Ready to Quit? Read This First: Inside the October 2018 Issue

Being a StepmomBeing a Stepmom Is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done!
Ready to Quit? Read This First!
BY MARY T. KELLY, MA

This message is for those of you who have had it. You’re exhausted, you’re hurt, you’re angry and you are so close to calling your marriage quits and don’t know where else to turn. The first thing that comes out of your mouth is, “I had no idea it would be like this.” You’ve been working at it for what seems to be a ridiculously long time and you’re over it. Done. Stick me with a fork kind of stuff.

You had good intentions. You loved the man with whom you chose to partner. You gladly accepted the responsibilities that you thought went along with the title stepmother. The two of you entered as a team, hand in hand, vowing that your family would be merging, that you would love his kids and that if you had any they would love him. You thought to yourself that surely any child could use more people in their lives to love them, and you felt ready for the task.

You jumped in head first with resolve and enthusiasm. You were more than capable of doing this. You helped your partner with his children. You drove them to their soccer games, picked them up from school, washed their clothes and made numerous attempts to connect with them so they would know that you cared.

You took the role of stepmother seriously. It had the word mother in it, after all, so surely that’s what it meant, despite that you were childless. Your heart and efforts were continual and wholehearted.

And then reality set in. Let’s be honest. Reality can be a bitch.

Weeks, months, even years later, it dawned on you that you could no longer see the forest through the trees. You felt swallowed up by the continual intrusion of the ex, the resentment and disrespect of your partner’s kids and your partner’s seemingly permissive and casual nature. You felt unheard and disrespected when he chose his children over you, time after time after time. And you began to wonder what the hell you were doing with your life. You lost connection with you.

So, you hit a wall and began to think about leaving. You had made a mistake gargantuan in nature. Yes, you loved the man. That’s what seduced you into the whole crazy system in the first place. You dated, you were lovers, you were connected and he was your soul mate. But then you found yourself having a hard time even looking at him. The thought of knowing his children were on their way over made your heart race and prompted the desire to want to run and escape for parts unknown.

Your friends and relatives who weren’t part of a stepfamily system were of no help. “You knew it was a package deal when you married him,” they would say with such casualness and dismissiveness you had to fight the urge to not reach across the table and strangle them.

And you felt guilty and full of shame: “What kind of horrible person am I? I don’t even like his kids, let alone love them!” And the judgment voices inside your head got louder and louder as they screamed, “What kind of a selfish person are you?”

Sound familiar? Yes, I know, it sounds more than familiar. And let me be the first or the 10th (or the 1000th) person to tell you, no, you are not a horrible person. You are normal.

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