I do NOT like being a stepmum!
I played that paper chatterbox game as a child, where, when you lift up the flaps, I would end up marrying a gardener, driving a Ferrari, living in a toilet and having 20 children.
Sometimes I ended up living in a mansion or driving a golf buggy but not once did I ever turn over a triangle that said I would have 2 biological and 3 step kids!
Little girls don’t talk about wanting to have a blended family when they grow up.
But like the dreams I had as a child, of becoming a famous tennis player, (even though I never even picked up a racket until I was at university) or living overseas with a handsome prince, life sometimes doesn’t turn out they way you envisaged.
Step mothers were always portrayed as the evil villains in children’s stories….Cinderella had one, so did Snow White!
But here I am a stepmother, and let me tell you…those Disney step mums were probably just cranky, because trying to raise someone else’s child is no fairy tale.
It is nothing like the Brady Bunch …how many families can afford an Alice…? The husband doesn’t come home early and always happy.
The kids don’t bound down the stairs in the morning excited to see you and go off to school. Conflict is not resolved calmly and sensibly in Mike’s den, with the outcome of a remorseful child offering to apologise to their sibling for the follies of their actions. As if!
Rather the reality is; extra kids, extra chores, extra exes (and that’s a whole other layer of vexation, which is for someone else to probe) more fights, more tears, more turmoil, more nagging, more self-recrimination, not as much affection and even more non-appreciation.
Now…. that’s not to say I don’t like my step children… I do, in fact forming a bond with a non-biological child may have to be one of the most rewarding relationships you can experience, but it definitely is NOT an-always-happy G-rated sitcom.
I am a mum with 2 daughters. I was a mother to those girls and married, and I have been a single mum, so I can appreciate the challenges and struggles of mothering in numerous forms.
But step-mothering is a whole extra level of parenting pain.
On the flip side and to be fair, there is a whole host of positives too. More laughs, more memories, more pride and more presents.
For the past 7 years I have been a parent to 5 mostly-delightful girls, (I’ m sure you can do the sums, but I have 3 step daughters) and while I don’t profess to be an expert, I think I have attained some level of happy, chaotic control over this functioning, slightly dysfunctional family of 7.
So to be clear. This is not a forum to vent my step-parenting furies, of which there are definately many, or to be self-righteous, which my friends will attest that I can be.
Rather as I am often asked about how I handle certain situations or how I get 5 girls to do certain things or in other cases how, not do certain things, I am going to share my tips, trade-secrets, rules, failures and successes hoping they might help or be further improved upon.
Parenting of all persuasions is not easy and not a one-path procedure. Step-parent or not, who hasn’t at one time wanted the huntsman to take their kids into the woods (not to kill them, but so they find a house of little people to experience cooking and cleaning for themselves) or to give them a potion that puts them to sleep for a 100 years?
Let me know what you think of my upcoming useful (arguably useful) tips and I’d love to know what problems you are experiencing, have encountered or solved so perhaps the next animated feature will star a calm, serene, successful, smiling stepmum (any mum really) as the hero.