When I first embarked on the journey of marrying a man with minor children in the home, I had grand expectations of what my role as a stepmother would be. I envisioned planning unforgettable family vacations, assisting with homework, organizing epic birthday parties, and even playing a role in discipline. However, the reality I faced was far different from what I had imagined. This week I want to share the unfiltered truth about my experiences and the stark contrast between my expectations and reality as a stepmother.
I eagerly anticipated planning memorable family vacations. However, the reality hit hard when my efforts were met with indifference and a lack of appreciation. Despite my enthusiasm and dedication to creating cherished memories, I found myself feeling like the invisible orchestrator behind the scenes. I envisioned myself as the helpful stepmother, assisting with homework and nurturing academic growth. Yet, my efforts were often undermined. It seemed that my assistance was deemed unnecessary or even unwanted. My attempts to offer support and guidance were met with resistance or brushed aside, leaving me feeling undervalued and questioning my role. I envisioned growth milestone such as birthdays and graduations where I would showcase my creativity and shower my husband’s children with love and celebration. However, the reality was I was just scen as a driver, an ATM and the maid. It became apparent that the role I had envisioned was not the one they wanted or maybe even needed.
I believed that as the other adult in the room, I would have some influence in discipline and consequences. However, the reality was quite different. My attempts to establish boundaries or reinforce discipline were met with resistance, as if my input and authority held little weight. It became clear that my role in shaping and guiding behavior was overshadowed by existing dynamics and reminder that I am not a parent just another adult in the room.
Coming to terms with the reality that I am just another adult in the room and not what I expected a ‘parent’ so no need to put ‘step’ in front was heartbreaking while at the same time liberating. I do not have to plan epic vacation with children, most parents hate them anyway and I get to get to be free of planning. I get to plan epic vacations for my husband and I or me and my friends, all who appreciate my efforts. I do not need to remember how to congregate a verb or know the hypotenuse of a right triangle. I do not have to plan epic birthday parties. My friends ask me to help them plan epic parties for their kids and I love supporting them, they want my help and value it, priceless. Lasly coming into a relationship with a man that has minor children the tone for discipline has already been set, no need for me to share my naive expectations or visions with children who have an established understanding of disciplne. What joy? Children do not clean their room. Not my problem. Children come in after curfew, my input is not needed. Children do not wash dishes or clean up the kitchen well I actually will ask them to clean this up. This is the only place where I definitely say something I cannot stand a dirty kitchen but overall you get my point. Embracing the reality versus my expectations has been pricelessly freeing. It allows me to be free to support my husband in raising his children the way he and his ex-wife have set and allows me to have a relationship with the children that is focused on being an adult that is supporting them and their parents that is not overshadowed by ‘she’ is always telling me what to do or ‘she’ is trying to be my mom.
Depending on what age the children are when you enter into a household with a person with children you can easily and quickly be perceived as the ‘evil step.’ The transition from what you expected and what you gave and were willing to give in the beginning changes to reality and what is healthy for all involed is ‘the making of the evil stepmother.’ in the eyes of the children and even in your own eyes.
Have you experienced a similar transition from expectations to reality in a blended family? How have your roles and responsibilities evolved over time? What have you learned about finding a healthy balance between your own desires and supporting your partner in parenting? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.