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Experiences of a Stepmother
© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.
I will never forget the day I met my stepdaughter. She was 10 years old with curly blonde hair that hung in ringlets around her face and blue eyes to top her innocent beauty. She had been hanging around the campground where I had taken my children for the summer. After meeting her a few times, she innocently revealed how her mama had died in a car accident and how bad she missed her. My heart broke for her at that moment, and she knew she had me...
Let's just say, life with her did not turn out as planned. Young children who have lost a close parent to death miss them terribly. I witnessed her go through a number of emotions, from one extreme to another. And no matter how many times I let her drive me around on the country roads when she was 12, or played dress-up with her and her friends, I was still the evil stepmother. The age difference between my husband and I was 13 years, which caused my relationship with her to be more like that of two sisters.
The downfall of being a stepmother, especially when the biological mother has passed away, is that you are ALWAYS wrong. I don't care what the subject matter is, or if you earned a college degree in that area, you will never be right. In the early days, we got along well, as we were still in that "honeymoon phase" of our relationship. Add another year and a half to this mixed with puberty to top it off (and for the record, the idea that women who live together can have menstrual cycles in close proximity to each other is true). So now, I have an angry, missing her dead mother, menstruating, extremely depressed teenager, who gets P.M.S. every time that you do. Don't misunderstand me, for as many bad days we had, there were just as many good days. I have been called every terrible name in the book, and I have held her in my arms when she cried herself to sleep as she missed her mother. I have been slapped and hugged by her. I was the enemy because no matter how hard I tried, I would never be the mother she was trying so hard to hang onto.
Needless to say, just like many blended families, the odds were highly against us. My marriage to her father crumbled within a few years. Physical violence had erupted, so it was time to leave. Not to mention, I had no support from my husband as a co-parent. Guilt-ridden, I left with only one thing to say to her, "No matter what happens, I will always be here for you if you need me."
Several years passed and she grew up. We kept in touch, and she even came to live with me for awhile. That did not turn out well, to say the least. She is stubborn, and our relationship has been on again, off again. But I vowed to myself I would keep that promise, to be there for her no matter what.
Eventually, we did repair our relationship. The day she found out she was pregnant with her first baby, she asked me to take her to the doctor for her pregnancy test results. I went and sat with her throughout the whole ordeal. After the appointment, I drove her home as she cried her heart out (this was definitely an unplanned pregnancy). I remember her barely audible words, "I wish my mom was here, she will never get to meet her grandchild." I then reminded her of the promise I made to her several years prior, which was that I would always be there for her as long as she wanted me there. She hugged me hard and asked me if I would be the baby's grandma. What an honor! I agreed and have been "Nana" for almost four years. She now has two children, after she gave birth to a baby girl last year. My grandchildren know me well, and I spend a large amount of time with them.
I guess my reason for writing this article is not to tell a story, but to bring out some of obvious disadvantages and advantages to step-parenting. There is hope that someday, this stepchild that you are raising could grow up to have a close and loving relationship with you. There were times I wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. But now, when I look into the eyes of my precious grandchildren, I realize the whole ride was worth it.