I have been spending some time hanging out on stepparenting boards, and I am finding out that there are plenty of issues out there facing stepmoms. I am fortunate that I don't have to deal with most of these issues (although being a stepmom to two teenage boys is an issue in itself), but it is still interesting to hear about what is going on out there.
A lot of the posts on these boards deal with the BM, which stands for BioMom (although in my slightly narrow NICU world, it also stands for bowel movement). I am amazed at the number of people out there who just don't have good relationships with the mother of their stepkids. I know I am lucky because the BM in my life (that's the former version of BM, not the latter) does not seem to have it in for me. We have been able to coparent quite successfully. However, there are a lot of crazy stories out there. Women who use their children as pawns in the whole power struggle that seems to exist between them and their exes. Women who send their children to visit their father for the weekend with dirty clothes that don't fit. Women who call at the last minute and ask their children's father to take the kids for an extra weekend...or week...or two. Reading these accounts, you can't help but feel for the noncustodial fathers and the women they have married. I don't know how I would feel if my life ran that way. I am happy that I have not had to find out.
And then, there is the other side of the story. Being with someone in a long relationship that may include marriage and obviously includes children, only to separate or divorce and have to learn to live on your own again, must be an awful experience. When I think of the relationship I have with my husband and how intertwined our lives are, even after only six months of marriage, I can't imagine what it would be like not to be married to him someday. I can't imagine what it would be like not to have him be my husband. And I certainly can't imagine what it would be like to sit by and watch him share our children with another woman who somehow came to take my place. I know that, in our extended family, I am the lucky one. I am the one spending my life with a wonderful man who I love. But I also have to share him...and usually, I am happy to do that too.
It's an interesting dynamic we have, especially as we spend time traveling to my stepsons various sporting events, sitting on the sidelines together, cheering our teams on to victory (or supporting them in their defeat). And it will be interesting someday when we sit in an auditorium or a gym, watching these boys graduate from high school and from college. And it will be interesting someday when we watch a woman walk down the aisle, on the arm of her father, to meet each of these boys at the altar to begin a married life together. And I will always remember the first time I saw them, back in June of 2006, a six-year-old and a seven-year-old, playing in the yard in the late afternoon summer sun.
As I read these stories of women who do not have it as good as I do, I will be grateful for the great relationship we have. But I will still read these stories and offer my support to the other stepmoms out there. After all, we are a part of the Stepmom Club, and these are our stories...