SMOM since 2007, age 40, 2 stepkids (SS12 and SD19), no kids.
1) The biggest thing I learned is to VENT and SEEK ADVICE HERE on this site instead of sharing or venting with DH. DH is my best friend in the whole world, and we share EVERYTHING together. But I learned after a few mistakes that venting my SMOM frustrations with him is a terrible idea, and most SMOM situations aren’t ideal to share with him. DH just can’t possibly understand a SMOM situation because these are his own kids, and doesn’t view them the way that I do. Plus, I learned that I don’t need to put extra stress on him with my frustrations. He’s got enough trying to manage two families … his “ex-family” and his current family with me. Likewise, I can’t possibly imagine his situation.
2) The next biggest thing I learned is to not VENT or SEEK ADVICE from my own family. They have never been in a “step” situation, and can’t possibly relate to it. They are great people and try their best, but just haven’t had the experience of being in the “step” position to really get it. Also, I found it better to just NOT share SMOM frustrations because it taints their view on my step-family. It’s just not healthy. So, I come HERE to vent and seek advice.
3) I learned that DH is only capable of providing the “dad” view on life and manners and such to the SKIDS. There’s a world of “mom” things that “dads” just don’t comprehend. And those are the things that I soon found out that I need to fill-in with that “mom” perspective because I’m the female. These “mom” things are the subtle things, mostly manners, eating etiquette and routine hygiene things. “Moms” seem to generally provide this nurturing guidance, instruction and enforcement. At first this would drive me completely nuts because DH didn’t say anything when the stepkids were acting and eating like animals at the dinner table, were failing to wash their hands, didn’t have clean fingernails and a clean face, didn’t take routine showers, didn’t wear fresh clothes every day … just to name a few. It frustrated me at first, but soon realized that DH (dads in general) just isn’t programmed to recognize these things. So, for my sanity and the benefit of the stepkids, I took the role of providing the “mom” perspective when the stepkids are at our house. (but in our case, BM isn’t providing the normal “mom” guidance on these things as she should be, which amplifies these poor behaviors, but that’s par for the course for her).
4) for good measure: Just as important for my own sanity –> I learned that it is OK that I allow the natural process to happen when building a relationship with the stepkids and that it’s OK to do it my own pace, and that it’s OK allow it to progress only to the level of my own comfort. DH had to learn that too, not sure he still really “gets it”, but he’s accepted it. I learned that it is normal to not instantly become a motherly figure to the stepkids. And, learned that I’m not required to LOVE the stepkids. Sure, I care about them, but LOVE them … even after 5 years, I don’t feel love for them. DH has a tough time to understand this because he naturally loves them. I guess to sum up this one, I learned that all these feelings that I have about my relationship with the stepkids is NORMAL and that this doesn’t make me a bad SMOM.