how to get that feeling

wifeeNovember 15, 2008


I am a stepmom and a mom. I married my husband almost 2 years ago, and we have been together a total of 5 years. My husband is great. We have had our ups and downs but he is truly a wonderful husband and father. When we met my sd's were 6 and 2. I knew going in that their mother was in and out of the picture. My husband flat out told me that. Before I even met the kids he told me how serious it was that I was meeting his girls because he did not let anyone else meet them. I knew that eventually I would end up filling a mother type role in their lives.

I thought I could do that. I married my husband and have done everything to be a good wife and stepmother. I even quit my job to stay home with the kids because we had such a problem with babysitters. I also took on a babysitting job in our home to make some extra money.

My stepkids are wonderful to me. They really are good kids. They get along great and are polite and kind. They treat me very nicely. But for some reason I just do not feel close to them. I am always nice to them and give them attention and affection. Most people think they are my daughters because of the closeness we portray.

I think part of my problem is my dislike for their mother. She is such a wench. And I guess it bothers me that they still think she is wonderful and hang on her every word and action. She will go months without seeing them or talking to them and then she will just swing back into their lives and they eat it up. Then I am pushed aside. In front of her they do not even pay attention to me. They will not hug me like usual or even acknowledge me. If I take them to a movie they appreciate it and thank me. But if their mom does it then they act like it was the best thing in the world! If I play toys or games with them they enjoy it. But if their mom takes them for a night or two and buys them some cheap toy and puts them in front of cartoons they act is if it was the best time they ever had!

It makes me resent them at times. And I feel like such a horrible person for doing that. How can I seperate my feelings for their mother from my feelings for them? I just do not know how to change it. When I look at my older sd I see the spitting image of her mom. It is like a constant reminder of the woman. Her mom is so mean to me. She says mean things about me to the girls and seems to complain about everything me and dh do. She even complains about the clothes we send the kids with each time they do see her. They are not brand names so they are not good enough! She complains about the way I do younger sd's hair. She complains that we won't let older sd wear make-up yet. She complains that we recently moved and the girls had to go to a new school. She just complains about everything.

It is just so much more than I thought it would all be. Is it like this for everyone?

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You are not alone and you are not a horrible person. I have sometimes had similar feelings. When things have been really bad with my SS's mother and the drama she causes, it has been hard for me to look at SS and not be reminded of all the negative things about being in a stepfamily. I think that's what you're describing. It's not that I have looked at SS and thought HE was causing the drama--but it does make it hard to "forget."

I think the important thing is to remember that *feelings* are never wrong. I think it is good to FEEL and work things through in your head. What matters is what we DO with those feelings.

It's not really that different than parenting. I have my own DD and there are times I could clobber her! I"FEEL" really angry--but I don't ACT on those feelings.

One thing that might help is limiting your contact with your SD's mom. I found that when I stopped being in contact with BM, I felt a lot calmer and was better able to focus on MY relationship with SS---instead of my relationship with her AND SS. ALL communication now goes through DH--I don't give messages, I don't respond to emails, etc. If BM needs something, she calls DH. If he's not home, she waits until he is available.

I think that was a huge turning point for me and my SS. Once I wasn't allowing myself to be affected by BM and the drama that seems to follow her, I found I was a lot more relaxed about everything. In turn, my relationship with SS really improved!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 8:36PM
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I know exactly how you feel. I feel the same way about my stepchildren's mother. I realized that by thinking that way and letting everything bother me, that I was giving this woman tremendous power. When I stopped doing that, it was like pulling a plug on the drama (which she thrived on). your stepchildren will always seek the approval of their mother no matter how absent she is. You are doing the right thing.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 8:27AM
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Wise words from Cindy_Pond --

Don't give that BioMom such a big place in your emotional life. Can you 'compartmentalize' so that when the kids are under her spell, that their actions don't hurt you? Then 'flip the switch' again when they're over it and back to being the sweet kids you love.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:18AM
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"Don't give that BioMom such a big place in your emotional life. Can you 'compartmentalize' so that when the kids are under her spell, that their actions don't hurt you? Then 'flip the switch' again when they're over it and back to being the sweet kids you love."

sooo much harder to do than said

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 3:27PM
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I don't have any ideas that haven't been given,
but sometimes I have "that feeling" for A__, and sometimes I don't...
I always love him, but some days he feels more "mine" than others. (I used quotes there because I know he's BM's son, not my son, but the feeling comes and goes)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Mom of 4 I agree that is so much easier said than done!

