I am new to SMOMS and I find it to be an awesome tool and resource. So far I have read some of your articles and suggestions and then experiences of other smoms and I feel understood and safe. I don’t feel as alone. I can not post on the bulletin board for some reason so if you could help me with that. Also, I am from Canada and I wondered if there is a similar canadian site or if there is a way to start a support group for other women in ontario and to contact them about in person support meetings.
so now for my story and where I am at.…
I love my stepkids dearly sd13 and ss11 but ever since I had my own son a year ago I find myself angry and frustrated by them all the time. I figure its b/c my husband and I just got married 2 years ago and then I got pregnant 3 months after we got married so there are a lot of adjustments all at once. Not to mention they are now teens whereas when he and I first started dating they were 6 and 8. My husband is quite passive in his parenting style and with his ex and I am incredibly assertive in that I work in daycare where consistency and follow through are imperative.
My husband and I will discuss something to do with the kids about discipline or about his ex (discussing boundaries with her) but then he rarely follows through or just caves. For instance she has the kids involved in so many activities that when they are with us, he never spends any time with our son. While my one year old might not notice it now, in a few years he might start resenting his ss and sb as whenever they’re with us daddy is driving to hockey or soccer. This week they’re with us and my husband has been out every single night driving them and watching their soccer games and I have been home alone as a “single mother” taking care of my very sick little baby boy. While my husband agrees that illness is more important then a soccer game, he does not follow through and help me.
I feel like I get no appreciation from the children for anything I do. Yet I have to work to pay for their child support even though I’d rather be at home taking care of my child. I also feel like I have no control over my house and the rules I want to enforce in it. Again, b/c my husband is so laid back I always come across as the wicked stepmother. Their own mother I hate to say it, but is a lot like me only to the extreme where she is actually controlling. I think I’m somewhere between the two of them, but when BM says something she is still mom and still loved whereas if I say something I feel like I’m getting the “evil Stepmom” label. I really just want a balance. I wish they could just see me as loving them and having boundaries which are healthy for everyone in our family.
Truthfully, as much as I LOVE my husband and love my stepchildren, if I would have known it was going to be this difficult I would not have married him. Obviously I wouldn’t ever trade my son but many, many times I’d like to trade my life for a marriage with just my own kids and no more drama. LOVE does NOT conquer all…life is SO NOT a fairy tale.
My husband and I have gone for some counseling and will continue to do so but sometimes it is just soooo hard and I just want to give up. Tomorrow we will be married for two years and I know he will probably say no matter how hard it is that he is glad he married me…but right now I don’t feel the same. I wish I could have just stayed his best friend and stayed as a trusted friend with his children instead of this Stepmom stuff. I LOVE being a mom and I LOVE his children but try as I do, I HATE being a Stepmom.
I also do not want to turn into a controlling angry and bitter person because of all of these negative feelings and this lack of happiness in my life.
I’m so sorry for all the pain and upset you’re experiencing right now. I believe you’ve just described how many, if not most, of us have felt at some point in our journey as stepmothers. This is hard stuff. I feel like I totally understand what you’re feeling. So, may I first offer you a huge cyber hug and assure you that all the things you’re feeling are valid, reasonable, not crazy or oversensitive and we’re going to honor every single one of them! You’re in an “out of control” situation and that’s going to bring up all the unhealed wounds of your past AND the natural rage at being out of control of your situation (as a Stepmom, as a wife and a woman.)
Since you didn’t ask a specific question, I’m going to imagine how best to support you today, remembering how I’ve felt at these times.
A couple of things to consider:
Some of the rage/anger/pain you’re feeling, may come from the fact that many of us grew up thinking over and over, “When I get my own home, I’m going to do…” and we believed we were going to set the rules, our rules! We do this to survive the rage of being controlled when we’re growing up. We’ve all had different childhoods, yet this “wish/dream/hope” for the future is a common one. Fast forward to present. We have our own homes, found the man we love, in your case, had a baby and things are supposed to be under your control. Right? You’ve been imagining that you were going to have everything the way YOU want it-at long last…WRONG! (This is excruciating, infuriating, temper-tantrum inducing,etc)
Instead, your home includes stepkids (stepkids) entering their teen years, a husband with a passive style that doesn’t stand up for your right to have your rules in your home AND the fact that you love these three people…this seriously interferes with the dream you may have invested so much energy in. Add this all up and rage (sense of powerlessness) is the result. This is a powerful energy that commands attention and you sound right in the fury of it. I’ve found that understanding, and having compassion for, the feelings that seem to flow from (sometimes explode out of) me can help me feel more grounded. Does that make sense to you? If you heard your tale from another woman, you’d probably understand why she felt as she did.
I say this, not knowing if you’ve already thought about it, and yet remembering the “ah ha” moment I had when I realized the source of so much rage. I thought, “Yes, this makes sense. I have another woman calling (or trying to call) the shots in my own home and my husband is not standing up for me, on issues that occur in my own home! Yiikes! This isn’t fair or right, it’s not supposed to be this way!” Add to it, the fact that you’ve been so terrific with his kids, invited them into your heart, given so much of yourself, willing to include them in your “happy family” life and now they seem to be turning on you and siding with their mother. OUCH!!!! and, from my experience, heartbreaking at many levels.
