I was reading an article earlier that is the story of one stepmom’s journey through her last 16 years of marriage in a blended family. She touched on the struggles, tears and growth they’ve been through as a family and as a couple. Most stepparents will say the same things if you get them to open up about their journey. They will admit, ‘I had no idea what I was getting myself into’. With new love and new journeys, there is a strength in hope and optimization that grows strong. The most common response is that things will turn out because you will: try your hardest, keep an optimistic view, refrain from negative talk, be a friend, and respect boundaries. It’s such a simple concept before you join the stepparent club. If you just keep your place (assuming you know where that it) and keep the children’s best interest at heart, then things will work out.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The truth is you don’t, and can’t, know what you are getting yourself into beforehand because it’s a role that you have to first live to believe. The decisions you make and the effort you put in may not result in the outcome you are hoping for. In fact, you may very well find yourself in a position at one time or another that feels completely hopeless. You may want to run away, the tears may fall freely, and you may not be able to do anything about it.
The label of Evil Stepmother may come regardless of how hard you work, how many smiles you give, how many kind words you exchange or how many boundaries you abide by. It may come at the same time as you hear, “You’re trying too hard”. It may come even if you feel that your home is a happy one. It may come in the afterglow of a successful weekend with the kids. It may come no matter what you do – or don’t do. You may one day find yourself wearing the title like it is your own scarlet letter.
So prepare for it. Accept it. Not in the sense of fulfilling what is portrayed in the movies, but embrace it in the sense that there may not be anything you can do to avoid it. Make the decision that no matter what titles are spewed or what words are said, that you will keep doing what is best for your family and your relationships. Choose to ignore the negative undertones in remarks, gestures and looks because you know the truth of your heart and your home. You know, better than any outsider, what you marriage and family needs to succeed and strengthen. If doing your best and doing what is needed to secure a happy family results in being labeled the Evil Stepmonster, then take it. Embrace it. Make it part of your mantra. Because really it is just one of many titles that can get easily thrown around. It can’t make or break you and it can’t impact you unless you allow it. Don’t let a few silly words break your spirit, your drive or you goals.
Evil Stepmonsters, you’ve got this. Don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t forget the love and optimism that first brought you to this role.