At times, the stepmom journey can seem like a never-ending struggle on all fronts. It is at those times that you need to remind yourself of the reasons you committed yourself to this new family unit. Start with reading my list, then create your own for those days when you feel yourself beginning to grapple with the assault on your sanity.
7 Things I Enjoy Most About Being a Stepmom
1. Look who I got to marry!
I must start with the obvious. After over twelve years together, I still remain in awe of the man I married. He is still the same brilliant, sexy, stubborn man who put a ring on my finger and led me into a life of parenting. I don’t know that I ever imagined what our life would look like all these years down the road but I do know that I would do it all again, a thousand times.
When in doubt about your stepfamily life, look to the person who brought you into this life as a reminder of the worth of the relationships that are evolving.
2. Getting to watch my husband be a father.
One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband was because of his abundant love for his children. It is rare to see the man who enjoyed his kids as people the way my husband did and still does. When I would compliment him on a job well done, he always replied, “It has been my pleasure to raise my kids.” How could I not fall for that?
Getting to see that love in action was a witness to how he lives. Despite their launch into adulthood, I am still awed by his parenting choices. He seems to know when to jump right in and just when to slip into oblivion. He is also the man who taught me that just because the kids are out of the house does not mean that the parenting days are over.
3. Good times and great stories.
Early dates with my husband involved school gyms, bleachers, golf carts and lots of take out food with the occasional concession stand hot dog thrown in the mix. Romantic, right? Still, it was fun. It had been years since I had seen the inside of a school gym. (They look the very same.) It was not long before I was wearing school colors. Then there were the regular trips to Disney World, carpools, failed graham cracker pie, vacation with a stepson who packed no pants and a world of family jokes of which I am now a part. But without all of those times together, the angst and the joy, I would have missed a slew of great stories.
4. Built-in friends.
Our go-to’s for Friday night date night? Our adult kids. That’s no joke. When we want to go to dinner or a movie, we call either my parents, our kids or both. It’s a great feat to help raise people with whom you genuinely enjoy spending time.
5. Creating a family out of the death of the old.
Every stepfamily is born out of grief whether that is death or divorce. Therefore, the early days of forming a stepfamily may involve some recalibration on the part of the entire family. Perhaps the family is in a new home or constructing new routines and traditions. In our case, we started our marriage with a move across town, different house, and different scenery.
Whatever the case, it is important to recognize that there may be some discomfort on the part of some or all family members. It is normal. Each person works through this hardship in their own time and in their own way. On the other side of the grieving process, however, is the opportunity to embrace a new adventure as a family unit. Moreover, you now get to show your tribe the reality of a stable, loving relationship.
6. I surpassed my own expectations.
I could provide you an entire list of all of the once disregarded chores at which single me laughed and married me embraced. Cooking, for starters. Does any singleton actually cook a meal or consume a diet that resembles anything akin to the parameters of the food pyramid? Sixteen-year-old me called a friend to ask how to fry an egg. True story. Yet, I am the same person who now cooks most meals at home and hosts Sunday dinners for our adult children.
Cooking is just one example of the ways in which I managed to surprise myself. Frankly, my dedication to my stepchildren, helping them grow into responsible young adults has been one of my proudest achievements. The single me that scoffed at thoroughly traditional choices now finds those same choices to be some of the most fulfilling. And I am known for making one helluva scone!
7. The amazing stepmoms I have met.
Not long after I became a stepmom, I began blogging and writing about my stepmom experiences. Lo and behold, there were other stepmoms out there doing the same! I have gained more insight and wisdom from these smart, engaging ladies than I could have imagined when I began the stepmom journey. Not only that, my enduring friendships with some of those closest to me were deepened by our connection of “mothering.” What may have made me feel an
Not only that, my enduring friendships with some of those closest to me were deepened by our connection of “mothering.” What may have made me feel an outsider, in the beginning, has propelled me into new levels of relationship in nearly every facet of my life.