The music was so loud; I suddenly felt like I was just watching a movie.
You know, one of those movies when they’re at a night club and the camera gets shaky. Everything around the character is blurry until she escapes the club and finds relief throwing up outside.
Then, the camera stabilizes, and the character’s friends come outside to make sure she is okay and most importantly, to make sure the bouncer didn’t see so they could continue their drunken night.
But this wasn’t a movie, this was my 21st birthday… and 45 days later I was walking down the aisle.
The Diary of a Young Stepmom
The looks I receive when someone hears that I am 23 and married are nowhere near as horrific as the looks I receive when I tell them I am a stepmom. And if we are being honest, sometimes I give myself the same look in the mirror.
Being a stepmom is like a walk in a park… in a thunderstorm.
Being a young stepmom is that same walk, except your friends are watching from above at a rooftop bar you have been dying to visit.
You are constantly debating on whether to run through the rain and share your only umbrella with your partner and stepchild, or whether to run over to the bar for a quick mojito instead. If you’re like me, you always turn down the mojito.
So what makes being a young stepmom so much harder? I believe it’s our friend group, and the fact that most of us have no idea who we truly are yet.
Now, before you go all millennial on me, preaching how great your friends are and how well you know yourself, let me explain.
Your Friend Group…
… probably sucks, but it’s not your fault.
When your friends hear that you are seeing someone who has a child, they have one of two reactions.
One, they are so excited and already planning trips to the aquarium. Two, they tell you to run and that men with kids are the number one STD you should avoid (someone actually said that to me).
If your friends are like mine, the ones who say you’re crazy hurts the most. Not because they call you crazy or think you have bad judgment, but because they probably were the first to ditch plans or “forget” to reply to text messages. And suddenly, you wake up one day and realize you can’t even call them your friends anymore.
Meanwhile, the friend who was planning trips to the aquarium is a slow burn. Sure, they are ditching plans already, but they keep you hopeful. They are checking in on your stepchild, they hang out with you when your stepchild is at her mom’s, and they continue to promise you they will be around to go to the aquarium (or whatever else) soon!
The promises lead to more and more disappointments and hurt feelings.
Any new mother will tell you it happens… but wouldn’t you think it would be different if the child isn’t yours?
I think this realization hurts young stepmothers more because these are the friends that vowed to stay forever. These are your high school and college friends. The people you got matching tattoos with, the people who were going to be aunts or uncles to your future children and now, they are strangers.
Just another number on your Facebook friend list or Instagram. Always the first to double tap the newest picture of you and your stepchild. In a stepmothers mind the absentee love usually hurts more, because most of our stepchildren have seen their fair share of fake love and you don’t want to be the one to introduce more.
You Have No Idea Who You Are
You might be sitting here thinking, “Emily, I know exactly who I am, and I promise you I am meant to be a stepmom.”
I believe you sista, I do. I believe you because I know in every fiber of my being I was meant to be my stepdaughter’s stepmom. But that’s not all there is to me…
If you are here, you probably know at Stepmomming, we believe stepmomming is what you do, but it’s not who you are.
Young stepmothers have the hardest time with this because we have no idea who we are. We just don’t. Because of this, we are usually the first ones to get so sucked into this “job” that we lose ourselves in the process.
I am the first to tell you, when I first became a stepmom, I let it control every decision I made and every emotion I had.
I had no idea what made me happy. Did I even have hobbies?!
There is really no how-to guide on how to find yourself (although I wish there was), but there are ways you can go about being a stepmother and finding yourself happen quite marvelously.
First, be honest with yourself, and admit it. You don’t have a clue (Spoiler alert, none of us really do).
Second, tell your significant other… because there’s a really good chance your partner also has no idea who he really is. Many parents find themselves lost in parenthood.
The third step is really person specific: Find what helps you find you. It might be a hobby you used to enjoy, going on more dates with your partner, a solo vacation, or finding more friends who are parents. The options are endless, and so is your potential!
Some days, I ask myself “Is this right for me? Is this where I belong?” and I have yet to answer no, even on the hardest, “Honey, you better bring home wine or divorce papers!” days.
No matter your age, knowing you belong somewhere is one of the most important traits you can possess.
Being a young stepmom is not a bad thing, so please never allow anyone to make you feel like it is. After all, we just found them sooner, so we can love them longer… and I, for one, wouldn’t trade that for the world.
P.S. I miss my friends who don’t have kids! Here’s what I wish my childfree friends knew.