Wed 1 May 2013
This is the first post in the third edition of The Gift of StepMom collection. I started this series in 2011 to celebrate stepmothers at Mother’s Day and the response has been overwhelming. I’m excited to share a new post each day leading up to Mother’s Day! Our first story comes from Louise. She and I first connected via social media. I knew from our initial contact that this woman loved and valued her family while being honest about the struggles that come with being a stepmom. Her heart is for her family and her words illustrate the gifts of her blended family as well as her insight into “instant motherhood.” I’m honored to share with you her story:
A Stepmother’s Heart: The Gift of Children to Love by Louise
I never thought in a million years that my first foray into parenting would be with a man with a child let alone three but it’s been the most fulfilling risk I’ve ever taken. I’m of the opinion that it takes a certain type of person to take that leap of faith, that’s not to say I’m any different then people who don’t go down this route. However, it’s not for everyone & I question everyday why me, why put me in this position. What do I have to give or learn from being a StepMom? Three years on I’ve still found no answer that makes sense to me, other than the plain realisation that I’ve been given a gift of children to love, teach and inspire.
As a StepMom to two boys 12 & 10 and an 8 year old girl, I walked in to a potential minefield when we first met. Luckily for me, they first accepted me as a StepMom-in-Training & then as a StepMom when their Dad & I got married. They have the most beautiful, precious & loving souls I could have met. Hugs & kisses are frequent, cuddles on the couch are treasured & their bubbly personalities shine through. Our relationship has been plain sailing in comparison to how it could have gone, it is absolutely attributed to my husband & the full parenting role I’m able to engage in.
It’s been the biggest gift that they have supported their father & the choices he has made. They have allowed me to fully participate in their lives, to love them & care for them as much as I believe a parent should. It’s an important lesson to learn early on, as a StepMom I can’t force the children to love me or respect me. I can only be open to them, show them how I want to treat them & hope they trust me enough to allow me in to their lives. If they chose not to there isn’t much I can do, you have to respect the loyalties & boundaries they have to their Mom, irrespective of your own personal opinions. It’s about the children.
It is impossible for those who aren’t StepParents to understand how I think & feel for my StepChildren or truly understand how much parenting I’m involved in but they aren’t supposed to. The culture I live in isn’t as open to the notion of StepParents being an effective part of the family dynamic, so there are very few supports for us. Playing an active role is frowned upon by most & embraced by few. The idea of them ‘not being your children’ is floated around a lot. As I’ve grown in my role I’ve learned to come back with ‘while I may not have given birth, I parent & love them as much as they allow me to.’
Children will be children, act out & misbehave but it’s not directed towards me. It’s because they are children & nobody, child or adult, is perfect. I’ve been blessed with a husband who has let me discipline the children, set boundaries & play an effective parent. This has allowed the children to respect me as an equal voice in our home. My husband doesn’t dote on the children so I don’t have to play bad cop when necessary to keep the peace. Rewards are earned in our home & no one parent shoulders sole responsibility.
We have a similar style of parenting & we don’t clash on issues of discipline, chores and upbringing. One of things my husband always told me, even when we dated, was how our values & morals were the same. I believe this is essential to be able to parent as a unit & function in a drama free household. We are stronger because of that. We deal with issues relating to the children as one, he confides in me & wants me to be a part of their lives. It’s a choice he didn’t have to make. We could have been a separate unit but it wouldn’t be a fair example to the children he brought in to this world. They deserve someone who is as committed to them as she is to their father. They are not disposable items, you can’t end your relationship with children as easily ending a partnership/marriage.
Being a StepMom has made me challenge my thinking & my beliefs. I’ve had to learn to let go of the notion that I can fix everything & everyone. Unfortunately there are areas that StepMoms can’t influence, no matter how much logic or sense we try to impart. It takes a while to get to the point where you can actively accept that this is the reality. I’m luck enough that my Husband gives me support, let’s me vent and understands that I have the children’s & his best interests at heart.
I know I will never be the children’s mother, nor will I ever replace her in their eyes & hearts. I don’t want to and I don’t need to. However, I am their StepMom and I’m proud to be their StepMom. I’ve been given the opportunity to parent three amazing children for the last three years. My husband has given me the gift of children. Those children are part of him and have shaped him to be the man that I fell in love with. It would, in my eyes, be unfair to give them any less love and support than they deserve. All I desire to be is a parent, a support & an inspiration to them.
Being a StepMom has thought me more about myself and about society then I could have ever dreamed of. It’s made me realise who I am, what’s important in life and what is ultimately worth letting go of. It’s a gift that I love more everyday and fight harder to keep everyday. I try to better myself to be the best Wife and StepMom I can. It was an instafamily, but one I would never give up, I respect my family more everyday and I prioritize them to the highest.
Being a StepMom is a wonderful gift, it is a non-returnable gift, there are no exchanges or refunds. It’s made me a stronger person, it’s made me value the rights of a child and fight for what’s right for them every day. My husband was good enough to share with me this gift of motherhood and trust that I would use it wisely. For that, I am forever grateful.
Louise, 28 is from Ireland and calls it home. She is a StepMom to 3 and soon to be a first time BioMom. She met her husband in January 2010 and they married in Nov 2011.
Grateful for Louise and her sharing from the heart. Did her story resonate with you? What gifts have you received from becoming a stepmom? Were you given the gift of “instant” motherhood when you became a stepmom?