“They will break your heart a 1,000 times a day” that’s how a quote from “The Single Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife” was interpreted by my brain (or my heart arguably), but what Sally Bjornsen actually wrote was “your stepkids are going to break your heart 10.5 times a month during your first few years of stepmotherhood” – and boy is she right! The book is brilliant, and I recommend it as a must read.
When you make the commitment to love and care for children who are not your own, they do break your heart in very unique ways. All children break their parent’s hearts, but the stepparent-stepchild dynamic is more cutting (I would argue). If you are stepparenting in an unwicked manner, you will bite a hole through your tongue, find a closet or bathroom to cry in, go for drives around the neighborhood on your way home, and find many other ways to sort through your emotions and not crush those innocent children with what you really think.
When “momma’s” or “daddy’s” cooking, game playing, choice of soap, way of folding laundry, reading a story, driving, selecting toothpaste, and many other things is thrown in your face as “better” than the way you do it – your heart will break and your tongue will gain a hole.
I try each day not only to meet my stepchildren’s needs, but to do special things for them because I love them and want them to feel special when they are at our house. Very often those efforts are overlooked, thrown in the trash, left hanging in the closet, “momma’s xyz is better because…”, and on and on….it hurts, deeply…but you can’t say a word. They are already in the middle. Many child psychologists state that research has shown such statements or behaviors are simply a child’s way of coping…often trying to bring their absent parent into their life at that moment. But, that does not mean it hurts any less.
The best thing we can do is to continue to bite your tongue, play dumb, and say things like “oh really well, I like to do it this way because”. However, you do need to tell your spouse to take up for you. In a kind way, the biological parent of the household should encourage the children to say thank you, eat what’s given to them and embrace something different, and flat-out tell them in a nice way that the stepparent has feelings too and loves them very much and tries very hard to make them feel loved and special.
As a step-parent of the unwicked variety, do your best to stay true to yourself and continue to give with all your heart. Also, do your best to uphold your spouse, the biological disenfranchised parent, in the children’s eyes; chances are that parent is not upheld of much value to the children by the ex-spouse, so seeing that affirmation from you is priceless.