You’ve now had your own child (congrats on that) and this adds a whole other dimension to your world, your responsibilities and your dreams, not to mention hormones and new biological and emotional inner territory that are all impacting your well-being. The other smoms, who are also moms, will be able to support you tremendously, since I haven’t had a child on my own.
About the stepkids: There’s so much to say about what they could be going through. It can be devastating to watch how they turn on you, after all you’ve given them. You’re right, some of it’s about becoming teens and about their bio-mom’s influence. Their actions may also be the attempt to assuage the emotional turmoil created by what we call “The loyalty Wars.” Whether actively encouraged by the bio-mom and/or their own inner guilt of how much they love you and feel torn by their inability to realize that it’s OK to love more than one woman in the mothering role. Again, it’s not fair or right or good-but it may help you understand “why” they are doing what they’re doing. It can help you take their actions less personally. You can help them, if you wish, yet it requires you to help yourself first (kind of like the classic, put on your Oxygen mask first so you can help the others around you.) Please get the book, “Get out of my life, but first can you take me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony Wolfe. It’s is a terrific book about kids becoming teens and is filled with insights, practical advice and compassionate humor that will come on handy. Again, going on the viewpoint that understanding why and having a plan, helps you feel better.
Oh, yes, about what you said, you’re right, love is NOT enough. That realization is painful and can destroy a belief we’ve held on to for a long time. However, there is hope Mom710…you’re smart, loving, in touch with your feelings and you have many gifts and talents that you can choose to mobilize towards whatever new goals you choose to focus on. Although it may not feel like it, this choice is a point of power.
To me, much of the pain and rage I felt was because I gave away so much of my power (not just energy), in the effort to create the dream I envisioned when my SMOM-life started. I deferred, I understood, I was patient, I stepped aside, I backburner-ed some of my own desires all for the sake of helping my beloved and his child heal from their trauma. I kept believing that if I loved, understood and tried hard enough eventually everyone would get along. I did everything for my new family out of genuine love and enthusiasm, not realizing I was actually creating a trauma of my own in the process. I’m wondering if this is where you are right now. Could it be your “tank” of giving to others is empty and now you need something from these people and are not getting it?
If this is true, the key is about getting your power back, finding ways to have your needs and boundaries (emotional and physical) honored and healing up those emotional raw spots so that the actions of your husband, the stepkids’ and their bio-mom are all less hurtful to you.
Let’s try something different with this letter.
If you’re game, we’ll make it a bit more of a back and forth process. What are some of the specific things you’d like to see change, right now? You mentioned wanting to see your husband spend more time with his baby son while with the stepkids. There’s so much ground to cover, please give me some specifics of where and how you’d like some specific insights and ideas. You know your hot buttons and priorities. Write back to me and let’s get you started on a healing action plan…again, if the timing feels right for you. It’s your call, no pressure.
I would like to end by saying that I truly believe there are valuable lessons to learn when (or if) we feel ready to use the pain and circumstances we’re experiencing as clues to healing and understanding our own wounds. Somehow, our circumstances seem to stand right on top of our deepest emotional cuts, our beliefs, our dreams and the people around us seem unwilling to change in order to stop our pain/fear/hurt/anger, etc. It’s incredibly frustrating at first. However, speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that so many of the upsetting feelings you’re having CAN serve as guideposts to lead you to more wisdom, more strength, more power, more happiness and more freedom. It’s an intense, informal PhD program for personal transformation. You didn’t know you’d signed up for that possibility, did you? I’m not making light of your situation, not at all. This is just an option. As you get more and more insight into what’s happening, you’ll begin to see there’s a new light at the end of this tunnel…maybe and only if you want to.
There’s no right or wrong here. It’s a very personal choice. You can look at what’s happening to you in many ways. You’re the only one who can decide what you want and what you need. I want you to realize you do have more power than you may feel right now. Heck, you and your dreams have been emotionally battered so taking care of yourself, in my view, is number 1 priority right now. What do you want?
You have the power to choose how you will proceed. You have the power to decide what you can and can’t accept, live with, tolerate. You can decide how much the love you feel for these people is worth to you, as only you can gage the pain you’re in. You can dig in and find the slivers buried deep that are causing so much pain. You can choose to work on the more practical issues. These choices are within your power. Others are trampling on the boundaries and beliefs you have right now. You have the power to choose (or not) how much time, energy and attention you’re going to put into this situation.
And, just to be clear, you will get, nor feel, NO judgements from me about whatever you decide to do. We all have our own journey, our own process, our own timing and our lives are complex. I honor that and I’m here to help you get what YOU want, in the healthiest way possible. There are many choices ahead. I’m glad you found us and if you want to pursue this with me, please email me and together, we’ll see what the next steps could be. Trust yourself. Write to your sister SMOMS on the Bulletin board. If I hear from you, great. If not, that’s OK too.
Thinking of you and sending you my best wishes, Cathryn