Jane’s Guest List: Being Someone’s Stepmum


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My parents divorced when I was twelve. It was a difficult time. No surprise there. A marriage breaking-down is never going to be easy.  Add to that teenage hormone and it’s a recipe for disaster.

During that period I was so caught up in my own head that I didn’t have time to consider how the experience of taking on 4 kids might have been for either my Stepparents. The challenges they faced, the emotional battles, especially with the lack of support available 20 years ago.

Blended families are the new normal. I love the work Jane of @supportourstepmums is doing via Instagram. I also found her Guest List enlightening and surprisingly emotional:

  • I became a Stepmum kind of by accident. I didn’t grow up wanting to be one, I didn’t have one in my life and I didn’t fully realise what I was getting myself into. It happened very quickly. I met a guy at a party 5 years ago who kindly offered to hold my hair back when I thought I was going to be drunk sick. I wasn’t, but I think it’s still the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me…! Somewhere down the line we started going on dates and by dates I mean one meal in a restaurant and a thousand other dates at his house in his bed. I didn’t want anything serious so the fact he had a two-year-old child wasn’t on my radar. Only it became quite serious quite quickly and then it was time to meet his little boy. 

  • I grew up babysitting, loving children and being told I was ‘great with kids’, ‘they love you’ so armed with this extensive(!) experience and endorsement I quite sheepishly met my other half’s son. And so it began. It was a great first meeting and we were lucky enough to get on. I was obsessed with my new-ish boyfriend and opened my arms to all that came with him with complete abandonment. At the time none of my friends had children. I had no children. I didn’t know anyone with a stepchild. It was new territory. I didn’t consider myself a Stepmum at the time and it took longer than expected to settle into this new role which i wasn’t at all prepared for. I wasn’t expecting to have a new role to be honest. I now know I had no idea what was to come and the list of things I didn’t expect got and gets longer as time goes on.

  • I felt lonely. Strangely isolated in a house full of people. I felt bad for feeling lonely and not being able to explain it. I felt on the outside of two people who were both willing to share their lives with me and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I was really hard on myself and it took me a very long time to share this feeling with my other half because I felt guilty about it. I thought it was a reflection on my stepson and my family when it wasn’t. It was more a reaction to being in a situation where no-one around me felt the same as I did and didn’t understand where I was coming from. Feeling overwhelmed was a massive issue for me.Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 11.18.57 AM

  • I wasn’t prepared for my stepson coming to live with us 5 days a week. He did so over a year ago and you’d think after four years of creating a relationship and a life with him in it that the transition would be easy. It wasn’t. I found it really difficult. I wasn’t fully ready to let my old life with my other half go just yet. Although I made a considered decision to support him in his parental responsibility, the reality of it was tough and immediate. And all consuming, verging on resentment. If my other half hadn’t near forced me to talk to him about it I don’t know where we’d be now.

  • I didn’t expect to form a fierce bond and protection over this little boy. In the beginning, he was my boyfriend’s son. Once removed from me and not my responsibility. Fast forward through sleep training, potty training, picking nurseries, schools, running to dentist and opticians, helping him learn to read, nursing him through sickness etc and watching him grow into the awesome little guy he is…it all made me a very protective Stepmum. That scares me sometimes.

  • I didn’t expect to care so much about what he wears. I argue with Dad about this. I have a strange obsession with coordinating things. It makes me feel happy to know that the colours on my stepson’s socks match the colours on his outfit. Who knew. 

  • I did not realise how important it was to look after yourself and your own personal mental health in amongst the chaos of child custody discussions, living arrangement battles and major life changes. It’s madness and I suffered low-level anxiety throughout which I thought I had under control from years ago until it reared its ugly head again. All I can say is CBT and meditation. And take some time to be kind to yourself. I didn’t expect to want to look after someone else’s well-being before my own.

  • Feeling like a fraud wasn’t on my radar either. In the beginning, I would stop myself from sharing stories of my stepsons latest nonsense, behaviour, hilarity as I felt like people were silently judging me or thinking I didn’t have a clue because I wasn’t a real mum. I got over this recently. I’m a Stepmum, I’m happy to own that now.

  • My other half and I never really discussed how we would raise our children because we weren’t planning on procreating anytime soon so the shock of realising that we had totally different parenting styles was immense. We both thought we knew best. We argued about it, sometimes still do, and every time I’m amazed at how dramatically different we think about things. We’ve fallen out numerous times through not seeing each other’s point of view. It’s ridiculous.

  • Sometimes I have to take a back seat. That’s hard. Having no control over some of the big decisions in my stepson’s life but having to deal with the result of them is a really strange feeling. That one doesn’t get easier with time.Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 11.20.03 AM

  • My stepson drives me mad. To the point where I’ll lock the bathroom door and have a pretend wee to get a little minute to myself and get it together. This doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It doesn’t mean I don’t like him. I didn’t know that.

  • People have so many opinions on me and what I’m doing. I’ve been accused of playing Mummy, taking my Stepson from his Mum and referred to as a stranger to him after 4 years amongst other things. This is brutal. I already put myself under pressure as a step parent, this adds to it. No-one really knows what goes on in our house nor the finer details of why my Stepson now lives with us. It’s none of their business and their agreement isn’t something we seek, however, people speak up without being asked and on something so personal I struggle to see why. I like to think I don’t care what people think but when they’re judging you and being vocal about it, it hurts. I just want to be a good Stepmum. Not Mum. Stepmum. I’m not interested in a competition, I wish people could see that.

  • The level of self-doubt that comes with being a Stepmum is unreal. I automatically question most things I do as I believe I’m missing that magical biological instinct to mother. I over analyse and drive myself mad with it.

  •  There is no social norm to follow as a Stepmum. There’s no way to prepare for it and no book that guides you through it. Navigating a relationship along with it is tricky never mind everyday life. I have scoured the internet for support and advice. It’s hard to pick out the bits that are useful in between the bitter advice and #blessed crew. I want honest, realistic advice and examples of how people have managed this situation with success and ways to improve what I’m currently experiencing. I couldn’t find the right support resource for me so began Support Our Stepmums on Instagram as a way of creating that for myself and others without the negativity of bringing down Bio Mum’s. 

  • Ultimately I wasn’t expecting to really bloody love being a Stepmum. All the bad stuff that comes with it is hard and difficult to manage at times but there are moments of sheer joy and, without sounding tripe, really rewarding. To make a positive impact on a little person life, to help him get through tough times and to see how he grows as a person amazes me.

  • My other half being a Dad and watching him go through all that he has for his son has been heart-wrenching at times. Feeling powerless to affect the things he goes through as a parent is odd for someone who likes to fix things. His ability to see through the shit and focus on what’s best for his son is brilliant. He does it time and time again. I have so much respect for him as a Dad and a person. His tolerance, patience (at times!) and keeping calm in a crisis is spot on. I love him for it.

  • I did not expect to be asking myself on a daily basis ‘Is this normal?!’. 

  • All in all it’s a rollercoaster. Through Support Our Stepmums I’ve realised very quickly that a lot of Stepmums feel like this and the first step to helping to fix it is realising you’re not alone. Finding the balance, like any family life I’m sure, is tough. I want to help quash the guilt of admitting you’re struggling as a Stepmum for fear people will judge you or think it’s because you don’t want to be a Stepmum. A lot of us just want to understand why we feel like we’re losing our minds and how we resolve it to be part of a successfully blended family.

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