never have a biological child… so does that mean every move I make as a stepmom is to compete, or to try and prove my worth? Does it mean that every decision I make is coming from a place of spite or ill intent? NO!
A childless stepmom doesn’t fully understand the impact of motherhood, but that’s okay… because she’s not a mom. She’s a stepmom, which is a totally separate role. One that doesn’t require (or allow!) being bound by DNA. Stepmoms are parents… they are part of the parenting team… but they are not moms. And that’s okay.
The Benefits of “Not Understanding”
Personally, I think that being a childless stepmom makes it easier for me to be a good stepmom—not more challenging.
I don’t have to worry about whether or not “my kids” and “his kids” feel the same type of love from me. They are all “our kids” in our home.
I don’t have to worry about an impressionable baby calling me by my first name because he hears his older siblings do it.
I am not under the same type of pressure as a mom or dad. There are parenting decisions that I’m not always involved with, and if things go awry, I’m off the hook.
I may be trusted more than mom or dad in certain situations. The children may confide in me more, and be more comfortable sharing secrets with me.
I will never lose sight of myself, or become totally consumed with being a mom, because I’m childless half of the time. The kids will always see me happy, driven, and motivated. When I hit the inevitable complacent seasons of life, it will not be due to sacrificing my self-identity to be “mom.”
Don’t get me wrong… I’d love to have a baby, but I know that is not in the cards for me. I love my family and do not need validation from anyone to know that my love for my stepchildren is real, and that I am enough.
So before you go rattling off to a childless stepmom that she will “never understand until she has her own child,” consider these questions:
Does it matter? Does this specific situation actually require her to have a biological connection to the child in order to be understood?
Isn’t she good enough? Isn’t what she brings to the table as a stepmom enough?
Also, consider what you don’t know. Could she be struggling with infertility? Does she even want biological children? Never forget that everyone you meet may be facing a silent war you know nothing about. Sensitive topics require thoughtful perspective.
I know that the love I have for my stepchildren is real… it is deep in my soul, and it is unwavering. I don’t need to have given them birth in order to love them, to be a good co-parent, or to make a significant impact on their lives. I am a proud stepmom, and I am enough.
P.S. Need a pick-me-up? Stuck in a stepmom funk? This is for you… here are all of the reasons you’re a GREAT stepmom!