Eve Vawter writes:
I’m a stepmom. I’ve written about it before but I consider being a stepmom one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to me. Some of you other stepmoms out there aren’t so lucky, and for whatever reasons you have bio-moms who you just can’t get along with, and who just can’t get along with you. Being a stepmom can be amazingly difficult, especially when you don’t have the support of the bio-mom, much less the common courtesy she would afford a stranger – one who isn’t even expected to care for and love her child. So I’ve written a sort of handy dandy commandments list. Maybe if we spread it around enough some of these “difficult” bio-moms will get the hint.
1:We are not your nanny
We don’t mind taking our step-kids at the last minute or when you have to work or go out of town, but it would be nice in exchange if you would let us take them on days that are also important to us, even if it isn’t “our arranged custody time.”
2: We expect all the kids to follow the same rules
If we have strict rules about behaviors and bedtimes and manners and what is or isn’t allowed, we will not make exceptions for your child just because we don’t have them full-time. We don’t care if your special snowflake is allowed to throw blocks or swear or beat up the cat at your house, when they are at our house they are expected to follow our house rules.
3: We won’t speak poorly of you, we expect the same courtesy
It’s not productive, or healthy, and all it does is make your kid question that if we are slutty bitches who are horrible people why you would entrust them to us.
4: We will make mistakes
We will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. The only difference is you feel like you can judge us for every single mistake we make, like being ten minutes late for the school pick-up to not cutting off the bread crusts off your kid’s sandwiches. Think before criticizing us, because do you really like when someone makes you feel like garbage for a simple mistake?
5: We need to be kept informed
The kid is having trouble in school? Has started wetting the bed? Has head lice or strep throat or is now terrified of clowns? We need to know these things, so we can act accordingly.
6: You don’t have to like us, but please be cordial
You may dislike us intensely. But please, when you see us in public, try not to go out of your way to display it. You don’t have to greet us warmly but a simple nod and smile would suffice. Especially if the children are present.
7: We are not your ex-partner
I’m sorry your marriage or your partnership ended. It’s sad when this happens. But just because you have a pile of bad voodoo with your ex don’t make the mistake of thinking we are the same person as they are. Just because you share history with them and now they share history with us, that doesn’t mean that we are exactly like them.
8: You need to get over it
Your relationship ended. It probably ended badly. It may have ended due to infidelity, or any number of reasons. But you need to get over it, especially if more than a few years have passed. I’m pretty sure your life isn’t over. You can still find someone new and amazing who will make you incredibly happy, but not if all you do is sit around playing with your ex-husband voodoo doll. Don’t do it for their sake, or for their new partner’s sake, but do it for YOUR sake, because you deserve to be happy.
9: The kids are the MOST important thing
We all have baggage , and personal demons, and psychological voodoo, and hurt feelings, and we all get annoyed with each other on occasion, but despite all of this we need to always put the kids first. You won’t enjoy seeing me at your kid’s soccer game, but you will smile politely and act cordial for the sake of the kid. I won’t like the evil glares your relatives give me at high school graduations, but I won’t make a scene in front of our kid.
10: We will never be you
We will never try to take your place, or forget that you are the mom, because there is only one you. All we want is to share in the life of your kid as much as they want us to. We want the same things you do, for them to grow up healthy and happy and to make a difference in this world. We don’t want to replace you. You will always be their mom, we will always be the step-mom or bonus mom or extra mom. And we are totally okay with that.