So don’t try to be.
And that’s fine, we don’t need to be told twice! This is not the 1950’s Women’s Good Housekeeping Guide – we do not need to ‘know our place’ we’ll do whatever we want thank you very much, and that includes not pretending to be a Mother to someone else’s little sprogs…
But in all seriousness, this hurts the biological Mother, she gave birth to them, raised them and nurtured them into the perfect children they are today – so who are you to swan in and attempt to ‘take her place’?
She and your now partner have separated/divorced and she can just about handle seeing him with someone else, but not pretending to be a Mother to her kids, she went through that with him, you didn’t, that’s their history. And do you know what – let them have it! ‘History’ is exactly that. Don’t dwell on it, don’t compare and for the love of God don’t feel threatened or jealous by it!
They’re not together anymore and there are real reasons for that which have nothing to do with you. Particularly if you are the second Wife. Wear that crown with pride! Your relationship is the future – and any man that can go through with marriage again after a painful divorce, clearly worships at your throne to the exclusion of all others.
So expect more seriously batshit crazy behaviour coming your way, if you even attempt to wear her Mothering crown! And quite right too…you’re not their Mother and have no desire to be, that is her privilege entirely.
Genuine attempts to form a relationship with the StepKids will (eventually!) reward you with something special in its own right however – a StepParent relationship that is working well is equally as untouchable in its own way. But fuck, it’s a hard journey!
Don’t ever undervalue just how difficult it is for you – please don’t beat yourself up and be gentle with yourself for making mistakes. The only way we learn anything in life is by making mistakes, falling over and getting back up again stronger than we were before.
Kindly repeat after me ‘the responsibility of the StepKids sit firmly with the biological parents. Not the StepParent. Not Me. Not ever’…and again, once more with feeling!
You are not their Mother. Therefore all picking up, dropping off, communication about arrangements, ultimate management of their every want, need and meltdown is for the natural parents to deal with – they decided to have children together, so they can handle the responsibility together.
Now, if as a StepParent you decide to help your partner, as most people in love would choose to do – then that’s great and everyone should be bloody grateful for that! Because it ain’t your job.
Furthermore, if you ever feel as though you are being taken for granted, by either your partner, the Ex or indeed the StepKids – just stop. Stop what you’re doing.
Let them get on with it all themselves for awhile and give yourself a break, they will soon realise how much you are helping out! And lets face it, we all take others for granted at times, it’s human nature, but there’s nothing wrong with reminding others occasionally of your worth if it’s becoming too much.
It’s also very easy for your partner to assume that you would automatically ‘replace’ the other parent and just pick up the slack left by the other, when you first get together – they may not even realise they’re doing it. It’s difficult in the early days to manage your new partners expectations of you, particularly without hurting their feelings. But be strong, throw on your crown and get him told.
You are not their Mother and it is not your responsibility, it is equally as important for your partner to understand this, talk openly about how you feel. Charming is excellent with this now (after many years of coaching!) he 100% recognises when I need a break and appreciates the reasons why, but we have only got to this point after some serious home truths and genuinely listening to each other.
Remember your partner and his Ex are also on a journey, they’re trying to work out their own new boundaries.
By being honest with each other and working as a true partnership, you will better be able to understand and support each other’s struggle. And my God, it is a struggle – many times I have had to remove myself from the toxicity of their drama to ensure my own well being isn’t affected, this does get easier as the years go on, but only the strongest survive this phase…
So be clear with everyone in terms of your own involvement, reassure them you’ll help, support and do the very best you can (this can be especially tough if you’re juggling your own kids together too) but if something else takes priority (like last minute dinner plans with a friend) do it, and don’t for a single second feel guilty. Chances are you’re already going above and beyond the call of duty for the StepKids and if your partner understands this principle properly, he’ll fully support you.
This rule can be tough, because some women (certainly not me!) can be a teeny tiny bit controlling. Ok, I lied! I struggle with this every day of my life, I’m a total control freak…
And you may worry about a variety of things if you’re encouraging your partner to take the lead with his Ex, it’s much easier to get involved yourself and he would quite happily let you. He really doesn’t want to communicate with her, but unfortunately he has to!
The reality is, if you genuinely trust each other, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. If you don’t, then that throws up bigger questions and maybe you should just get back on Tinder, fuck all this stress off and have some fun instead!
Essentially, step kids do not want you to act like their Mother, or a Friend or an Aunt. They don’t want you to ACT like anyone!
All you need to be is yourself, a kind, supportive grown up, who has clear personal boundaries.
That’s it, there’s no secret other than to be the lovely human you already are. And if they test your boundaries – let them know in no uncertain terms the reasons why, reinforce them time and again if you have to. Kids, like all people, will respect you in the long run for this.