Are you a Happy Step-mum?
Source: Negative Space
This article will not apply to everyone but is definitely food for thought. It offers a different outlook on an increasingly common way of life. Stepfamilies are currently the fastest growing family type in the UK, with current estimates suggesting that 1 in 10 of all families are now stepfamilies.
Being a stepmother can be one of the most challenging roles in society, and one that often receives little support, understanding, and appreciation from others. My partner has three children. I see them every other weekend and during that time I am expected to be a ‘Mother figure’ for that short period, stop my usual weekend activities as well as treat them as my own. It probably sounds harsh, of course, it is not the children’s fault. I can guarantee during the couple of days they are well cared for, played with and have a great time.
I guess what I am trying to say is, do other step mums go through the same pattern of behaviour that I do? For example, every other Friday the children will be at ‘home’ when I get back from work. As soon as I arrive I feel instantly angry, irritable and upset. I immediately go into what I refer to as ‘slave zone’ just continuously cleaning up after each child until they go to bed. Understandably, my partner is focused on the kids the whole time. Am I jealous? Maybe I am.
I would love my own child one day. Is that the problem? His children are not mine no matter how much he tries to achieve the ‘family unit.’ I see them as guests in the house which dictate what we do and stops me from enjoying my weekend. I will be honest I am not the most maternal sort of person but most people I am sure would find it hard to adapt to a ready-made family which I am to slot into. I bet you are thinking, ‘you knew what you were getting yourself into when you started your relationship.’ And the answer to that is ‘yes’ but as the years have passed I have recognised a recurrent psychological pattern of behaviour and would like to know if other step-mums go through the same sequence.
I have read numerous books on this topic; a particularly good read is How to be a Happy Step-Mum, by Lisa Doodson. When I read this book it highlighted to me, even more, the need for support and my own outlet. Don’t get me wrong I could definitely make more an effort but…I am not sure that I want to. Many resources suggest that my partner (in this case) will need to lower their expectations of what they expect ‘me’ to do and take part in. They will automatically assume I want this role when actually he and the children are the hurdles I have to jump. In my head, I am happy to disappear the weekend the children arrive and come back when they have gone…in my eyes that is a happy step-mum.
By Kate Ball