Blended Families

New stepmom, need advice.

First post on thebump, I am a newlywed to a wonderful man! Little bit of a background- DH is 30, and I am 24. His DDs are 8 and 5, from a previous 'shotgun wedding' marriage, BM cheated multiple times among other things, and she is the one who filed for divorce. I am feeling some emotions for a couple reasons... 

 1) This may be completely irrational but I can't stand the XW/BM and I don't know if this is normal to feel. Just knowing what she did to DH makes me angry inside. They maintain contact for the few times a year he gets to see the kids (he's in the military) but I don't even want to see her during the drop-off/pick-up, I become very anxious and nervous feeling as if I could go off on her at any minute. I am NOT the confrontational type but something about her annoys the heck out of me. She's way too cheerful and friendly any time I've seen her to the point of almost being creepy, she has even messaged me on facebook asking to be friends, but I don't want that type of relationship with her. Is that wrong? I know if it wasn't for the kids DH would never speak to her again. 

 2) I don't have any children of my own, and I know I will never be "their real mom" or anything like that, they have a mother and I don't want to step on any toes, but what is a stepmom supposed to feel like? I obviously care for the children, I have bathed and dressed and fed them, they have even told me they loved me, but I don't feel like a "mom."  I feel like I am visiting my little cousins/babysitting his kids. I feel guilty but I have not said I love you back to them yet. I'm just not ready. I usually respond with a hug and "Oh, you are such a sweet girl" etc. Did anyone else feel like this at first too?

 

 

Edited- I apologize for the lack of proper punctuation but I really just had to get that all out. Also I don't know why the second paragraph is larger than the other. It looks like I've never used the internet before. lol 

Re: New stepmom, need advice.

  • Welcome!! First of all don't be so hard on yourself. Feelings take time to grow with kids, especially if you do not have them all the time. It sounds like you do love your step kids, whether you can say the words to them or not, if they are telling you they Love you then they feel it. Also don't worry about BM, most of us don't like our BMs. It is hard to even be polite to a person that has hurt you DH so much, and in my case hurts the children so much. Just don't let your anger at her eat you up inside. Learn to let it go, but don't be friends with her it usually does not end well. Good luck and hang on tight it's a wild ride!
  • It took me almost 3 years to get over the anxiousness of BM. I was the same exact way as you. As for the kids, it will be better soon. Just keep up what you're doing and make sure they are comfortable around you. My step daughters call me mom but I've been around since they were babies, they don't remember a time before me. It was difficult at first but you obviously love their father and love them also. It takes time to build relationships.
  • I was 26 when I met my SD who was 11. Sony things that I promise are not meant as rude but true in almost all situations so please take this for what it's worth as genuine advice. It is great you admit your faults and are asking for advice. This board is awesome althought very blunt.

    All people are insecure especially about the women that our men have married and had kids with. At 24 I think it is even harder because most other people your age are not dealin with the same things. Is this reaction common yes but it is not ok. Remember you only know one side of the story unless she has told you that he was perfect and she was a total slut. Take your DHs comments at face value but remember if she told the story her truth would be different. If she is nice to you then suck it up and be nice back. You can friend her on FB and restrict her so she cannot see anything. Assume that she made mistakes in her relationship with your DH but that does not make her a horrible person it just makes her flawed. I am not saying be friends but if you cannot be trusted to be polite to your step kids Mom then you have a huge issue to work on and should not have gotten married.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • A few things:

    1) It's awful that BM cheated on DH several times. It sounds like they just weren't meant to be, and that's okay. Should BM have filed for divorce and separated from DH before having a relationship with another man? Definitely. Basically I'm trying to say you should move past DH's first marriage.

    2) You say that BM is cheerful and friendly. Do you know how lucky you are? She could be a BSC b!tch, and let me tell you, and overly cheerful and friendly BM is a million times better than a BSC one. You need to get over the 'wanting to go off on her' feeling. I do think being FB friends is inappropriate though, and you definitely shouldn't feel the need to do so. Even though DH and BM would never speak again if they didn't have kids, the reality is that they do, and that they will have to co-parent together.

    3) (My background: BD & I have a 4.5 yo DS and DH & I have a 7 mo DD. BD gets DS EOWE.) If BD were to marry a woman who refused to ever be present at p/u or d/o and basically hid from me, I would think she was a ridiculous coward and have the 'get over it' feeling. When I did see her I would be friendly - what's the point of not being friendly? And if DS had a SM who couldn't even say "I love you too" to my DS, I would think she was a witch. Your SKs are 8 & 5 - old enough to recognize that you don't say "I love you" back. That's so sad. Could you at least fake it for them?? You knew that when you married DH that his two wonderful kids were part of the package.

