My very best friend and I could not be more opposite. Roommates in college, she scheduled all her classes in the morning. I never had a class before noon. She has 3 brothers. I have 3 sisters. She grew up in a teeny tiny town. I spent much of my time in a big city.
Even now, she humbly gave up her career to be an incredible Mother. I am smack dab in the middle of taking my career to the next level, and can’t imagine having a baby.
As we’ve grown into the women we are today, I used to oftentimes feel myself jealous of her simple life. Her organic family. Her ability to raise her kids how she sees fit. There are no former spouses to try and co-parent peacefully with, or chaotic schedules to manage. She gets to snuggle her babies every night, and wake up every morning knowing she can run her family the way she sees fit.
Recently, my husband and I took a vacation. We were unable to take Stepdaughter with us, so to make the best of it, we pumped up the romance and enjoyed some white table cloth dinners. It was relaxing, rejuvenating, and a great escape from everyday life.
After catching up with my girlfriend, she exclaimed “You are so lucky! You have so much flexibility and freedom to travel with your husband…you are so lucky.”
Interesting, I thought. Me, lucky? I’m a Stepmom. Doesn’t she know I’m the villain of society?
Once I found my step in this whole Stepmom gig, I realized she was very right. I am lucky. It can be easy for stepparents to be blinded by the negatives in their life. The constant chaos, the bickering that can come with blending parents and children, and trying to see eye to eye with all involved. Many stepparents have expressed their disappointment in the way their life has turned out. If you’re feeling burnt out, I encourage to stop and smell the roses. I bet there are some four leaf clovers in your path.
I’m lucky because I have a husband who makes our marriage a priority. Many, many, many remarried spouses don’t do this. The kids come first. Always. This is a recipe for disaster, and an eventual second divorce. My husband carves out time just for us, whether our day has kids in it or not. He does not allow Stepdaughter to disrespect me, and he doesn’t allow me to disrespect her. He shows both me and her, that our union as husband and wife is sacred, as is her place in this family as his daughter. His relationship with his wife is equally important as his relationship with his daughter. And having a united, stable front as the parents in our household is the key to our happy, peaceful life. I am lucky that I am a second wife to someone that doesn’t treat me second best.
I am lucky that I have a family that supports my role as a Stepmom. I’m sure my parents didn’t dream of me stepping in as a Mother figure to a child that is not “mine.” I remember being terrified to tell them this deep, dark secret about the guy I was seeing. After I revealed that -gasp!- he had a daughter, they responded with “…and?” There was no hesitation to welcome both of them into our family, and their support of my decision to pursue a life with him never wavered.
I am lucky that my stepdaughter loves me. Many stepkids do not feel this way about their stepparents. Their hatred towards these adults that inserted themselves into their lives can be very real, and very strong. It can make a journey as a stepparent heartbreaking. I am lucky that my stepdaughter has kept her heart open to mine and squeezes me tight every night.
I am lucky that my successes and failures at being a Stepmom has led me down an incredible career path, and connected me with fellow stepmoms, stepdads, stepkids, therapists, lawyers, counselors…I have incredible people knocking on my door to connect with me. Everyone in today’s world knows someone touched by divorce. It’s been an incredible experience to hear about other’s trials and triumphs, and it has humbled me in the best way possible. Every stepfamily is different, and always evolving. I am lucky I have found people who just “get it.”
Am I lucky? I tend to think so. Is my best friend lucky? Absolutely. We are both very lucky, in very different ways. We’ve taken what life has handed us, and steered our families, one biological and one not, towards happiness. We both have our days of wondering if the grass is greener on each other’s side, but when all is said and done we are grateful for what we have. We are proud of who we are. We are both indefinitely and undeniably….lucky.