Step Monster

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I am so tired. Emotionally. I do not want to get out of bed because I’m not sure I have the energy to be a step mom today. I feel like every few months I’m at my wits end, sobbing in the bathroom into a glass of wine, resisting the urge to call my own step mother, and best friend to tell her I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how she managed, how in the hell she didn’t run away. I think, actually at one point she did run away. I don’t blame her. I can’t say whether it was harder for her to not have her own children, it was definitely a piece that was missing, but maybe it was a blessing for my sister and I? We needed all of her heart.

When I came into this relationship I already had my daughter, and my husband had a daughter and a son. I liked his kids immediately, and they liked me. I was thrilled to become a step mom, having been raised by one, I felt like maybe it was preparation for my future as a step mom. Not everyone is lucky enough to be raised by a step parent that they actually look up to. (It certainly wasn’t always like this, there were times that I think we hated each other, and years that I made her life miserable.) It didn’t occur to me that my life would turn into a fight. A constant fight for the impossible. I had been a stay at home mom, an attachment parenting mom. I was and am deeply connected to my daughter. I had not thought a whole lot about how I would parent her as she grew up, because I was taking it one day at a time. (When she was three I was convinced she was possessed, turns out she was just three… But I spent hours on the phone and the internet trying to figure out what to do.) Suddenly I had a 7 year old and a 5 year old, and my 3 three year old. I figured I would keep doing what I was doing, I tried to fit into their life as best I could, but there really was no place for me. The family was so used to taking care of each other that I was only really needed as a babysitter. Feeling like a fish out of water I began to make small changes in our household, there had to be a way to make us a family. Initially it was health. I threw out all the packaged, boxed and canned food and worked tirelessly on changing their diet. I wasn’t comfortable feeding my child TV dinners, and I thought it was the loving thing to nourish my new family. Well, that backfired. I ended up becoming the enemy of the in-laws and extended family. Instead of backing me up, they decided to lie, and sneak around, teaching my kids that I do not deserve respect.

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That was 3 years ago, since then we have had similar struggles, and they seem to be worse and more frequent. Between encouraging my kids to lie to me and my husband, and actually lying to us, it’s impossible. My husband is so used to his family disrespecting each other that he doesn’t see the problem. Because he doesn’t see it, he thinks I overreact. He feels I should just let it go, because they will never change. I would do that if it didn’t directly effect the way his kids treat me.

You can see, my husband is generally more relaxed, he’s not a rule enforcer. The only time he really pushes it is dependent upon his mood, or what is necessary, like if we have to go and the kids are messing around, THEN the dad voice comes out and everyone scrambles. I prefer that the children are obedient and don’t require “dad voice”. I am aware that as parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our children and teach them to be decent human beings. (The jury for me is still out on The Lord of the Flies, but watching my step son, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hesitate to eat his friend.) It seems I worry endlessly about who these kids will be as adults and I am scared. Honestly scared. I see a child with no conscience. And I believe it’s our job (and I mean EVERY adult) to teach children empathy. We are not all born with the gift of empathy, and if you grow up in a household where it’s every man for himself… and that’s kind of the environment I see. The problem is, I seem to be the only immediate family who sees a problem and I go back and forth between just letting it be, and then being horrified and feeling a deep seeded need fix the problem.

I wonder if I didn’t have my own daughter, and actual horse in the race, maybe I would just let it go, be a babysitter, and let their lives be the way they were. The problem is that I have a little girl that I have high hopes for, I see so much promise in her, and I won’t cut comers on parenting. Not with my little girl. I have seen the products of “non parent parenting”, and I am not going to be responsible for that. The problem is, I have a hand in parenting my step children, so I will have responsibility to take. What am I gonna say? I’m sorry I fought with your dad so much and taught you that it’s OK to undermine your partner? I’m sorry I was so inconsistent? I’m sorry you think I favor my daughter– I wasn’t allowed to be your mom. I’m sorry I gave up on you….

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I don’t want to give up. I love these kids. And I love my husband. I want us to be a family, but I don’t see how we are going to get through this with out royally fucking these kids up. At some point something has got to give. I’m tired of fighting. But I feel a moral obligation to these awesome littles. I feel a deeper obligation to MY little.

I am blessed because my daughter has a wonderful step mom who has become my friend and sometimes my therapist. I have 100% support from my daughter’s father and his wife. It’s refreshingly healthy. I can’t see why I don’t have that from my husband’s family.

I know I’m not an expert parent, but my heart is in it, and I work my ass off trying to do right by my little family. Often times it’s the hardest thing to do. And way too many times it turns into a fight. Where is the balance? What battles do I pick? How can I make this work? I have fantasies that I take my daughter and we just live together, and I spend weekends with my husband and the kids… wouldn’t it be easier if I only saw them all occasionally, and didn’t have a responsibility to parent? I would miss them, but I think I would be much more relaxed. It’s a huge responsibility being a parent. I do not take it lightly… I do not want to abandon them. But I do want to run away sometimes. Like today.