    Of course, I only know what you shared. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here. 

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  • image twister22:

    A few things:

    1) It's awful that BM cheated on DH several times. It sounds like they just weren't meant to be, and that's okay. Should BM have filed for divorce and separated from DH before having a relationship with another man? Definitely. Basically I'm trying to say you should move past DH's first marriage.

    2) You say that BM is cheerful and friendly. Do you know how lucky you are? She could be a BSC b!tch, and let me tell you, and overly cheerful and friendly BM is a million times better than a BSC one. You need to get over the 'wanting to go off on her' feeling. I do think being FB friends is inappropriate though, and you definitely shouldn't feel the need to do so. Even though DH and BM would never speak again if they didn't have kids, the reality is that they do, and that they will have to co-parent together.

    3) (My background: BD & I have a 4.5 yo DS and DH & I have a 7 mo DD. BD gets DS EOWE.) If BD were to marry a woman who refused to ever be present at p/u or d/o and basically hid from me, I would think she was a ridiculous coward and have the 'get over it' feeling. When I did see her I would be friendly - what's the point of not being friendly? And if DS had a SM who couldn't even say "I love you too" to my DS, I would think she was a witch. Your SKs are 8 & 5 - old enough to recognize that you don't say "I love you" back. That's so sad. Could you at least fake it for them?? You knew that when you married DH that his two wonderful kids were part of the package.

    Of course, I only know what you shared. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here. 

    All of this, take it from someone who has to deal with a BM who wishes I would drop dead, a friendly BM is something to hope for. Also my DH would never have married me until he was sure I loved his child.

    imageNo one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.
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  • I was in almost the same boat. DH was in the Navy, she cheated but he initiated the divorce. I was 19 when I met him and he was 24 so I was pretty young as well.

    I would find a way to let go of your anger towards BM. It doesn't serve a purpose and think of it this way, it resulted in you meeting your DH right? Its fine if you don't feel comfortable friending her on Facebook or keeping your distance but I would definitely be polite like you would be to a stranger. It is so much easier to deal with a BF situation when you aren't all fighting. Less stress on the kids and less stress on you. We have been through both phases and its SO much easier.

    Give yourself time with the kids. Its notinstant by any meand. We are long distance so we don't see SDs most of the year and then I'm a step mom for the summer. With a schedule like that, it was hard to build that love because they would leave right when we were getting used to each other. I have beenwith DH for almost 10 years now, SDs are 10 and 12 and I love them like my own but it took time.

    Welcome to the board!
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  • In the past, a frequent term used on this board was "fake it until you make it." And sometimes that is what has to happen with the kids until you genuinely feel that way. Make sure you put forth effort to spend alone time with the kids and that will help alot.

    You do have to let go of what happened in their marriage. I am in the same boat as you with having a BM who cheated and is now actually married to the guy she was caught with. But had that not happened, DH and I wouldn't be where we are today so you just have to remind yourself that in the end it doesn't matter.

    DD(14),SD(13),SS(11),SS(9),DS(3)

  • I get the whole issue of being upset that someone hurt your DH or treated him poorly. But like the PP said, if that hadn't have happened your DH wouldn't be the man he is today and you wouldn't be with him. My SS's BM cheated on DH, got pregnant and didn't know who the father was, but told DH it was his. He married her trying to do the right thing and didn't find out until much later that the baby might be someone else's, at which point he was already stuck married to her and on the birth certificate. People do really awful things to each other and you can't obsess about the past, or worry about how could someone have behaved so terribly. It happens all the time and you have to get over it. I dislike BM immensely as I think she I a terrible human being for the things she has done. However, I've never been anything but polite to her. Why? Because my SS will learn more by my actions then anything else. One day he will know that it wasn't easy for his mom and I to get along, but he will know we did it for him, and that we love him enough to try. Being an adult means doing things you don't want to or being uncomfortable sometimes for the sake of the people you love.

