My Surreal Life

My Musings, My Thoughts & My Ponderings

Letting Go of Guilt

I have an immense amount of Step-Mother guilt. It stems from my ideas of perfection, the role I should play, the role I can play and ultimately trying to define whats best for my family without breaking my mental strength.

There are days I wonder whether or not my husband would be better off without me, whether our BM would be more content, show him more respect and ultimately let him have the type of relationship he deserves to have with them.  I feel totally responsible for her behavior towards him. I feel that because I am nearly 10 years younger than him, and about 8 younger than her that see just sees me as this 20-something airhead with no life experience.  The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.  I do feel responsible irrespective of the reality of the situation. She was the cheat, she was the one that left and she was the one that ended things before I met my husband, i should feel the way I do.  Considering I’ve never met our BM I really don’t know how else i’m suppose to feel other than responsible.  As we have moved further down our marriage path, i have come to the reality that perhaps I am better off not having met her ever. There is obviously some grand plan that is keeping me from that because perhaps she has nothing to offer my me and my life.  Perhaps she is a toxic person. I have never expressed a desire in the initial stages to not meet her, however, now I never will unless she has some sort of a personality transformation.

One of my favorite TwitterStepMoms ‘Stepmom Problems‘ posted this today,

and I’m 100% agreeing with it, but I am spending my time trying to tell myself that this is applicable to me, it is tough trying to apply it to someone who I’ve never been able to make a decision on.  I feel to a certain extend that i’m giving her ‘Get out of Jail’ Card because perhaps I should as she is the BM.  I’ve never met her so why should I be able to judge her.

And I feel that I can judge her to an extent, because she has allowed me to spend 45% of the time with her children, to care for them, feed them, wash them, delice their hair and she has never met me. I don’t know who that speaks me about, me as a door mat or her not caring.

Perhaps she very closely relates to #7, without actually realizing the true value of my presence, her life would be a lot more complicated if I wasn’t around due to the type of job that my husband has.

“She perceives you as doing all the parenting while dad is ‘let off the hook’.”

I’m an old fashioned kind of gal and I do believe children thrive better in two parent families, however, I don’t believe they necessarily need to be the ‘First Family’.  Children thrive best in a situation where adults love each other, work together to create a happy home and have consistency in their approach to parenting. I believe that our society is heading down a dangerous path, woman are having children too young with men they aren’t married too and ultimately there has been a destruction of the functional family unit. I’ve seen it with my own extended family, and while I love them I don’t necessary believe that having children any age prior to 27 (at a minimum) is best.  There is a point where you do need to live you life, enjoy your men and be able to walk away.  Its a lot easier in my opinion to find a partner and have a mature discussion about the potential step-family dynamics if there is some real life experience behind you. Trying to have a mature approach to parenting and relationships while you are 22 with a young child isn’t realistic because there is still a lot of selfishness on the part of the new partner when they are young, they still believe in the ability to live their life and ‘date’ this new person with a child. Perhaps because of our age difference BM sees some of this in me. Or at least that’s the immediate opinion that she has because how could I potentially be any different when I met my Husband (he was 34, I was 24).

I came across an interesting article about StepMoms and Mental Health today, its dated from 2010, but it really was an eye-opening article. The quote below is a cross-section from the article but I accurately reflects my guilt.

“Stepmothers are expected to just accept everything without expressing themselves and are often told that they are evil and wicked if they do lose a grip every now and then. Being expected to please everyone without being able to express how you feel is an unrealistic and totally unfair expectation to place on ANYONE!  She can’t be expected to walk on eggshells, especially in her own home, just to pacify everyone else.  It will only leave her feeling totally isolated, resentful and depressed.  The stepmother needs support, too; support from her husband; support from her friends and family and support from society as a whole!  he stepmother receives less support and understanding than ANYONE in the stepfamily and that just has to change.  Everyone else is allowed to act out and freely express themselves without judgment, because society has more sympathy for them, and historically, stepmoms have been deemed as wicked. We sympathize with dad because he doesn’t get to see his children as often. We sympathize with the kids because they’ve just experienced the loss of their family. We sympathize with ex-wife because she is just trying to “protect” her children.  We then we dump all of those emotions, responsibility and aftermath of a divorce that she didn’t create, mind you, on the stepmother and say, “now you deal with it and you better do it all with a smile.  And we wonder why so many are just angry all the time.”

