Literature and pop culture are rife with examples of Wicked Stepmothers, those unloving brutes who force their stepchildren to do impossible chores while coddling their own spoiled brats.
Motherlode offers us a glimpse of the other side of that coin with a letter from a desperate stepmom, who has four stepchildren and three little kids of her own. She wrote in saying:
I need help. I’m married. I have 4 step-kids. I dislike two of them…I just don’t get why I feel this way. I also feel trapped. I feel 50 and I’m 25. I want to feel young again.
Ouch. For starters, of course, this woman’s problem is not chiefly with her stepkids. She’s got three little kids of her own, four stepkids who are not much older, and a husband who (from her letter) is clearly not carrying his share of the parenting burden. Parenting seven kids isn’t a recipe for feeling young and carefree.
That aside though, it’s kind of refreshing to see a stepmom talk about how hard it can be to blend a family.
I have a stepson, and we’ve been blessed with a great relationship. I think I can count on my fingers the number of fights we’ve had in the eight years we’ve been sharing a home and a family. I’m really grateful to him for his willingness to accept me and the kids his dad and I had together. It was a huge change, and he weathered it beautifully.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Marrying someone who was already raising a child with an ex-spouse meant accepting a lot of limits on the shape my life would take. I got a great husband and a wonderful kid.
I also got child support payments and a college tuition bill that is looming two years in my future instead of fifteen years away. I can’t make the rules for him, but it’s my job to enforce them when we’re at home together. I don’t choose his activities or schedule, but it’s my job to drive him to summer camp and make sure he gets out the door for his volunteer work.
Which is to say that even in the Holy Grail of blended families, where everyone loves each other and communicates well, there are plenty of challenges.
Most kids coming into a blended family are dealing with a lot of big challenges. They’re being asked to accept a new adult in their lives as a parent. They’re probably also taking in a new home, and possibly new siblings. Often a new school and friends as well. It’s a lot of change for a child, and they’re going to act out. The stepparent is the easiest target, in a lot of cases.
Have you been a stepparent, or a steppchild? How have you handled the transition into making a new family? What are your relationships like with your stepkids now?
Photos: Jared Smith
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