It would appear that there are alot of stepmothers who are afraid to come out of their shells and publicly talk about the REAL stories and dramas of stepparenting. Where can you go to share what you are really feeling? Or to tell other stepmamas a funny story about something stupid that was done or said to the step kids when they were epically failing as a stepmom in someway? Or asking: have you ever felt rejected, disrespected, IGNORED? Do you still feel that you are an outsider in your own family and in your own house?? Why do other stepfamilies look so happy and I just can’t do that? The answer in part is fear of judgement and the other part is fear of failure. And a healthy side of: “I’m afraid to expose my guilt about not looking happy and being happy and that everything is roses and sunshine every where everyday!!” I used to think “if they look like they have the perfect relationship with their step kids I’m scared I might out myself that I’ve had issues and that I don’t have the devoted, undying love of my step kids the way that I imagine that the other, better stepmoms do”. Or I imagine that they have an endless supply of patience. Or that they never yell at their children…or their steps. Or…or…I’m just not good enough…
But why as women do we judge other women? Why as mothers do we judge other mothers? I wonder? What makes you better than me or me better than you? What makes you a better mother than me or me a better mother than you? We live in a culture where we jump to judgement and are quick to condemn. We treat each other like competition. We look at each like competition. We don’t all want the same things. We are not all on the same path..our destinations are different. Lord knows our children are different. Even among the children we gave birth to. Yet we judge others without knowing the whole story, their whole truth …life is not a race. Yet we seem to be racing to the finish to make sure our children are excellent at everything and the first to be the most excellent at everything before everyone else’s kids are.
We are so afraid of judgement yet sometimes we catch ourselves passing it onto others. We unnecessarily burden ourselves with negativity and guilt. You never hear men talking like that behind the others backs or even in front of them. Whose standard are we trying to reach? Who sets those standards? Why is everything a competition? Who wins? Not you and certainly not the kids.
Moms already have it tough. We stand around the playground watching who’s wearing what. What their kids are wearing. Who’s driving what, who can afford a nanny or a housekeeper. We also have to keep in mind what kind of message are you sending to my kids about self worth: That I care what other people think. But we shouldn’t. Stepmoms have an even higher standard to try to maintain. If we don’t have our own children coming into this we can be judged by the mother of the children we are helping to raise and/or extended family who have a previous measuring stick to put you up against. We have more people watching us and more people who have a vested interest in our failure- waiting for it to happen. And some may even delight in that failure.
BUT guess who is the harshest most critical judge of all…yes… YOU!!!! We are relentless with ourselves. We have a feedback loop of negative self talk running through our heads on auto replay almost 24-7. I believe that low self esteem is the foundation of judgement. People with self esteem issues bring others down so they can feel better about themselves. The other piece to that puzzle is fear which also stems from low self esteem. We are afraid to lose what we have. It’s comfortable. Safe. So how do we make it better ? Be true to yourself and stand in strength, stand in compassion for yourself first, stand in integrity and stand in grace for ourselves and other mothers- step or otherwise. We all have our own hard road and our own burdens to carry..why add any more to weigh us down? Take care of each other, create a safe community to support each other and even more importantly take care of yourself. Without the guilt. And give each other a step up. Step up for step moms!