    As for the not saying 'I love you' to the kids. I think that is completely wrong. I understand not saying it to a grown up if you don't feel it, but kids feel wholeheartedly and don't understand the nuances of love. If a child, even a kid I just met, said I love you, I would say it back. It is a great gift to get that sentiment from a child and shouldn't be withheld. I am not saying you have to feel instant love for them, but sometimes you have to fake it til you make it. It would be different if you were just dating, but you are married and in it for the long haul. You need to find a way to deal wih these feelings. It's not easy and I sympathize with you because I had a lot of them too. It took a lot of soul searching and growing to get over it.
    "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." ~ Lao Tzu
  • image fellesferie:
    You've gotten good advice.I am not a stepmom just a biological mom, so take my .02 for what they're worth, but I would urge you to say 'I love you' to your stepkids when they say it to you. You certainly don't have to initiate the exchange, but you don't want to risk them feeling rejected. nbsp;


    I agree with this too.
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    image Lavender P:
    As for the not saying 'I love you' to the kids. I think that is completely wrong. I understand not saying it to a grown up if you don't feel it, but kids feel wholeheartedly and don't understand the nuances of love. If a child, even a kid I just met, said I love you, I would say it back. It is a great gift to get that sentiment from a child and shouldn't be withheld. I am not saying you have to feel instant love for them, but sometimes you have to fake it til you make it.

    I agree with this 100%.  I think this is a case where you fake it until you make it.  I say ILU to the kids I teach in Sunday school when they say they love me...and I have spent max 22 hours with them.

    As for BM - - look at the whole situation.  They got married "because they had to," "for the child," and probably weren't suited for each other.  While I would not be close friends with a cheater because those are not my values, I realize that not everything is as it seems.  I am sure that your DH at 22 (when oldest SD was born) was neither husband of the year or father of the year.  22 year old men rarely are.  It is just as easy (for example, knowing nothing of your DH's marriage) to "check out" of a marriage or parenthood by working a lot or spending time "with the guys" as it is by cheating.  Neither is the right thing to do. Maybe she is so friendly because she feels guilty about her past.  You just don't know.  Her past issues with DH should remain their issues, not yours, unless she tries to get him back.

    I would not be FB friends with my dh's ex because that is a little too wierd for me, but if you refuse to meet her you look really immature. Quite frankly, if someone that I was always nice and friendly to refused to meet me I would assume they were immature, a drama queen and probably jealous of my past with their H. 

    I think you stepped into a VERY difficult situation - one I could not have handled at age 24, but you need to step up your game and act with class.  Count your lucky stars that BM divorced H and allowed him to be free to marry you!  And also be happy that you have a friendly, nice bm instead of a witch who tells her girls to hate you.  The fact that the girls are so loving and sweet to you means she is doing something right.

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  •  1) telling BM how you feel will not change anything. Trust me. We recieved a letter from BM's attorney about how he felt the need to call CPS on us becuase BM stated our home was not domesticly trainquile (SP?). When we recieved the letter, I called BM and let her have it, not as DH's wife, but mother to mother because she was putting DS in danger of being taken from the home (or so I thought. I had never delt with CSP and thought the worse). She still to this day claims that she only did it to keep DH from her son, she knew that DH was a good father to DS, but wants her BF to be daddy to SS. We are still in the same boat with a crazy BM (ya, I did have a crazy moment too, but I was to the breaking point after BM accused me of letting SS watch ted when it haddnt came out on DVD yet, and she knew I was a bad person). CPS came into both homes, and guess what!? My home was just fine for both boys, she ended up having 30 days to clean up her home for a second inspection.

     2)My situation was different. BM insisted on SS calling me Momma ND because she made ss call her BF Daddy S. This made me feel awkward, because I was not ready for this, but after a year or 2 he now calls his mom by her name and me mommy (unless he is in one of his moods, then i'm ND). It was not instant, but within a few months, I fell in love with SS and all his issues. SS is just as important to me as a part of our family as DH and DS.

  • Here's my opinion as a BM and a SM (yes, I get to wear both hats)...

    1.  Let go of whatever anger/resentment/jealousy/intimidation you feel towards BM.  Unless and until she actually does something to you personally, DH and BM's past is over and done with and there's nothing for you to be upset about.  Getting upset about something you were never a part of is going to drive you nuts.  BM is friendly towards you for 1 of 3 reasons: 1. She is completely over DH and is happy in her life and has moved on; 2. She's pretending to be friendly for the sake of the kids; or 3. she's pretending to be friendly so that she can tell everyone that you're the problem, not her.  Regardless of the reason she's being friendly, just be glad she isn't being a total pain.  BM in my situation sent me a friend request on FB at first and I never responded to it.  You don't have to be FB friends, and it might preserve your sanity later on to not be FB friends.  You don't have to be friends with BM IRL either.  You just need to be civil, polite and cordial.  Your SKs will pick up on any bitterness you have towards BM, so keep it in check.

