May 23, 2009

The Hardest Job in the World Ever, with a side of whine.

I have had many jobs and worn many hats in my life.

I scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins.
I was a hostess at Golden Corral.
I waited tables in a Texas steakhouse.
I managed a sports bar.
I trained waitstaff for an upscale hotel.
I worked in the ER.
I worked on a ambulance.
I was a bartender, a cocktail waitress, a day care worker.

I've sold insurance.
I've sold advertising.
I worked in a psychiatric hospital.
I owned an elder care company.
I've worked the farmers market, in an auto repair shop, sold on eBay, craft shows & flea markets.

And even with all these jobs, I was only fired once in my life.
That's another story for another day,
But it had nothing do do with me or my job performance.

I now hold the most difficult and challenging job title in the world...


Being a mother is hard enough, but throw that little "step" word in front of it and it becomes 100 times more difficult.

Let me start by saying that I love all of our kids as if I carried them each in my womb.
They all live with us 100% of the time.
They all have the same rules,
same consequences, same expectations & same affection.

I don't introduce my brood by saying "Bob, George, Spot & Frank & Suzy are mine, But Fred? Well, Fred is my step-son."

I don't see them that way.
I love them all the same.
I treat them all the same.

Or so I thought...

When I am dealing with my natural-born children,
I am the be-all end-all.
I am Mom.
Right or wrong, perfect of not, that's the way it is, so you better just learn to deal with it.
It is black and white.
Right or wrong.
Yes or no.

Being a step-parent is full of gray, full of self-doubt, full of questioning.
I may be far from perfect,
but I am a very confident mother.
I am, however, the total opposite as a step-mom.

I don't let it show... they can smell fear and doubt ya know!

I'm always being mindful that it doesn't appear (to him OR the other children) that I am treating him different.

If he gets into trouble and I discipline him, does he think I'm harder on him than the other kids because he is not "mine"?
If he doesn't get into too much trouble, do the other kids think I am showing him favoritism because he's not "mine"?

Just this past week.... being a head-strong, attitude-filled, cocky, testosterone-filled teenager, he said something very disrespectful and nasty to me.

I was shocked,
I was angry,
I was hurt.

If my natural-born, head-strong, attitude-filled, cocky, testosterone-filled teenager had said it, I would have, without hesitation, smacked his mouth clean off of his face!!

But, with my step-son, I did not.
I gave him a VERY large piece of my mind.
He was disciplined and punished.
His father threatened great bodily harm if it every happened again.
And then he scolded me for not knocking his block off.
(His father is working out of state, so this is done by phone.)

I'm not sure why it is different, but it IS different.
His natural mother is not involved in his life, so it's not that.
I am not new, I've been in his life for a long time. So I don't think that's it.

He is a good kid.
He, as most teenage boys, gets stupid and mouthy at times. But nothing more than is "normal".
It isn't that he is more of a problem than my natural-born son.

It's just different.
I pride myself in my confidence... or at least the appearance of confidence.

I hate feeling so unsure of my every move!
And the worst part is....
I'm doing it to myself!

I don't know if it can change, or if it ever will change.
I don't know if all step-parents feel this way,
Or if I just suck.

Isn't there a Step-parenting for Idiots book out there??
If so, please send me a copy. STAT!!

Thanks for listening/reading my whine-fest.
It's just one of those weeks, I guess...
It'll get better someday.... RIGHT???

*tap* *tap* *tap* Is this thing on??


Lola said...

Maybe because it is your step son, even though his mother isn't involved, you still may have that hesitation.

We seem to have the opposite effect going on in our house. The children are my biological children, there father is in their life just to wreak havoc in our lives. Anyway, my children respect my partner more than they respect me. They wouldn't dare call her a name, but they don't hesitate to curse at me. And the kids know I can't touch them because even though they don't want to see their dad, they will go crying to him if I were to ever touch them. All Anastasia has to do is raise her voice or give them the look and it's pretty much instant compliance. I'm sure it all stems from the days when it I was with their father and when I was alone I was "the law", I was "the law", then I had a different partner who disrespected me in front of the kids, called me a bad Mom, etc, etc. Anastasia does go to bat for me, but when they are disrespectful or don't do their chores I find myself doing my version of "wait until your father comes home", and it's "wait until Anastasia comes home". On top of that, I have to walk on eggshells because of my daughter's mental illness. She uses it to manipulate.

