02 December 2011

Being a "Wicked" Stepmom

There are alot of ideas out there about who or what a stepmom is.  Honestly, in my head, I picture the typical "wicked stepmother" from all of the Disney movies.  I even joke with Kyra and Rylan about being their "wicked" stepmom, especially when I'm bugging them about doing chores or telling them "no".  However, I think that being a stepmom is a unique experience and its probably one of the harder aspects of my life to explain to people.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting with a friend and we were talking about raising kids and the challenges that come along with that.  She asked me if I felt like I had changed since I got married and became a stepmom.  I thought about it for a moment, and then replied, "Nope, I don't think so."  She was surprised and asked me why I thought that.  How in the world could I not have changed?!

I told her that before Tim and I got married, we sat the kids down and talked to them about my role as their stepmom.  I explained to them that they already have a great Mom and that I was definitely not going to try and replace her.  I told them it was completely and totally fine to call me AJ and that I would probably find it a little weird if they called me "Mom."  Tim and I talked with them about our "House Rules" and asked them for input.  We, especially I, tried to be very very upfront about my expectations because I feel like if everyone is not on the same page with expectations, we're setting ourselves up for some major upsets.

I honestly feel like having this conversation was really key to making our family work.  It also helps that all of the parents and step-parents are on the same page about raising Kyra and Rylan and that there is communication going on between all of us.  The schedule of when we have the kids is pretty normal, and we can make it to all of the kids activities because we all live within 10 minutes of each other.  So, really, we have the best worst-case scenario.

All of this is what I explained to my friend about why I don't think I've changed since Tim and I were married.  However, I've given that question alot more thought.  I even talked with Tim about it and he agreed that I haven't changed since we've been marrried.

Probably alot of that has to do with getting married at age 31.  I think I had plenty of time to figure out who I am and my personality is pretty set.  I also think that because I'm a fairly laidback person...probably the most laidback person who lives in our home, I don't really feel the need to change much since how I am works.  Does that even make sense?

Anyways, there are alot of really great things about being a stepmom and I thought I should probably take the time to list them because, like I said earlier, its difficult to explain what being a stepmom is like.  So, here's my list.

1.  Part-time kids.  :)  How awesome is it to be able to have kids and then send them back to their other family?  We really look forward to having the kids come and all of the noise and chaos and taxi-driving and laughter and fighting and fun that comes with them.  I think we probably enjoy this much more because it's not the typical daily thing for us.

2.  Being able to support Kyra and Rylan in all of their activities and "stuff."  How cool is it to watch kids be successful?  While driving around to soccer practice and back and forth to scouts and Young Women and track/cross-country practice, is not my favorite way to spend my time, I think seeing Kyra and Rylan achieve goals and develop their talents is awesome!

3.  Not having the "serious" role of parent.  Because I'm not "mom," I think Kyra and Rylan open up to me more about stuff going on.  I've learned that the best place to get them talking is in the car.  I think that's because there's no confrontation going on at all.  I'm looking at the road and paying attention to what's going on around me, while they're looking out the window and just chattering away.  I also think they share stuff with me that they maybe wouldn't share with Tim, although I share it with him, because they know I'm not going to react.  I'm not a "reactor" so I sometimes wonder if they test info out on me, just to see what the response will be.

4.  Having instant teenagers.  I don't have to deal with poopy diapers, or whiny toddlers, or teach someone how to tie their shoes (I can hang out with my cute niece and nephews if I feel the need to play with small humans.)   I do have to deal with picky eaters and nagging people to take showers and wear clean clothes. I don't have to teach Kyra and Rylan how to behave...mostly.  That's all been taken care of.  So, really, I just have to set an example and followthrough on my expectations.  I'm pretty sure I missed the "nurturing/motherhood" line in heaven, so dealing with teenagers works for my personality.  Oh and I don't have to put leashes on them in stores or yell at them to watch for cars or make sure they don't catch themselves on fire or stick a fork in a wall socket.

5.  Being able to have "adult" children in 7 years!  How cool is that!  By the time I'm 40, Rylan will be done with high school and we'll be able to move on to the raising adult children phase of our lives.  That brings a smile to my face.  :)

Being a stepmom is great!  I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but I would say that if you're wondering about taking on someone else's kids, being a stepparent is not as bad as it seems.  You probably just need to go into the experience with your eyes wide open.  At least for me...

Oh and one more great thing about being a stepmom, hearing your stepdaughter introduce you to her friends saying, "This is my stepmom AJ and she's awesome!"  Who wouldn't want to hear that?


Marc & Cadie said...

Being a stepmom IS great! It is definitely unique experience but AWESOME!