This is a question I was asked today.
My answer is yes, it can definitely get better.
Hindsight is 20/20
Of course, I’ve been a stepmom for 20 years. It’s easier for me to look back at what unfolded and say that it got better now.
If you are in it now and you’re feeling unhappy now — it can be hard to see that.
At the start of being a stepmom was … well very early beginning was pretty fun for me actually. I was working hard to keep everybody happy and prove that I could do this stepmom job.
After the dust settles is when the grind of marriage and of life kicked in for me.
I had a lot of struggles. I questioned my decisions. I had many times where I felt lonely and overwhelmed and unsure. In those moments I do clearly remember how hard it was.
But we made it through. Both my stepkids still speak to me. 🙂
The grind of life can be hard
I don’t think it’s because we’re in blended families that makes it hard.
There are lots of people who will tell you that blended family life it’s hard (free advice: maybe don’t surround yourself with those people if you want your marriage to work out.)
There are lots of people who will tell you that stepmoms are evil or give you statistics on marriage failure.
I’m here to offer a different perspective.
Lots of things are hard. College is hard. Living in a foreign country is hard. Working 12 hour shifts on a physical job is hard. Running marathons is hard. People do those things every day. When we are faced with things that are hard sometimes we choose to do them even though we know they are hard.
Are blended families more complicated?
Maybe a blended family can be more complicated. Although I’m not even sure that’s true. I know somebody who was one of 7 kids. One mom and one dad. Not blended but that’s a lot of kids. It’s going to be complicated.
I generally think that being an adult can be really hard sometimes. Being a spouse. Living with somebody for years and years and putting up with whatever cute things they do that maybe aren’t so cute after 5 years. That can be hard.
And caregiving is hard. It’s hard for teachers and nurses and mom’s and stepmoms. Kids are a ton of work.
There is no training for being a stepparent
The only training we get for being stepparents is on the job training.
I found that to be a challenge. I remember thinking hmmmm…I feel like I am the person who should know what to do here and the truth is I don’t know.
I remember once I was asked to take my young stepson to soccer practice. We showed up and he did not know where to go and I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place. I was very stressed out because I thought I should know and I didn’t. I figured it out…eventually.
That’s a secret about adults, right?
As a kid you look up at the adults and think …those adults they have all the answers. As an adult – as a parent I often found that I didn’t have very many answers.
The thing is that there are a lot of people who will offer to tell you what to do as a parent or a stepparent. It can be challenging to figure out who is sharing advice and tips that actually work for you.
Yes, it can get better
Any new situation can be filled with struggle. Blending families is not an exception.
If you’ve ever moved away from home to go to college you will maybe remember that at first there were all kinds of struggles because it was all new.
Or even when you move houses and find yourself shopping in a new grocery store where the aisles are in a different order — that simple task can feel tough.
If you commit to learning and adapting to the new situation it can get easier.
It sometimes helps to admit (even just to yourself) that you may not quite know all the things that you need to know.
You may need to learn some skills. You may need to try a few new things.
In my case working on my mindset helped a lot. This is something I help my clients with every week.
Life comes in seasons
There is a saying in parenting, “the moments are long but the years are short.”
If you are struggling right now in your relationship with your partner or your kids or their kids or merging parenting styles or any other number of things that come up there is one thing that I believe to be true which is that that particular issue usually doesn’t last forever.
I remember one time one kid and my husband got a stomach virus and the for what seemed like the longest 24 hours of my life at the time – the entire house smelled like vomit and poo. It was awful. Then it ended.
I have some tips to share
This year I celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Yes … congratulations.
I don’t pretend to have a storybook fairy tale marriage or anything but I have worked hard to make my blended family work.
I put together a list of tips which come from things that I worked on with myself and my family over the past 20+ years. These are the things that I honestly think helped me to find happiness in my blended family and my role as a stepmom. You can find them here.