Sarah shares her journey into stepmotherhood and lessons learned. Her heart will bless you and her learnings are some that you can identify with. Most of us go into the land of stepmom thinking “I can do this!” only to find out that we had no clue what “this” really is. Here is Sarah’s heart:

Growing Into Stepmom by Sarah Kinbar

I fell in love with Todd before I knew his two daughters, and before he knew my son and daughter. It was (and is) an intense love, like first love. In this blissed-out frame of mind, my perspective was, shall we say, limited. I knew 100% of nothing about blended families, and in my sheer ignorance, I thought that once we were ready to introduce the kids into our relationship, if they clicked, so would everything else. If they didn’t, we’d have to have a serious conversation about whether or not we wanted to move forward with our relationship.

Our children did like each other right away. The companionship was sweet, and our get-togethers were like play dates warmed up with romance. When you love a guy, spending time with him is awesome. When you love a guy and his children, and all three are beloved by your own children, the only place to go is nowhere. You just want to be right where you are, forever.

Now that we’re living together, the friendliness between the six of us has created a fun and engaging atmosphere in our home and helps soften the edges when problems arise. Challenges unique to blended family life can appear at any time, and it was one of these that at once shattered my naivety and reminded me how much I need the loving bonds of our blended family. Giving to our family is always front of mind, but yes, I need our togetherness, our funniness and our tears. All of it.

I was almost done grocery shopping at Target on a Monday with my sleepy toddler when my cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was tight, accusatory and stern. At first I wondered if it was a wrong number. Where’s Todd? I haven’t been able to reach him. Do you know why he’s not answering his phone? Did you notice our daughter feeling unwell or having a fever over the weekend? Because she’s burning up! Why didn’t anyone call me or take her to the doctor? I would think that as a mother you would be more alert to things like this.

Well, hello! I was in the line of fire and had no idea why. No one was sick that I was aware of. What fever? Todd was on a long flight, so I couldn’t redirect the call to its proper recipient.

An angry phone call from his ex was in itself a small thing, until it became more calls, and then a sweeping, negative view of my mothering skills.

Looking back, I now think it’s slightly cute that I believed everything would click so long as our children did. Feeling strong and confident as a mother, I didn’t realize that the stepmom role isn’t as straightforward. Developing a relationship with Todd’s children opened me up to criticism I wasn’t familiar with or comfortable with. I’ve had to become much stronger, and much more willing to manage conflict for the sake of love.

Mother’s Day is coming up. On that day, I’ll be working at the flower shop that day, apart from my kids and step kids. As I’m making flower arrangements for moms all around town, I’ll be thinking about the strength and love that a blended family mom must embody, and thinking of ways I can grow more fully into this role.

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Sarah Kinbar and her partner Todd Ristorcelli live in Orlando, Florida, with their four children. They share custody with their exes. Sarah’s son is 10 and her daughter is 4 1/2. Todd’s older daughter is almost 9 and his younger daughter is 5. Keep up with the family at bigblendedfamily.com or on Twitter @bigblendedfam
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