Hi there! I just wanted to pop in say what I think you’re doing is awesome and so selfless. I’m a stepmom, but our bio-mom is very much involved and so we have my stepkid quite often, but not full time by any means.
I think that step-parenting is one of THE HARDEST things I have ever, ever gone through. No two situations are exactly alike, no two sets of families are alike and it’s so hard to find situation that mirrors yours exactly. You’re thrown all kinds of curveballs such as visitation changes, aging stepkids, exes, old in-laws, NEW in-laws, in-laws that might favor the bio-mom, in-laws that may hate the bio-mom, stepkids that act out, step kids that latch on, step kids that vary between the two phases because they’re trying to figure all of this out, too… a SO that still has to interact with an ex– maybe they get along, maybe they don’t, maybe they didn’t and now they do and there’s all these weird facets of their relationship that you, the stepmom, have to accept as your reality.
Then layer in if *you* bring any children into the fold. If you do, you have to incorporate them into this new family and carve out your time and energy for them and your stepkids. If you come into it without bio kids, you’re automatically assumed to be ill-equipped for the role and never fully accepted as a stepMOM. Unless, of course, they do embrace you as such and now you’re being mom to a kid that at times you love, at times you dislike– maybe even at times you hate. This tiny being grows into a medium sized being that grows into a full blown adult and you’re supposed to unconditionally love, support, protect, finance, guide (but not too much) this person– but do so at arms length. OR maybe not at all at arms length, maybe it’s expected you’ll to do this 100%. Point is, everyone’s household is different. But the feelings are all the same: love, happiness, annoyance, jealousy, hurt, pride, protectiveness, anger, compassion.
It is a TOUGH role that each individual person has to try and navigate for themselves. So just know that there’s a lot of stepmoms out there, and we’re all trying to figure this role out as best we can. My advice is stay off of the far corners of the internet when it comes to looking for advice, because there’s some VERY hurt and jaded step-parents out there who paint a picture of total misery. It’s best to try and keep the focus on YOU and what YOU need in the family just as much as you’re focusing on the kid(s).
KIDS FIRST is one of the worst pieces of advice that “blended families” receive. You need to make sure you’re taking care of you, and that you and your SO are taking care of each other emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically alongside your care for the kid. Parents of bio-kids need a break all the time (and are encouraged to say/do so!), stepmoms deserve a break, too– and it is OK to vocalize that and not be painted as the bad guy and not feel guilty about it.