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Hi. My name is Stepmom. I mean Sarah. Let’s just say the two seem to get confused as my life continues to go from where I thought it would be, to where it is now. For me, the word stepmom conjures up so many different emotions and conflicting thoughts. Even writing it down on paper or saying it out loud to describe myself feels uncomfortable and distant.
It’s something I never imagined for my life. First off, being a stepmom means, there’s another mom. I can’t say it was ever in my plans to share my family with another woman. In fact, my plan was pretty simple and fairly common. I was going to enjoy my twenties, meet the love of my life, get married, have 2 or 3 kids, and live happily ever after. In that order, of course.
As is often the case, life had other plans for me. It all began when I met my now husband when we were both flying for the same airline. Pilot and flight attendant: pretty romantic (or cliché depending on your vantage point). I learned right away that he had two young sons and that did nothing to deter my enthusiasm. I always loved being around kids. This should be no different, right?
We were living in two different cities and would fly back and forth to see each other. After awhile I was introduced to the boys and we would play outside, hide and go seek, etc. I was super fun.
Things were progressing and before long we found out I was pregnant with our son. This immediately shifted everything into high gear. I moved in with the three amigos (my husband and his sons) and we were off to start our life together as a new family.
It was very overwhelming to say the least. I felt as if someone had pushed the fast forward button. In the span of less than two years I was a mom, stepmom, and wife, living in a new city and trying to get my bearings. My day-to-day life went from all about me to all about the boys and our family. Where most people have, at the very least 9 months to get used to that concept, I was an insta-mom seemingly overnight.
Being a new mom is challenging enough. I found that in addition to trying to figure out how to be a mother, I was struggling with the shift in my relationship with my stepsons. All of a sudden I was no longer the fun friend. I was the mother figure who was trying to establish house rules and everything else that comes with being a parent.
It’s one thing to decide with your partner how you want to raise your children. It is quite another to come in years down the road and step into an established parenting dynamic. There were many times when I felt like I was in over my head, as well as a bit of an outsider when it came to making decisions for the older boys.
Once we had our second child together, for a grand total of four kids, it became increasingly more difficult to find the balance with each child. I felt myself pulling further away from my stepsons.
I had, and still have a great amount of doubt and guilt surrounding my role as a stepmom. There is no rulebook and as I have found, it is not the easiest thing to find other people in a similar situation who can relate. This left me feeling alone and searching for some way to create a sense of normalcy and stability in a life that felt out of my control.
Each blended family, and nuclear family for that matter, looks different and has their own unique challenges. I am at a point in this journey, five years later, where I need to find a way to say goodbye to the life I thought I would have.
I do feel as though I have been fighting a losing battle to make my life fit into a certain box, but the truth is, it will never fit. The real question is: why is that a bad thing? My life looks different than my peers or my family, but it’s mine. I want to own the title of stepmom, because everyday I earn it when I continue to try and find ways to build a relationship with my stepsons and dispose of any negativity that may creep up along the way.
The truth is being a stepmom is only one part of my identity. Ultimately, it helps me to focus on the end goal. What have I always wanted? When I boil it down to the basics, I have always wanted a happy, loving family. Taking a step back, I can see that is exactly what I have.
Of course we have our struggles, and our bad days/weeks, but the root of our family is planted in love. I am excited to see what the future holds for us, even if it doesn’t look like anything I ever imagined.