Newest Stepmom Mountain
Every once in awhile your step kids will say something that will cause your heart to break. Tonight was one of those nights.
When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first daughter instantly one of my biggest fears was that my stepson was going to feel left out. I had become so used to being either a family of three one day a week & every other weekend or having my husband all to myself all of the other days in between. Quite honestly, when my stepson wasn’t home it was essentially a glorified date night. He wasn’t really missing out on much. He was also very young and so I can say with almost 100% certainty that he didn’t care that he was missing us cooking food at home that he didn’t like or going to restaurants that he hated. But I always worried about what would happen when we had kids of our own who were with us all of the time including when he wasn’t home. Would we wait and plan every single activity for the days we were all together? Would we plan our time with extended family only on the weekends he was home? Would we celebrate Christmas on Christmas morning with the girls on our years without him or wait and do it all together? I have always wanted him to feel included and never, ever, even for one second feel like an outsider looking in but I also wanted life to continue on as normal for our girls, too. We couldn’t possibly wait and do everything on the two days a week or 26 weekends a year that we are all together.
Fast forward to tonight. We were having one of those fun parenting moments where we were explaining, yet again, why there are consequences when you don’t do what you are asked to do. If you know anything about 12 year olds it is that what could have been a quick conversation that easily led to us moving on for the evening instead turned into an attitude that led to even more consequences. Fun. These are the moments that I wish I could get through to them that it really doesn’t have to be this difficult. That conversation quickly led to my stepson saying to us, in tears, that sometimes he feels left out.
And just like that I felt like someone dropped the entire world on my stomach.
He proceeded to explain and his one example that he started with was how we told everyone else in the family that we were having a baby before him. Meanwhile I was still stuck frozen in time playing the words, “I feel left out,” over and over again while failing to keep my tears at bay. The one thing (finding out we were pregnant) that caused me to spend years worrying about him feeling left out is one of the reasons why he felt left out in the first place. Let that just sink in.
How do you explain to a 12 year old that the reason we told grandma and grandpa and his aunt and uncle before him was because we wanted to wait until the first trimester was over? That I was terrified something would go wrong and then we would have to tell him that something bad happened to his baby brother or sister? How do you try to get them to understand that when all they know is that they were the last to know? I think back to when we had our daughter and in the moment of being so excited and elated I had posted on Facebook that she was born but refused to post a picture until her brother met her. She was born in the middle of the night and we weren’t able to call him like we wanted right away. What I failed to realize is that by posting that on social media word had got to him before my husband and I were able to call and tell him in the morning so he really was the last to know. Oh, how I wish I could have done that over again. Major parent fail.
It is so hard. I thought blended family life was going to get easier as he got older but I feel like we are entering uncharted territory. How do you explain that the reason we wait to tell him things sometimes is because he isn’t home & we want to try and be respectful of his moms time? Is that even fair to him or just selfish on our part? He doesn’t care who is calling or texting him when he is at one house or the other. How do you explain that of course we always want him to be at everything but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and it is okay? Because in my heart I have come to terms with the fact that he isn’t going to be able to make every single family celebration. He won’t get to be at all of our girls events. He won’t get to be at every ice cream celebration over a good grade on a test, the last day of school, or when someone gets a promotion? And I really am okay with that because the common sense side of me says that when a child has two houses and two families that is unfortunately just the way it is. I get that. But it doesn’t mean that I like it.
My biggest struggle right now as he is getting older is how do you make it so that he feels like he doesn’t have two completely separate lives? He has his life with us and his life at his moms. We have routines and traditions here and he has routines and traditions there. He has our family and friends here and family and friends there. The only constant for him seems to be school. No matter what house he is at he is always going to be at school. I just don’t want him to feel like he has to have two completely separate lives. How do you do that without feeling like you are infringing on the other parent or that they are infringing on you? It is all about the step kids, right? Of course! But we are human. And humans get really protective of their kids. In blended family situations they get even more protective over the little time that they actually get with their kids. Maybe I just need to put my big girl panties on and realize that now that he is older in order for him to have his best life he needs to be able to make plans without worrying who’s house he is at. Seems like common sense, right?
All I know is that as soon as you think you’ve got this whole stepmom thing figured out something comes out of left field and you are faced with new challenges and mountains to climb. I think I am looking at my newest mountain. But it is definitely a mountain worth climbing because I never want him to feel left out. Ever.