It goes without saying that every stepmom has a vastly different relationship with the mother of her stepchildren than the next stepmom. Before my life now, I was in a different relationship that first introduced me to the dynamics of stepmotherhood. While that relationship ultimately failed, I developed a very strong bond with the little boy and knew I wanted to be a mom.
His mother was kind, funny and eager to positively co-parent…and she genuinely thanked me for everything I did for her son. I miss working with her and felt encouraged by our relationship.
The mother in my current situation? I might as well not exist.
All the work and no credit (from her)
Some stepmoms get along famously with their stepkids’ mom, sipping mimosas and getting pedicures together. More power to you if that’s your circumstance and frankly, it sounds awesome.
For women in my particular situation, be prepared to do all of the Mom Tasks without getting any recognition from the mom. Not that we should do anything to get a gold star from her, but wouldn’t it be nice to get a “thank you for all that you do” every once in a while?
Here is a short list of what many stepmoms do on the regular: cook foods our stepchildren enjoy, buy clothes and toys, use fuel for custody exchanges…let’s see, what else? Oh, we teach them important life skills, listen to their big dreams, laugh at their silly little jokes, help them figure problems out, and last but not least, love and validate these little humans we didn’t make.
So where’s my gold star?!?
What do I receive instead? Absolutely nothing.
But honestly, what was I expecting? If we were going to co-parent together, I’m confident that it would’ve been established already. I don’t have children of my own yet, but I try to put myself in her shoes to see if I could understand why things are the way they are.
You know what? I couldn’t do it.
In my situation, I don’t know her well enough to try assuming anything about how she feels. For all I know, she can’t stand me and it’s painful for her to see her children being cared for by me. It’s probably easier for her to not engage with me, and that’s okay.
The best thing I could do for me and my family was to simply let it be.
Don’t force a relationship
Some stepmoms are brave and extend the olive branch to their stepkids’ mother and are pleasantly surprised to find a new ally on their journey… or they come back missing a hand.
Since I’ve successfully co-parented before her, I honestly thought it was going to be a piece of cake. I’m a likable person, who wouldn’t want me on their team?
I was actually excited at the prospect of co-parenting instead of being at odds right out of the gate. However, after learning what my boyfriend endured during the divorce among other things, I made the personal choice to remain invisible.
Turns out co-parenting is not a piece of cake this time. This particular cake is stale and no longer fit to serve.
It’s okay to be invisible (to her)
Piece of cake or not, remind yourself who you are doing all of this for in the first place. You fell in love with a person who has children and unless the other parent isn’t in the picture, they will be in your life in some capacity forever.
For me, she is a faint shadow in the corner that I shrug off and go back to living my life. No mimosas and pedicures for us.
I am invisible to her, and I have come to accept that as a fact without letting it define me.
In a year, we’ve exchanged a few awkward waves during custody exchanges and a few messages from her during pandemic homeschooling making sure that I got assignments turned in for her daughter (I’m a Type A woman and proud owner of a Bachelor’s degree in teaching. I got this!), but other than that, it’s radio silence.
I’m not invisible to my boyfriend or my stepchildren, and that’s what matters most to me.
Live your life to the fullest
The soul-healing hugs from my boyfriend when we first see each other after work remind me why I’m here. I’ve found my missing piece in him.
Having my oldest stepson talk my ear off or hearing my younger stepchildren say that they love me also reminds me why I’m living this life. Together, we have created something so beautiful out of our broken pieces.
Just because I’m invisible to the mom won’t hold me back from living my best life every single day, doesn’t change anything. I’m simply not looking for validation from her anymore.
Obviously, I wish things could be better. Maybe we’ll have a relationship of sorts down the road, but for now, I’m not going to miss a beat.
I’ve already found everything I’ve ever wanted and more.
P.S. Have you ever felt like there’s an invisible load you carry as a stepmom? Me too!