It’s funny to me how all of us think alike. “It will get better” is a common lament that I hear stepmoms say, especially in the earlier years. Then, as the years go by and there are still family issues, this deep sense of disappointment sets in. Perhaps you have said it to yourself. “After all that I have done for them, they still treat me badly. Or, I love them like my own and they still treat me badly.” Sound familiar?
I have been in “Stepworld” for 20 years. When I got into the game, I thought it was reasonable that children would have issues with me. After all, I am a living, breathing testament to their parents’ divorce. Unbeknownst to my own brain, I believed that it would be fine someday. I believed that one day, the kids would all grow up and be madly accepting and in love with me. Was that an unrealistic dream?
I learned a couple of things. I learned to understand that certain feelings just don’t go away. Loyalty to bio parents don’t go away. Feelings of abandonment don’t go away. The desire to be loved does not go away. Secondly, do not judge the feelings a child may have for you by their behavior. They may feel torn, but know, deep in their souls, that you are there for them. In the end, all a stepmom can do is to love the kids unconditionally. The “return” is in knowing that you loved and did your best. That is enough.
Here’s the good news. We get to practice that hard kind of love that people talk about, but rarely achieve. I am convinced it is good for our souls.
Dedicated to my friend, Amanda.