My reality of becoming a stepmom could not have been farther from what I expected when I first started dating a man with kids.
In pop culture, we see many examples of happy moms in happy families. I was excited to be the happy mom-of-my-home in my happy blended family, and I was confident my history as a child of divorce and a preschool teaching assistant had adequately prepared me for what lied ahead.
What we don’t see enough examples of are thriving stepmoms with healthy coping strategies and peace of mind.
My idea of what the stepmom role would look like vastly differed from what my life does like as a stepmom in reality. If you’re becoming a stepmom, let me share with you the things I wished I’d been prepare for.
What to Expect When You’re Becoming a Stepmom
Things will feel out of your control sometimes.
There have been many times on this journey that it felt like my present was dictated by my partner’s past. It has felt like his ex has control over our home, our family, our schedule, etc.
Where we live, what days we can get together with family members or friends who want to see my stepdaughter, shared financial obligations and decisions, my stepdaughter’s haircut… these are just a few of the ways my husband’s custody agreement limits our ability to make decisions independent of his past.
It can be enough to make you want to scream some days, but you’ll find your groove and learn to take back control in your home and in your life. Making the decision to not live my life in response to his past was the single best choice I’ve made since becoming a stepmom.
Uncomfortable feelings will surface.
It’s no secret that in my first few years with Kevin I suffered from second wife syndrome and struggled to overcome some of the most surprising, intense insecurities I’ve ever known. I worried that my husband having already experienced so many things for the first time with his ex-wife meant those same experiences (buying a home, getting married, having a child) would be less exciting with me. I was concerned I was a second choice and could never be first in his heart.
Many other uncomfortable emotions can arise in the stepmom role. Not the least of which is resentment. You may find yourself feeling resentful of your stepchildren or your partner.
Or maybe it’s jealousy toward your stepchildren, or toward their other parent that will affect your peace.
These uncomfortable feelings are often overwhelming and can continue to snowball if left unaddressed. Don’t hide from these feelings if they affect you; confront them head-on and prioritize your peace and happiness above all else.
Boundaries will become your new best friend.
When I first became a stepmom, I couldn’t tell you what boundaries in a relationship are. Of course I understood the term in the literal sense, but I had no idea what a personal boundary was, or how I could start setting them in my stepmom role.
I slowly learned it is okay to take up space. Once I was able to recognize how it felt when someone overstepped boundaries and gained the confidence I needed to start setting those limits, it was a whole new world for me.
Becoming a stepmom doesn’t mean being a doormat, who knew? (Not Younger Kristen, that’s for sure!)
It’s okay to admit you’re struggling.
In my early years as a stepmom, I was ashamed of how I was feeling, of the burnout I was experiencing, and general feelings of not-enoughness and discontent. I suffered in silence thinking I was the only one who felt this way and that it made me a bad stepmom (or maybe a bad person?) to struggle this way.
You’re not alone, stepmama. You are certainly not the only who has ever struggled with what’s in front of you. Your feelings are natural, your current battles will not last forever, and there is light on the other side.
If you want additional help on your stepmom journey, apply now to find out if stepmom support coaching is right for you!
P.S. Perhaps you can relate to any of these 8 most common stepmom struggles?