Do you know what really bugs me? Almost every fairytale includes a wicked step mother. A woman who 9 times out of 10 is trying to bump off the princess for their own personal gain. A woman who in true Disney fashion is 1. Dressed head to toe in black 2. Truly ugly (looks and personality) 3. Is scary as hell and 4. Only marries the king to become queen, and is subliminally questioned for the kings mysterious death. She’s usually a boss at black magic too.
Now I obviously wasn’t around back in the days where “step” parents were unheard of, but if Disney’s reading this can we please, for the sake of little girls and boys today, can we create stories where step mums and dads are helpful, loving and caring and care for these children as if they’re their own.
Just to prove my point here’s a link to take you to the top 10 Disney films who give step mums a bad name!
That being said, obviously they ARE all fairytales. And the majority of us step parents are actually just trying to find our roles in these blended families and only have the children’s best interests at heart. I think if you ask any of us if it’s always been easy you’ll get the same answer, that answer being a strong NO. But in my 10th year I’d like to think I found my feet by the 4th ish year! Yes you read that right, I have bad news for step mums just starting out. It took us a really long time to find our feet, find my role, feel comfortable and not feel like I was stepping on toes all the time. Ill tell you why i think it took me around 4 years to feel confident in our situation, the first 1 or 2 years it takes the biological parents to find their feet. Regardless of whether they get on, hate each other, have little to no contact or speak daily, its still very new and a lot of emotions flying around for them. Once that’s settled, then you can get a feel of your role as a ‘step’. I feel confident enough to say I have always been hands-on and involved. Some parents reading this may disagree with my opinion but i felt i had to be involved because my step daughter was coming into my home i’d created with her dad. Sometimes i think my situation was a double edged sword because i was only 18 when i met her dad and he was almost 20. we were so young and nobody had a clue what any of us were supposed to be doing! I think because we were young we may have dodged some of the very serious feels and opinions of what people thought should of been happening at that time but on the other side of it we were all so immature and looking back on the first 3 years i cringe at arguments and conversations that really never needed to happen and probably wouldn’t have happened if we were all older.
Do you know to this day i still get questioned if my children have a relationship with their ‘half’ sister. Please note, this ‘half’ business really gets my goat and i hate it. Yes our children have a lovely relationship with each other even though surprise surprise their sister doesn’t live with us. If your a blended family as far as i’m concerned there’s none of this “half or step” they’re siblings and that’s that.
I’ve recently just watched the documentary Kate and Rio Ferdinand – becoming a step family and its really got me thinking. Even though their situation is based around loosing the children’s mum and how Kate slotted into that ready made family, took on the mothering role and all the issues that came with that, all blended families are actually in the same boat. regardless of the reason why or how they’ve become step families, all the problems are the same! whether your 2 parents coming together both with kids of your own, or a sole person (like Kate) coming into a family already with children and routines and a family home set up, we’re all still facing the same hurdles.
As a step mum i felt great pressure, more so after i had my own children. Even though i always have and always will include Millie in ‘my kids’ i felt on the outside i had to go above and beyond to prove that to other people. Being the one who always organised day trips and holidays and anything fun i would always include all the children. But i felt this need in the beginning to take loads of pictures to almost prove to people that she was here, she was included and she was with us as a family. I mean i have always been picture crazy, every photo i have is a memory for the kids and i’m glad i have so many of Millie when she was little because if she ever goes through my albums or my social media she’ll see there’s just as many of her as there is of my boys. Sometimes i wish i could go back and have a word with myself in Millie’s first couple of years of life, to tell myself to just enjoy being apart of it. To stop over thinking, stop competing with unrealistic demands and to stop worrying that i wasn’t doing enough with the resources that i had at that time. Guilt i think plays such a huge part in step parents lives because more often than not the road was so bumpy to begin with you forever think i should have done that better, or acted differently or just not played a part in that scenario and the truth is that could be right, but everything that’s happened in our journey got us through the other side so i don’t think now given the choice, id change anything. For a really long time i wasn’t sure if i was allowed to love her either, i knew i felt like she was just as much my child as she was her dads but for a while i was unsure of 1. how to show her and 2. will i upset people by saying these things out loud or making it common knowledge. There’s no right answer to these questions by the way but eventually i figured out that it was never about any of us, it was about Millie and her feelings and how she felt and if this little girl had one more person that loved and cared for her there’s no harm in that. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done alongside bringing my boys up but certainly the most rewarding, and I only hope and pray we continue to have such a great relationship in the years to come.
I’m so lucky, I do have such a good relationship with Millie, i genuinely love her as one of my own. And in the last 5 months making the decision to split from the kids dad has been incredibly difficult because i was so uncertain where that would leave my relationship with her. I’d worked so hard in the last 9 years to get here, for her to feel apart of my family as much as i felt apart of hers, to possibly be completely cut out from it over night. This is the part where it gets so murky. when your a biological parent you have rights to that child, when you’re a step parent you have nothing binding apart from what you’ve physically and mentally built with them. if the relationship with the parents is sour (which i’m sure in some cases are) when the step relationship breaks down they can simply say goodbye and never have anything to do with those children again, regardless of how big a part they played in their lives. In my case luckily that’s not happened, we text often, she comes for dinner, she’s recently had sleepovers and their dad and i are very much civil so have done things together with all the children such as spending Christmas together. Sometimes i feel like I’ve failed Millie because we’re no longer together and she now has to get used to daddy’s routine on his own with her brothers. I suppose i felt like i was the glue that held us all together, kept us all connected and made sure a good routine was in place, now that’s all different again. But what i’m trying to say is if the foundations are there and the relationships were strong enough they’ll carry on in a different way. recently i’d gone out for dinner and happened to be at the same place Millie was attending a birthday dinner. I’d noticed her a while before she noticed me but as soon as she did she told her friends “that’s my step mum over there”, and its little things like that that make this adulting BS worth it really. She sends me mothers day texts, every so often she will send me a text that ends with “love you” and i have every note shes ever written me, because these things that to someone else may seem minuscule, to me mean the whole world. She was the first kid i knew, she taught me things that prepared me for becoming a biological mother and she’ll always be one of my kids- so Mills if ever you decide to go through this blog and read all my posts that are probably boring as hell to you, know that everything written here i mean, all the posts on what we’ve done together I cherish and it was all worth it. The tears and the arguments over the years, the self doubt, and the need to prove myself. It was all worth it because i got you out of it and i wouldn’t change it for the world. Forever my girl gang when i’m surrounded by boys. love you for that.