 There are times when I do feel like an absolute doormat, I doubt myself by wondering whether I’m doing too much, doing too little or am I truly setting a good example to the children in my home.  My Husband tries so hard to relax my fears, he supports me, we work together to parent, we are a joint unit in this house.  There is nothing being kept from me, i’m involved in legal appointments, in drafting letters to lawyers, text messages to BM and organizing school appointments for the children.  Perhaps I am doing to much, but i’m an organizer, that is my personality type, perhaps its a control thing as well. I feel a home works better when there is organisation and everyone is involved in making decisions since they will affect the whole home, and not just my husband and his children. I would safely say i’m definitely suffering from Super Stepmom Syndrome, its not something I say proudly but my desire to have a perfect marriage, home and relationship with all I come in to contact with is fueling my need to be the best Stepmom I can be.  Not a bad thing but perhaps it is a bad thing.  This is me and my inability to to be perfect is causing the guilt.

“Stepmothers feel the pressure and expectations from all angles; their husband, his kids, the ex-spouse and her kids as well (if she has any). As a result, some have a tendency to react to the emotional stresses within the stepfamily by becoming over-involved. It’s called the Super Stepmom Syndrome.  Stepmothers who suffer from Super Stepmom Syndrome step into the marriage trying to do it all. She wants  his kids to automatically love her; the ex-wife to be her best friend; her husband to realize what a fabulous mother she is to his kids and EVERYONE to be one big happy family. She wants to be involved in every single aspect of her husband and his kids’ lives. She doesn’t want to be left out of any decision, whether it directly affects her or not and she wants to be recognized for being the mother of the year; the one who is keeping the family together and at peace.”

There is a realization that I come to every so often, it makes me sick to my stomach but “I can’t control everything”.  I hate that feeling, I feel that if I can’t control it then it will go wrong, and then I’ll have to clean up the mess, so its better that I control from the outset.  In a stepfamily situation, the StepMom can never control anything, except her own personal reactions to every situation.  She is no matter how blended the outsider in that family at the end of the day, with few if any legal rights and responsibilities and no matter how involved you are behind closed doors that’s where it stays.

Society isn’t interested in StepMoms, there is such a stigma still there.  No matter what the reality, there is the ‘Wicked StepMom’ picture that is portrayed and most do believe that on the whole, we are the people that caused the breakdown of that persons previous relationship.  This is irrespective of the former couple and any problems they may have been having, when a relationship ends, both are at fault to some degree due to how they behaved and dealt with the ending of the relationship and the desire not to fight for what they had.

As I have no relationship with BM, it is really hard for me to put in to words why I feel guilt or how I feel guilt.  Trying to explain it to my husband is always tricky.  However, in the back of my mind I feel that she is always ‘smug’, she had him first, they had children together and had all these firsts that i’m just picking up where she left off.  That even though she is only an ex-girlfriend (common law wife, in her eyes) she will forever have her claws in him.  She has this power over me because his reactions will never be firsts with me, she has seen them all before.  Or at least that’s my perception, my husband assures me its not, but she seems to have taken on a more prominent place in my brain lately.

I have to try and let go of my guilt more, somehow, i don’t know how, but i need to find someway to balance, I am feeling very off balance of late, perhaps is the pregnancy hormones but I have felt so vulnerable of late in relation to my role as a StepMom, its hard to truly explain it to non-StepMoms. I think I need to engrave this mantra to mind

“Be a duck and let society’s expectations roll off your back like water.”

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