    2.  When DH and I got engaged, K was 4 1/2, DD was almost 7 and DS was almost 11.  Age has a lot to do with how you feel towards your Skids.  At least I believe it does.  Being in K's life since before she was 2 made me a part of a lot of things: potty-training, riding her first bike, learning to read, etc.  DS and DD had already accomplished all those "firsts" and DH wasn't a part of most of the milestones.  While I completely feel the same towards K as I do my own children, DH has said that his affection towards my kids is more like how he feels towards his niece and nephew.  DH loves my kids, but it's not the same "love" as he feels towards K.  He's still protective as hell of DS and DD, but the attachment is different.  When you're skids say they love you, say it back.  As Gin said, "fake it till you make it".  They are in a sticky spot too, and they are trying to figure out how to navigate through all of this as well.

    Good luck and hope to see you post more  :) 

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  • Thank you to all!!! Honestly, I haven't skipped an encounter with BM yet, I met her over a year ago, but it makes me feel so uncomfortable that I was considering avoiding it. It never occurred to me that it would seem cowardly but now I can see that side of it. I really do think she is being overly nice for attention, the week after DH and I got married she friend requested his brother, sister, and dad (and me) on FB all with the same message "I post a lot of pics of the girls." (They told us, and she sent me the same thing) DH tells me that after his sister had children, BM got jealous and thought the new babies would steal attention away from their DDs. Sooooo there's that. I think she's overcompensating for her past, but I will definitely learn to let that go. I have to keep telling myself DH actually proposed to ME! He never proposed to her.

     

    I read your replies all day today but just logged on now to reply. And in fact, just today I did tell SDs that I loved them (it came naturally). We have them with us this week and DH has to work during the day, so we were able to spend the entire day together, definitely some much needed quality time. It is the age difference that makes me feel a bit uneasy, if I do the math- I would have had my first SD when I was 16. It's crazy to me to think about that now I am an "insta-parent" of an 8 year old, but no offense to any teen moms out there.

     -----

    This is a whole other story but BM left DH for a woman, and she does insist SDs call her current GF "stepmom".... BM and GF's relationship is none of my business, but to SDs I am "SM #2", though they do mostly call me by my first name. SDs have told me "but my REAL SM does it this way" etc etc. and I am stuck on whether to say, "but I am your SM (too)", ? or not.  Like I've already said I think my age/lack of parenting experience is a factor in this, and thus why I am reaching out and posting my insecurities for you all to help me work through. Your posts really did help a lot. I have no friends in this same situation as you can tell. 

  • image jobalchak:

     While I completely feel the same towards K as I do my own children, DH has said that his affection towards my kids is more like how he feels towards his niece and nephew.  DH loves my kids, but it's not the same "love" as he feels towards K.  He's still protective as hell of DS and DD, but the attachment is different.  

     

    I'm just curious what your reaction was to your husband saying this? I have told DH that I don't feel like an "SM" yet but he knows it will take time. He mainly wants me to be a positive female role model in their lives, which I intend to be. All in all we will only get to see SDs a few times a year considering the distance.

  • image navygirl440:
    image jobalchak:

     While I completely feel the same towards K as I do my own children, DH has said that his affection towards my kids is more like how he feels towards his niece and nephew.  DH loves my kids, but it's not the same "love" as he feels towards K.  He's still protective as hell of DS and DD, but the attachment is different.  

     

    I'm just curious what your reaction was to your husband saying this? I have told DH that I don't feel like an "SM" yet but he knows it will take time. He mainly wants me to be a positive female role model in their lives, which I intend to be. All in all we will only get to see SDs a few times a year considering the distance.

    I was a little bothered, but after a few minutes of thinking I realized that it makes a lot of sense.  It's hard coming in and trying to parent children who already "know" who their parents are and have developed their routine with these parents.  Since I was a big part of K's early development I was able to form that parental bond with her early on, whereas my DH had to hear a lot of "well my dad does this" or "you're not my dad you can't tell me what to do".  K has never really resisted me reprimanding her or correcting her behavior.

    Again, DH loves my children and they know he loves them.  They have seen him fight like hell for them when things got bad with BM, they know he supports them in their activities and he helps with homework and projects.  But it's not the instant connection and "love" he feels towards K. 

    And as a BM, any kind of love felt by the SP towards my kiddos is welcomed. 

