On Being a New Stepmom

I sit here, wondering how being a Pagan step-parent is so different from being a non-Pagan step-parent. I would imagine that there are still the same frustrations and difficulties involved ... the main difference I would guess is in how you approach the obstacles and how you handle them.
I've told Oak several times that - at least in my viewpoint - oftentimes thenon-custodial biological parent doesn't realize how lucky he/she is ... they have, and will always have, the child's unconditional love. I, on the other hand, as a stepmother, have to work (and it IS work) every day to earn our daughters' affection and trust.
I won't lie to you, either ... there are moments when I wonder whether the work is worth it, and I frequently find myself second-guessing the way I handled a situation.
I don't really know that I'm in a position to offer any advice to anyone reading this; I'm fairly new at this myself.
I would guess the first thing you need to do, and probably the most important, is to make sure that this is really what you want. Maybe not every minute of every day *g* ... but overall. When you choose to share your life and love with someone who has children, you have to be willing to take the package deal. And like any package deal, it has its advantages and its disadvantages.
I do know one thing that does help ... talking to your intended beforehand about all aspects of raising children. Make sure the two of you can agree on at least most of the aspects. If you don't agree at first, find compromises that both of you can live with.
This, of course, is mostly common sense advice. But it still applies, no matter what your situation is.
Right now, let me focus on the situation I am most familiar with ... being a new stepmother (with no biological children of your own going into the marriage).
Give yourself a break - you are new at this, and it is just like learning anything new. You are going to make mistakes. You cannot be perfect at this right from the start ... instead, focus on doing the best that you can, most of the time.
Realize that you are becoming part of a ready-made family, with its own history and its own way of doing things. Now, this does NOT mean that you have to change the way you do everything. But it does mean you have to be sensitive as to what routines can and should be changed, and what routines need to stay the way they are.
You should try to sit down, with yourself, and figure out what you can compromise on, and what you cannot - or are not willing to - compromise on. You do not have to sacrifice your individuality to join this family ... after all, it is this individuality that is part of what your husband fell in love with. By setting these priorities, you can learn to "pick your own battles," as Oak likes to put it.
Bathrooms, by the way, are a wonderful thing! LOL They make a great retreat when you need a few minutes ... whether it is to get some peace and quiet, to cry in private, or to rant and rave under the cover of the shower. Don't underestimate the haven a bathroom can provide. Take advantage of it, whenever you need to.
One of the most important agreements that Oak and I made, long before we were married, was one that I swore to myself I would keep ... I have not and will not bad-mouth our daughters' biological mother in front of them. There are times when this is hard (this is when the bathroom comes in handy), but it is important to me. This is a commitment I recommend to any new step-parent. No matter what your feelings about your spouse's ex are, the children still have that person as a biological parent. Even if you have no respect for that person, have respect for your new children's feelings. They are the ones who will be the most hurt by any disparaging remarks that you make.
Developing a thick skin is another important part of becoming a new stepmother. You cannot be insulted every time your stepchildren refer to their biological mother; she is still very much a part of their lives. And despite how it might feel to you sometimes, not all of their remarks are designed to make you feel guilty. They have a need to talk about their parents - ALL of them - and, if you want to be a good mom, you need to respect that.
Most of all, you have to realize and respect your own limits. You are not, despite what everyone tells you, going to be a supermom in the space of a few days, or weeks, or months. You are learning new skills and new ways of doing things. Cut yourself some slack, and make sure you include a few minutes every day to do something where you are not being "mommy" (or whatever they call you).
Recognize that you are human ... you are going to have your moments when you are angry, or hurt, or depressed, or all of the above. Make sure you have some outlets, whether they are family, friends, or even just some punchable pillows and a hot shower.
Most of all, do what I did ... pick yourself someone who is a wonderful husband and father, and who has terrific children. It makes all of the difficult times worth it!

Amberflame ~ 3/14/99 



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