I know my family situation is fairly rare. I’m her mom. I’m not a ‘real’ one (as I’m often reminded by thoughtless comments), but I’m her only one. So, I’m technically a stepmom, but not really. Not at all, in my own opinion. I’ve looked online for other moms in the same position – moms that do everything “mom” but are not the bio mom.
When I search for advice for stepmoms, it almost always includes the presence of the bio mom somewhere – balancing time with her, speaking about her respectfully, leaving discipline up to her, being a friend to the children rather than trying to fulfill a mom role etc… But, what about when there is no bio mom?
The closest I’ve gotten to reaching moms and parents with whom I can identify is under the umbrella of adoption. They didn’t give birth to the child, but they’re undoubtedly his or her parents. Phew, finally, people that get me.
Still, adoption is completely different too. Neither of the parents is biologically connected to the child. They’ve had him or her since a baby and the baby never knew anyone else as their mom or dad. They don’t have memories of a past parent or close ties to that family.
So, I’m reaching out to anyone in a similar position to me – moms or dads that are filling the entire role of a parent but aren’t actually biologically related to their child. Anyone?
In the meantime, I’ll share some lessons I’ve learnt along this very exciting road:
• Kids need parents, so they tend to adjust faster and easier than we expect.
• Every living thing on this planet responds positively to love. Even a plant. So, cover over the complications, emotions, and doubts with lots and lots of love and physical affection. My family is not a touchy one, so I’ve had to (seriously) learn a lot about letting a sweaty / sticky / ice-cold person into my bubble when she’s needed it most.
• Take time for yourself. All parents feel this kind of guilt about not spending enough time with their children. Parents in my position seem to feel even more of that because they’re also taking on the guilt of the child’s loss and we always feel like we should do more to win the child and the critics over. Just chill. Don’t lose yourself (and your mind) running on that treadmill of expectations.
• Don’t force feelings. Give everyone (including yourself) time to fit into this new family. There will be times when your child misses their bio parent, needs to talk about them or look at photos of them, and wishes they were around. You need to be the adult in these situations and not let any hurt or jealousy on your part take away from what the child is feeling. Fake it till it’s real.
• They appreciate you. Your spouse and his or her children really do love, need and appreciate you. Sometimes, when you find yourself whinging about the same empty toilet roll situation, you can feel unappreciated. Knowing that this is entirely normal in every, single family (regardless of genetics) will remind you that it doesn’t mean you’ve become a sort of Cinderella – a glorified maid. This is life. This is family. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.
On a side note, watch this mom and her toilet roll woes. I’m finished, too funny.