I despise the bm in my case because she is such a loser. And I do have to say that when my middle sd makes excuses for her mom not calling or not showing up it makes my blood boil! But you just have to realize that the kids are not their mother. And you just have to seperate the two.

But your feelings are not abnormal. And they do not make you a bad person.

Just remember that the kids are innocent in this all. They need love.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 3:48PM
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I try to remind myself (more so these days) that it is a deseprate cry for attention from mom. They are soo excited about the smallest thing because that is all they have with BM. Sometimes I think I am too close to the situation ...I am to emotionally involved and there is too much history... so I try to step back and think if this were a kid I was working with who was talking about someone I didnt know ... (even if I knew the situation) how would I respond? I would smile and be excited with them. I wouldnt think this other person was taking my place in the kids life. I have my spot ...tutor mentor friend... and this other person has theirs.

Most of the time it works... sometimes it's harder. But whatever you do ... dont get yourself trapped by not saying anything to anyone.... What I mean is talk about it. Vent here, vent to your husband, or even a friend (not in the kids presence ofcourse) But, whatever you do get these feelings out there because otherwise they will start to affect your actions with the kids and family. I usually tell my DH I know this is ridiculous but I really feel... And I usually get I know baby... I know its hard sometimes but I really do appreciate everything you do. And, usually that is enough.... just an understanding voice.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 6:00PM
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Wifee, the ex in your life sounds very similar to the one in mine. I am the CSM and have been for 8 years, so I've gone through this for a long time. I will say that as the kids grow older and wiser they do see the spot light less on the little bit mom does do and more on the large amounts she doesn't. For example, I coach SD's activity and spend 2-4 days a week, 3-4 hours each day involved in it. I know she appreciates this, but it's always been a given - I coach, lead, coordinate every sport, activity, club, party etc. Every couple of weeks mom would show up for part of a game, performance or party and SD would be so thrilled - MOM WAS THERE!! Start the parade! I'd feel so small - me, the coach, the leader, the reason there was an activity or party to be at in the first place. I had to make myself look at the bigger picture - this was parade worthy because it was rare. Because SD knew she couldn't depend on mom to be there, like clockwork, for each important event in her life. Dad and I were almost boring because we were ALWAYS there. It wasn't that having us there was any less important, it was that having mom there was like a special treat.
Now, you are likely asking yourself, why should mom being there be a treat? It shouldn't. But unfortunately with these type of mom's it is. Look at it from the other side - don't you prefer to be the dependable one? The boring one your SD's know they can count on? Your 'normalness' may not have the glitz and glam a mom pop by does, but when the parade ends and the dust settles, you will be the one they come to recounting their day. That has to count for a lot, doesn't it?

And truly, after the parades get old the kids start to see all the days with no parade, and speak more often about the times mom doesn't show than the ones she does. Then I go back to feeling small again, . . . but it's because I'm trying to shrink away rather than answer the "So, what do you think was more important than me this time?" question.

Trust someone who spent years trying to gain mom's 'approval' and make everyone a Very Brady Family . . . it's not worth it. Quit giving her complains so much weight. Know that you are doing the best you can do, and continue with it. Don't worry about the hugging thing so much - my Sd would struggle with this for a long time, but we know now that it was because mom would give her (and still tries to give her) such guilt trips over loving me that she just wanted to avoid that conflict. Mom would say things like "Well, if SM is so great and does all these things and you love her so much, I guess there is no reason for you to even visit me." You can understand why SD would hesitate to show me affection in front of mom. I understood this and accepted it - I knew a big hug awaited me when she got home. As SD got older it because a game of 'how much can I hug SM in front of mom and pi$$ her off.' Again - it's hard to know which is worse . . . sure, you feel a perverse sense of pleasure then the tides turn your way, but how on earth is either situation good for the kids??

I think my SD summed it up and tossed it back to mom best 1.5 years ago when her new sister was born. Mom was having the talk about how she'd always love SD and having a new baby wouldn't change that as her heart would just grow to make room for her love of them both. SD replied right back with "Then how is that different than you, me and my SM?"

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 2:05AM
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Love it JNM! Would have loved to see bm's face when sd made that comment!! How did bm reply?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 9:25AM
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