The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Feb 17, 2011

The Stepmom Wall: A Stepmom's Say

I don't have time to do my own writing anymore. Mainly because I'm spending too much time posting other people's stuff on my facebook wall. After all I am what I put at the top of my blog. A conduit. So I am promoting work that touches me.

Here's a blog I stumbled upon today. I have to admit Matt & I have struggled in this area. I shut my heart down for protection but remain ultimately open emotionally to my biological children, despite what they might do to hurt me. He is the same. There IS a difference in the connection between yourself and another person's child. It is unavoidable. Your child is YOURS. And a stepchild is not. You are only the step parent, even if you are in it 24/7. You remain the other.

As my children get older, I find myself in an almost constant state of reflection regarding my relationship with them and my place/importance in their lives. Having taught middle school for 10 years, I know what a complex and annoying creature an almost-teenager can be. Therefore, it is no surprise to me that there is an awkwardness that hovers over our house these days in our relationship with my stepsons.

We’re not cool anymore, and we sure as heck don’t have the answers they want to hear. It’s all normal.

Still, I know that the things I have been feeling aren’t exactly “normal.” As my own children grow older and begin to do the things that my stepsons were doing when I entered their lives, I am forced to admit that I feel differently about most things. I enjoy things with my children in ways that I never enjoyed with my stepsons. Most stepmoms will face this realization (if they can) with a sense of guilt and horror that they have somehow failed. There is a part of me that does feel like that.

But there’s another part of me that is beginning to understand what my role was never meant to be. The more I come to grips with my life as a mother, the more I understand my life as a stepmother.

We all have some walls that we surround ourselves with in order to guard against disappointment and hurt. If we are lucky, those walls aren’t that big or thick, and we make sure the gate is always open for those we love. I think most stepmoms (including myself) keep the gate locked for our stepchildren. I definitely scale the wall to meet them outside—and I really do love them—but the truth is, I have not let them as close to my heart as my own sons. I just can’t. Their potential to hurt me is so much greater than my own sons.

Funny how that works, huh?

I have had so many people tell me how important it is that I don’t treat my stepsons any differently than my own sons. To the extent that I can, I absolutely do this. Any variations in rules and expectations are mostly due to age. But there is something so false about this premise that I almost get angry when I think about what people are asking me to do.

There are many people in my life that I love. That I have CHOSEN to love. But this love is not unconditional in a way that a mother’s love is. I love my stepsons as much as I could ever love someone else’s kids. But I don’t love them the same way that I love my children. In addition, when you bring a child into the world, your heart is given to them in a way that is virtually impossible to give to another human being. For all of the intense feelings of love that we have for others, there is nothing like what we feel for our children. For some reason though, we expect a “good” stepmom to love her stepchildren the same way she loves her children. As if love is something that we just will ourselves into.

As much as I hate to admit it, some of why I have a stepmom wall is because of my stepsons’ mother. I just can’t let them get close enough to me so that she can use them to hurt me. I just can’t. Maybe this makes me weak, but it is just the truth. And I know it is not fair to them—–but it’s just how it is.

At this point in my life, I’m not sure that The Stepmom Wall is a bad thing. For me, it has allowed me to have a healthier, albeit more distant, relationship with my stepsons. It’s a fact of life for right now and it allows me to be the kind of mother I need to be for my sons. I hope that someday when my stepsons are adults, I will be able to have a more open relationship with them without the fear that BM will use them to hurt me. But for now, the wall stays.

As much as the perception and expectations of stepmoms is a constant source of frustration for me, I think that we all need to be a little bit more patient with the ignorant masses. The truth is, you honestly don’t know what it is like to be a stepmom until you are one. The best we can do is try our hardest and inform those around us about the realities of what we do and what we face.

And for people like me, put it out there for you to read.

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