I was recently triggered by a post in one of my stepmom social support groups. The post hit home for a lot of stepmoms in that group given the feedback and response in the comments. Maybe it’s because it’s something that all stepmoms can relate to to some degree. You meet a pretty special guy and you find out he has kids. You fall in love regardless or in spite of this and you decide this is something you can do. Over time, as you become more involved with your partner and move in or get married you start living according to the vision you have created of what the blended life might look like-what you hope it will look like. You believe you will make the blended family transition smoothly. It will all go according to plan…and expectation. You decide you will start slowly. Let them warm up to you. Do activities that they like to do. Hey no pressure! The kids will accept you, like you, then become attached and love you. You will become a big happy family. As you move into the daily realities of step life you start investing more of your time, money and plenty more effort. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cabbing the kids to school and after school events. In general helping them out. You worry about them like a mom. You are excited when they are celebrating and sad when they are failing. All the ‘mom’ stuff. Yet you do all of this and it doesn’t seem like there’s recognition for it. Sure your partner shows his appreciation- if you are lucky. But not from the other person you’ve invested into emotionally. The wanting what’s best for them and sacrifices made -uncounted small ones and also the big ones is not honoured. I am a mom I know that kids can be ungrateful. But this one is different- there’s no guarantee that “well they may not appreciate it now but when they get older or have kids of their own they will appreciate it”. No unconditional love. And it can hurt. A LOT. There are minor slights that occur over time. You are ignored or forgotten or excluded maybe not intentionally. Or maybe the slights are more out in the open with in your face outright coldness and rejection. You live to learn the fact (and learn to live with the fact) that they aren’t attaching to you even thought you tried-really hard. Yes as children grow up friends, girlfriends and boyfriends and after school social activities are more important than parents- add another degree of separation for the step parent. It’s hard knowing that you may not become anything more than dad’s wife. So as time goes on you guard your heart, maybe a little at first. But you decide it’s more important to support your husband. You do it because you love him. You do it so he can continue to have a healthy relationship with his kids. You do it so when they have kids of their own they can have a grandpa in their lives and if you have “ours” kids you do it for them too. As hard as that realization is it’s not about you anymore. It’s ok to grieve the loss of that vision. I think you have to. The harder and longer you hang onto that vision the harder the hurt. Once you let it go, know that you’ve made a difference for your husband. And that can be enough-because it has to be.