The Self-Doubting Stepmom: Inside the November 2017 Issue

The Self-Doubting Stepmom: Feel More Confident and Less Confused By Mary T. Kelly, MA

You doubt, chide, question, worry and ruminate over what kind of person you are. It doesn’t help that those closest to you naively aid and abet your critical self-examination. Take, for example, the two voices inside your head. One is reasonably sane: “You’re not a terrible person. You’ve never been a terrible person. You’re a good, conscientious person who cares about others.”

The other one (that little devil who pokes you in the shoulder, when you least expect it) shouts: “You’re selfish! You’re not trying hard enough! You’re imagining all of this drama!

On top of it all, you’re just plain crazy! You’re a bad partner, a bad stepmom and you suck at this!”

If you have kids, too, motherhood may oddly enough make you feel even more inept. It seems so easy to love your own kids, even when they drive you nuts. So, what’s wrong? Why can’t you extend the same patience, love and understanding to his kids? If you’re childless (either by choice or by timing), you may chide yourself for not being more magnanimous.

Loving feelings toward his kids just aren’t coming your way. Whatever your situation, you threw yourself into this role which you believe should and must be fulfilling—that of being a stepmother. Surely that means you have to try to somehow “-mother” his kids, right? Cook. Drive. Help with homework. Do laundry. Attend their sporting events or school conferences.

You’ve done it all, picking up the slack despite any gnawing feelings, unanswered questions or growing resentment. You’ve soldiered on, all the while asking what you got yourself into. The kids have never seemed to care about your good efforts and your partner’s now taking you for granted because you’ve been doing what you “should” be all along.

Maybe you’ve gotten to a point where you wonder if you’ve made the worst decision of your life. You’re just not cut out for this whole “blended” family, Brady Bunch stepmom lifestyle. To add salt to the wound, your partner has latched onto the idea that—Yes!—you should be a sort of pseudo-mom to his kids. If it’s hard being around them, you’re the one not trying hard enough.

Could it be true? Have you not given it your all? Unsure, you question yourself. That little devil automatically chimes in with your default answer, “He’s right. I’m not trying hard enough.” If you were only a better person, stepmothering might not be so difficult. Friends and family are of little help: “You knew it was a package deal” is a phrase doled out like candy on Halloween.

Want the good news? There isn’t a damn thing wrong with you! I can prove it.

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