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24 thoughts on “Step Monster”

  1. Forward this to your step mom. Maybe her having gone thru this can give you strength in the light at the end of the tunnel. Xo

  2. Your sis sent me a link to your blog, I have known her for a long time 🙂 I can’t tell you how much I relate. This was so beautiful and raw. Thank you for putting it out there. I am a mom to 2 littles, and I had a step parent growing up. I think one of the hardest thing in the world- yes I said in the world, is to love and parent someone else’s child. I have friends who do it, and they are not perfect at it either. Sounds like you have the answer: pick your battles. We can’t always control what they do or what they eat outside of our home, I am a food nazi too, so I get it. All we can hope is that we instill our values and beliefs about healthy eating habits and pray the seed was at least planted. My husband and I are in therapy for the last year and a half. And it’s helping. Maybe that will help? Hang in there you are doing an awesome job.
    Hugs, Misty

    1. Misty, I have been meaning to respond for ages! I’m sorry, I read this the day before my grandpa’s funeral, and then I forgot! Thank you. I would go to therapy (gladly!) but husband is anti therapy, because, you know, he’s perfect. I’m working on the picking battles… why is it so hard!

  3. Wow…as a step mom to 3 and 1 little of my own (the littlest of the bunch by 4 years) I often fantasize about running away

  4. i am also a stepmom (stepdaughter 9, son 6, & daughter 2) & I didn’t have one growing up or barely even understood what they were or that they existed until I was an adult. I knew Cinderella & Snow White had evil stepmothers but I didn’t know why they were called that! Lol anyways I definitely feel like running away sometimes, so it’s nice to know someone else out there in the world knows how I feel.

  5. I think it is so normal to have these feelings, no matter what your situation. I know I have from time to time. I think these things have a way of working themselves out in the end. Push, but not so hard that you have no energy left. Keep fighting, but not so much that you start a war. It is all a balancing act. Also, definitely take a little time for yourself every now and then. I really hope things work out.

    Also, as much as it sounds like you are stressed out from this situation, I have to say I am so jealous that you have a good relationship with your ex and his wife. Not many people can say that. You are lucky to have them and their support and you are lucky to have your step mom as well ♥

    1. I am soooooo blessed to have a good relationship with my ex and his wife, I feel grateful daily. I know it’s rare and I do not take it lightly.
      As far as these feelings being normal, I hope so. I feel awful way more than I feel good. It’s exhausting and I do need to learn to pick my battles. If only it was a simple thing to do.

  6. Wow, I feel as if you’re telling my life story. It’s a relief to know someone else walks in my shoes. It doesn’t solve what we have to accomplish. But I can relate & wish we were neighbors we could run to each other when needed! Hang in there!

  7. I can relate…not so much with the players (in-laws or extended family) but the dynamics of the situation. I too was raised in a blended family with an amazing mother (non-biological). We had no “steps” in our family. I’ve tried to emulate her within my own experience, but with no avail. Different players, different settings. No two blended families are alike. I never in my 49 years on this earth have I witness evil like I have since becoming a step mother 5 years ago. Its a good thing I love my husband, our children and our family as much as I do or I may have walked out years ago. This job is ever changing, but with time, it does get easier. You become educated and experienced in fighting (what I like to call) “gorilla warfare with gorilla warfare”. There is only so much you can control and do as a Step Mother, the rest is on the bio-parents on how these children grow up and what they become. We want to fix everything, but we can’t. We can only do so much. Just know you are not alone.

  8. Wow. Okay. First I think you need to seriously realize something here honey. In case you didn’t know this, you are NOT the only one who feels like this!!!!! I have my own step parenting challenges, a little different, but I can understand where you are coming from. I loved your blog post here, and now I’m off to find you on Facebook, and subscribe and maybe even send you a bouquet of daisies. J/k about the flowers. I’m broke as a joke.

    1. You’re so sweet, thank you. In my world, I am the only one…. If I had known more people felt like me, I would have reached out ages ago! And My FB page isn’t all fitness, it’s just mom stuff, and whatever I care about at the time, I guess.

  9. Oh my gosh. I just clicked on something on here. It led me to your page. It involves running. Do you mean like running for exercise? Cuz now I’m scared to follow you because I can’t run nor do I want to.

  10. If I could put my heart and words into a blog, this would be them. I myself have a daughter of my own. A few times a month I feel this way. I get down on myself because I’m the only hope my boyfriends kids have at having a structured upbringing. I came from a non-structured home of a single mother who worked her toosh off to provide for my sister and I. I know how important it is to have discipline for a child. Sometimes I want to run away, sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs. Then the moment the girls (he has 3- 2 girls and a boy) turn to me for a motherly hand, or motherly advice, or his son hugs me or calls me mom.. the moments when I know why I am where I am, it becomes ever-so clear that God brought me into their lives for a reason. Even if their step-mother is unbearably worthless, but tries to play MOTY, I know my place in their heart and their lives. They will appreciate everything you do someday, I promise. Don’t give up<3

  11. Being a step mom to a 7yo along with my 10yo 7yo and 5yo, I wonder if it would be easier to leave. And I have ran. But regardless we are a family. My kids view their step dad as “dad” since he is. But my ss sees me as “Steph” bc his mother is in the picture even though he lives with us. But those moments he disrepects me makes it harder. There are Times my husband stands up for me but sometimes I feel on my own like a battle. Now I k ow I’m not alone. Thanks!

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