Step-Motherhood: The Real Thing?
The Facts of Step-Life
According to the US Census Bureau, 1,300 new step-families form each day. Over 50% of American families are remarried or 're-coupled.'
Growing up I didn't take much notice to who's parent's were still together and who's parents had separated. It just didn't matter. All of my friends were surrounded by loving families and that's all we cared about. Being loved.
So why does it matter now? Why do others seem so interested in the marriages of others? Their concern lies with the 'steps,' not the well-being of the children. I constantly hear gossip like, "Is he good to her kids?" "I heard she spanks his kids!" Geeze. The things so called 'real' parents talk about!
The Evil Queen
So let's focus on stepmoms. I can tell you from first hand experience that it is no easy task. The child-caring is not the hard part, it's what people think about you. Constantly being referred to as the down-graded mother. We are compared to step-mothers like Snow White's, the Evil Queen. Assumptions are taken and I am often asked if I hate taking care of a child that is not biologically mine.
I wonder how people have grown up to be so ignorant. What makes my love any different than that of a "real parent." I know not everyone has had a good experience with their step parent. I have heard stories of people being locked out of their home until dinner-time. What you have to keep in mind is that any person could be a bad parent, step or not.
I would like to point out some things that are said to us step-moms that really hurt. I want you to know how it affects us and how you can stop being another ignorant person and start thinking like a parent.
1. When Will You Have Your Own?
PULL MY HAIR OUT AND CALL ME HADES! If I have to hear this question one more time I may explode. No, I have never been pregnant. I have never carried a baby in my belly, and thus have never delivered a child into this world in an agonizing fashion.
Does giving birth give you the right to be called "Mother?" There are millions of women in the world who give birth and are terrible to their children. Giving birth is not what makes you a mom.
Being there when that child has a big moment such as a school program or a dance recital; that makes you a mom.
Making sure their priorities are placed above your own. That their cares are your cares and their imagination can make your heart fly; thats what makes you a mom.
When they come to you and seek recognition for a job well done; that look in their eyes is what makes you a mom.
It's the patience, kindness and loving attitude you share with them that makes them YOUR CHILDREN. Age does not matter, only the feeling of belonging matters.
So, I do have my own child, and she loves me unconditionally just as I love her.
2. You Must Not Get Along With Her Mom
I can't really blame people for this one. Most of the time, step-families do not have a good relationship. There is that small percentage in the world that actually get along. First of all, I would never talk about my step-daughters mother. Not in front of her and not behind her back. She is a mother and she deserves respect. Also, it is not anyone's business how I feel about her, or how my husband feels about the stepfather. Please do not assume you know the relationship between the parties, and never bring it up in front of the child! That's the worst thing you can do for the child. Co-parenting CAN exist in "split-families," as long as everyone put's the child's best interest first.
3. It's Different When It' Your Own
Let's just cut to the chase. We have my stepdaughter, and then we don't. It is a terrible situation, however, we get through it together. The fact that I don't get to see her everyday is excruciating. I am constantly thinking about what she is doing. My husband and I are often repeating her little jokes she says during our time together, it just makes her seem a little closer when she is gone.
So, you are telling me that when she has to get a shot, I don't feel the same as you do about her pain? When she doesn't understand why her friend didn't want to play with her today, it's easier for me because she isn't mine? When she starts asking me questions about God and wondering why she should pray before dinner time, it's different because she is my STEPchild?
Just take a second and think of how hurtful you are being. I can tell you that when I first met that little girl, I wasn't sure how far my relationship with her father would go. I was scared to get too close because she was only two, and I didn't want her being confused when and if I went out of the picture. When I first met her I didn't have this instananeous explosion of pure love. I will be honest and tell you that it took a few years to feel truly connected to her. I had to put in the time and patience to feel what being a mother was all about.
So no matter what she goes through, or what she does, it affects me just as hard as it affects you: "the real parent."
It is not different, because she is my own.
Think Before You Speak
There are several other things that are said on a daily basis that really frustrate me! But, we don't have time for a list that long. The old adage, "think before you speak," can apply to anything. Let's take it into practice when we perceive how people are as parents. Perception and fact are two totally different things.