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  • image navygirl440:
    Thank you to all!!! Honestly, I haven't skipped an encounter with BM yet, I met her over a year ago, but it makes me feel so uncomfortable that I was considering avoiding it. It never occurred to me that it would seem cowardly but now I can see that side of it. I really do think she is being overly nice for attention, the week after DH and I got married she friend requested his brother, sister, and dad and me on FB all with the same message "I post a lot of pics of the girls." They told us, and she sent me the same thing DH tells me that after his sister had children, BM got jealous and thought the new babies would steal attention away from their DDs. Sooooo there's that. I think she's overcompensating for her past, but I will definitely learn to let that go. I have to keep telling myself DH actually proposed to ME! He never proposed to her.nbsp;I read your replies all day today but just logged on now to reply. And in fact, just today I did tell SDs that I loved them it came naturally. We have them with us this week and DH has to work during the day, so we were able to spend the entire day together, definitely some much needed quality time. It is the age difference that makes me feel a bit uneasy, if I do the math I would have had my first SD when I was 16. It's crazy to me to think about that now I am an "instaparent" of an 8 year old, but no offense to any teen moms out there.nbsp;This is a whole other story but BM left DH for a woman, and she does insist SDs call her current GF "stepmom".... BM and GF's relationship is none of my business, but to SDs I am "SM 2", though they do mostly call me by my first name. SDs have told me "but my REAL SM does it this way" etc etc. and I am stuck on whether to say, "but I am your SM too", ? or not. nbsp;Like I've already said I think my age/lack of parenting experience is a factor in this, and thus why I am reaching out and posting my insecurities for you all to help me work through. Your posts really did help a lot. I have no friends in this same situation as you can tell.nbsp;

    OMG my SD is 16 years younger than me and her mother is a lesbian too. Weird.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • To OP, in response to kids saying ''my REAL stepmom does...'' I would just say, ''well, I am not SusieQ, and our house we do this like such.'' It might ne a little more bothersome if your personal values disagree with the BM being a lesbian, but in all reality, I hear, ''Nana does this...'' from both my SD and my DS. It really is no different.

    Count your blessings. Take heed to the wonderful advice you have gotten here. I won't reiterate because so many have alreadu covered the bases.

    As a side note... my DH's first wife was a stripper, bisexual, and cheated on him with 37 known other partners, men and women. Do I hold it against her? No. Why would I? Her life affects me not a bit.

    BM, not the same woman, only affects me to the point of when her behavior and way of life become harmful to SD.

    Get what I'm saying?
  • image ambrvan:
    To OP, in response to kids saying ''my REAL stepmom does...'' I would just say, ''well, I am not SusieQ, and our house we do this like such.'' It might ne a little more bothersome if your personal values disagree with the BM being a lesbian, but in all reality, I hear, ''Nana does this...'' from both my SD and my DS. It really is no different. Count your blessings. Take heed to the wonderful advice you have gotten here. I won't reiterate because so many have alreadu covered the bases. As a side note... my DH's first wife was a stripper, bisexual, and cheated on him with 37 known other partners, men and women. Do I hold it against her? No. Why would I? Her life affects me not a bit. BM, not the same woman, only affects me to the point of when her behavior and way of life become harmful to SD. Get what I'm saying?

     

    Yep I totally understand. 

  • image jobalchak:

    I was a little bothered, but after a few minutes of thinking I realized that it makes a lot of sense.  It's hard coming in and trying to parent children who already "know" who their parents are and have developed their routine with these parents.  Since I was a big part of K's early development I was able to form that parental bond with her early on, whereas my DH had to hear a lot of "well my dad does this" or "you're not my dad you can't tell me what to do".  K has never really resisted me reprimanding her or correcting her behavior.

    Again, DH loves my children and they know he loves them.  They have seen him fight like hell for them when things got bad with BM, they know he supports them in their activities and he helps with homework and projects.  But it's not the instant connection and "love" he feels towards K. 

    And as a BM, any kind of love felt by the SP towards my kiddos is welcomed. 

     

    Thank you! That is nice to know. I think that DH was also a little upset when I mentioned it to him but I hope he has the same understanding that you do now. & it is also comforting to hear what you said about being a BM as well. I am pretty sure she knows I care for the girls, but I can't help but wonder what the girls say to their mother about me though and vice versa.... SDs have repeated unkind things that she has said about DH that are quite upsetting and untrue.. DH never badmouths BM in front of the children. I would imagine this is a very common issue in other BFs though.

  • Don't worry about what the kids are saying either. That is a YOU problem, and a problem with your own insecurities. Kids will take advantage of the situation that a blended family provides and tell half truths or even outright lies to get their way. Is it right? No. Should it be acceptable? Absolutely not. So consoder yourself lucky that you get to be a positive influence in your SK's lives, and then be one. Unless you or your H have done something to be guilty about, not saying you have, then you should not worry about what is said. But handle it when it comes up.
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