Teleportation, invisibility, shapeshifting, telekinesis, fire throwing, aquatic respiration…. At some point, many of us have considered which superpower we would choose if we could have one. I’ve always gone with invisibility or teleportation depending on my mood. Go anywhere, be unseen – love it! However, being a stellar stepmom (smom) was not on my short list. But as it turns out, helping to raise other people’s children into quality grown ups is a legitimate superpower. Who knew?! Granted, it might not be as cool or as fun as telekinesis, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You may not be their birth parent, but you are parenting. Even when you think you’re not parenting. Or especially when you think you’re not. You are. And believe me, they are paying attention – to everything. You’re there, every day, present and accounted for, doing the very best you can.
Before I became a smom, I really didn’t comprehend that unconditional love is, in fact, a superpower. And I’m talking about unconditional self-love. I believe it’s at the base of all the things we do well. Maintaining that will see you through many challenges and pitfalls when it comes to successful smomming – especially when your stepkids (skids) are cold, thoughtless, self-involved hormone factories (i.e. teenagers). I love my skids, every day, no matter what, but there are times when I don’t like them or want to be around them. And I’m willing to bet some serious cash that they have felt the same way about me. I could really use those teleportation or invisibility super powers when that happens…
Despite the tough times, that “no matter what” kind of love was always in me for them. Whatever your experience is on this journey, please allow yourself your feelings and your truth. Unconditional love for yourself will help you attain smoother sailing through the guacamole-like sludge that will get in your way from time to time. And that, whether for yourself or other people, is a superpower. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Love yourself! You’re amazing!
Obviously you’ll have feelings that cause you to doubt yourself along the way. Let’s say you don’t miss the kids the same way their dad does (or at all for that matter). This one absolutely holds true for me. Give yourself permission to not miss them. It doesn’t make you a bad smom. It doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy your time with them and it most certainly doesn’t mean you don’t love them. In truth, you may never miss them as much as your spouse does. Heck, sometimes you’ll even dread them coming back to your house. Guess what? You’re still a stellar smom.
As I get older, I find that I’m quite protective of my alone time. In large part, that’s where my sanity lives (much like any parent). It’s quiet. No doors slamming. No one needs anything from me. I don’t have to cook for the masses or drive anyone anywhere. I can have a glass of wine and binge on Netflix, and I’m not sorry. As I progress through the ever-changing climate of living inside a blended family, one thing that still sometimes catches me by surprise is this: even when things are going well, life as a smom can still feel tense and emotional. That doesn’t mean something is wrong or I’m screwing up. It just means that being a smom can be an intricate, complicated and arduous job, especially with people whose brains are still under construction and an ex-spouse in tow. A sense of humor, consistent boundaries, and some regularly scheduled alone time will serve you well in your repertoire of highly effective super powers.
I hope we’ll meet again, but for now I’ll leave you with this. You are enough. Some days you won’t feel like it. Many times you’ll be convinced you just aren’t. You won’t believe that you’re doing enough especially inside the deep and sometimes dark chasm of marrying into an established family. And there will definitely be times, especially during birthdays and holidays (or when you’re tired or ovulating or it’s Thursday), where you will be capable of feeling lonely while in a room full of people. And I’m quite sure that’s the worst kind of loneliness there is to be had. In those days or moments, remember your super powers. They’re with you all the time. And then do your best to own them because they belong to you. You’re remarkable. You’ve got this!
Nicole Heiman got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Writing from UW-Eau Claire and in her free time (wait, what’s that?), she relishes the opportunity to write and be creative whenever possible. Nicole, originally from San Diego, (and still not quite sure what she’s doing in WI) is a smom to her two wonderful skids, Sam and Grace. She lives on the Eastside of Madison with them, her husband, Joel, and their lovely collection of incredibly quirky pets. Movies are her drug of choice and laughter is her favorite form of exercise. Nicole is honored to be a guest writer for Madison Moms Blog and hopes to have the chance to write for them in the future.