It's good that your husband supports you, some blended families don't deal well when the step parent tries to parent.

Tatersmama said...

It's a hard call... but do you think that he "thinks" that you treat him differently? Teenagers are a pita at times, so prehaps that's all it is?

Or did he say something along the lines of "you're not my mother, so don't tell me what to do"?
It's good that your hubby supports you though, because when teenagers smell that they can get away with something - and the other parent doesn't back you, you better watch out!

Anonymous said...

Speaking from the "step child" brother and I were the "step children" and introduced as such, we spent every waking moment making our "step dads" life hell because we were never HIS. We were always the "steps" or "her kids" so we thought he deserved to be treated like crap, especially since his parents told us point blank that we were NOT allowed to call them grandma and grandpa because they WERE NOT grandparents.
However,if you show no difference,dont worry about it, treat them all the same and you should get treated the same. If you knock ones block off,knock them all off.Being a step child gives us no reason to treat our step parents any differently than our blood parents. In our case, if it werent for our step-dad...we would have been homeless and hungry if my mom had to provide all on her own.
I'll sum it up takes a special person to be a step parent and if you can fill those shoes, the good Lord has a special place in Heaven for you because its a SUPER tough job.
I'm sending a high five your way :)

Christopher Doyle said...

I had two stepparents as a child and wanted them both to love me, but they found it too hard. When I became a stepparent myself, I promised that I would treat my stepchildren as if they were my own. But they rejected me, and their mother blamed me for making them unhappy, just because I was doing for them what their father should have been doing. So, like you, I wrote. My latest novel for kids is about a 12 year old and his sister who are faced with the possibility of their mom's boyfriend becoming their stepdad. The boy who idolized his father is reluctant to let this new man into his life. It's called Lessons From the Cape and it's available from

Angie Blackwell said...

By the way, Erika Lutz wrote " the Complete Idiot's Guide to Stepparenting", but something tells me you are doing fine without it. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to help your family be one, strong unit. That said, challenges are bound to occur, they are just different than the ones that you face with your bio-kids.
Take care,
Angie Blackwell

Lacey said...

I've been the step-child all my life. My mother has remarried a few times, so having step-fathers is no new experience for me. All but one of them treated my brother and I as step-kids. The one that didn't is an awesome man. He is the man that I look to as a father figure in my life. Speaking from experience, I know teens (not just teen boys) have a tendency to mouth off and say things that they don't really mean. I'm sure that is what happened at your house. You seem to be handling the blended family thing quite well. Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

It's a hard thing to be a step parent!
I try my best to be a great a great step mom, but at times that makes my step son's biolgical mom mad and she takes it out on my husband. She makes our lives hard in any way she can and we always try to just make due and be respectful for his sake.
I think in the end you love them the way you love any child, but you know someone is looking over your shoulder (the other parent) I know your child's mom is not in the picture, but I bet there is the looming feeling like they are watching.
I know I feel that way all the time and it weighs on me. I also feel like kids love their Mom because they are their mom, but loving their step mom is a choice and I never want to do something to jeopardize that love. said...

LOVE the perspective here. Great post!
Reading this made me think of Kathleen who sent us her story about becoming a stepmom. She talks about her initial uncertainty, and then with her husband’s help learning to follow her heart and now absolutely LOVING being a stepmom.
Below is a link to her video. I hope you like it as much as I do. Take care.

K said...

There's a whole community of step-moms on the web (you can start at -- maybe just google that) who I'm just discovering after 13 years as a s'mother to three, 5 kids of my own, and all the trials and tribulations that go with. They lived, primarily, with us, I was the parent responsible for them 80% of the time (as I was the one available or not completely wrapped up in my own world.) I love them as my own. But some days, especially now that they're in their late teens and early 20s, I don't like them much. It seems, to two of them at least, I'm to blame for all of their problems. Not the crazy mom who is always dying of something, who abandoned them, uses them, and ignores them unless they have some use to her. So I completely understand where you're coming from. It's so frustrating and I thought we'd be over it by now. I used to think it'd get better as they aged. I don't know if I was right. Their mom has done too much damage.