I just realized that I have been a pain in the ass. It hit me like a lightning bolt. Let me explain my thinking.
When I became a stepmother, I jumped in with two feet. I was so excited to be related to my stepchildren. I loved being part of their lives. I also felt as if I might have something to offer them. I had no idea what that was, but I just got involved. I loved going to their events and participating in their accomplishments. I adored having them around and always wanted to maximize that time. I thought that I was a ton of fun to have around and I thought they were a riot. Even during their teenage years, I just knew that any controversy was developmental and it would pass. Even though I have been a true believer in one-on-one time with Mom and Dad, I think I was everywhere. I was engaged.
During this time, I knew other stepparents. They seemed to handle their families differently. In my mind, I thought they were disengaged. They did not attend all of their stepchildren’s events. They did what they could. They saw them strictly on the family divorce schedule. Their behavior seemed to say that the stepchildren were somewhat separate from them. They loved and/or liked their stepchildren but did not seem to be as intense as I was. Money was separate. Biological children seemed to get that intense attention that is typical of “real” parents.
All along, I thought that I was doing a great job. I thought I was “better” than those “other” stepparents who chose to do things differently. It never crossed my mind that a less involved stepparent may be better for the kids. Now, I wonder. Would everyone have been better off had I backed off a bit? Would it have been nicer to have a stepparent who was not so involved? Kept their distance? Had much less to say? The kids would have had more time with Mom and Dad.
I must say that when I see some of those other stepparents, their relationships with their stepchildren seem fine. They seem to be loved and admired. They seem to have lovely relationships with their grandchildren. Maybe, the answer is that many different styles work. There is no one set of rules just as there is no one set of stepchildren. I was no “better” than anyone else. At times, I wonder if I made a mistake or if I could have had it easier. Selfishly, I would not have it any other way. I had a blast.
Uh oh! Now, I am writing a blog. What a pain in the a–!