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Stepmoms: You’re not alone

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there. I hope you all had a wonderful day and that your family celebrated you. I myself am lucky to have a supportive and giving mother who is the most loyal person I know. She always thinks of me and my children before she thinks of herself.

And Happy Stepmother’s Day to all of the stepmothers too. You have one of the most divcult roles on the planet. I know because I am one of you and I know it’s not an easy role to take on. It can be incredibly rewarding some days, heart-breaking and gut-wrenching other days. I have my own daughter (age 9 going on 35), plus three stepsons, ages 15, 12 and 11.

My husband and I have been married al- most five years and I met his boys two years before that. I have always adored them and they are great kids. We hit it ou immediate ly. They immediately took Carolina into their fold and made her feel welcome from the day they met her.

But let me tell you why it’s really hard. It’s not because I want pity. It’s because I wish someone had told me how hard it would be.

I wish I’d had more nonjudgmental support from others who understand what it’s like.

It’s so others stepmoms out there know they are not alone.

My life is not my own. I know that’s the case for many people once they have children, because the children become their fo- cus (understandably and justifiably so). But decisions are made over which I have no con- trol, but they auect me greatly. My husband and the boy’s mom decide what the boys do. I have no say in what activities the boys are in, but I have to help make sure they get there or go to them. No big deal, right? It is when they are in football, baseball, cross country, basketball, track, school musicals, piano lessons, church groups, 4-H, choir and band. I’m sure I’m forgetting something. We literally have at least one activity (if not two or more) going on seven days a week. And that’s not even counting my own daughter, who is in 4-H, volleyball and softball. My husband tries to bear the brunt of taxiing them around, but when he’s unavailable (like August through November when he’s coaching football) and it’s our time (we share 50/50 custody), that duty falls to me. Most of the time I don’t mind, but there are times when it’s tough because it’s expected, even if I have something going on (such as work or a meeting).

Big decisions such as education and medical care and everyday small decisions such as discipline, screen time, homework and schedules are made and I am expected to "go with the flow" without complaint, even if I don’t agree with some of those decisions.

That’s not to say I can’t talk to my husband about things, but it can still be tough to realize a third party has so much sway over what goes on in our household. That doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t respect my feelings, but he still has to co-parent with someone else who handles things diuerently than we do. We can’t plan a vacation without consulting bio mom first. We can't decide how long that vacation will be without her take, because it may auect her schedule. You get the drift. I’m all about being considerate, so we do the best we can. But it’s hard!

A blogger I follow talked about “wine mom culture." Shirts emblazoned with "Mommy needs wine" or "I run on couee and wine" are all the rage now. It's okay for moms to say they need a break from their kids, or count down the days until they go to camp. But if a stepmom does that, she is often considered evil, mean and terrible. If you say you’re looking forward to your stepkids going to camp or that you need a glass of wine after a stressful day with them, society deems you a big jerk. You’re supposed to love them unconditionally with a big smile on your face and gratitude that you’re “al- lowed" to be their bonus parent, even when they are rude, disrespectful or treat you like a maid/waitress.

I do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to helping with homework, doing their laundry, keeping activities straight, cooking for them, buying clothes for them, cleaning up after them, comforting them when they’re sick, staying up late to help them with last-minute school projects. I’m good enough to be a parent when it makes things easier for everyone in the daily grind, but when it comes to the big things, sometimes I’ve been a spectator at best. It’s not that I want credit or pats on the back. It’s just that it’s hard to feel second rate or invisible when you pour your heart and soul into doing the right thing for kids you love.

Being a stepmom is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever taken on. I love those boys like they are my own and I will continue to do my best by them. I’m not perfect and there will be tough days. But I hope someday they will look back and know that I did my best and that I love them, even if I’m not their "real" mom. I would never try to take their mom’s place; they have a great mother. Just remember that stepmoms are "real" people too.

BY SARAH NIGBOR

May 10, 2022