Stepmom Caitlin McKitterick shares the three things she’s done to conquer her feelings of self-doubt and own her stepmom role.
I remember the first time I dropped B off at school.
I walked into the lobby amidst all the other parents chatting about their newborns, their older children’s kindergarten teachers, and their summer camp plans. Feeling like I had NOT A REAL MOM plastered across my forehead, I kept my gaze down and rushed out of there as fast as I could.
What do I even have in common with these other moms? I thought to myself. I’ve never experienced pregnancy, cared for a baby, or dealt with sleep deprivation from late-night feedings. It was the first of many times I felt inadequate over the mere fact that I’m not B’s “real” mom.
Stepmom impostor syndrome, as I like to call it, is a very real thing that I’ve worked hard to overcome. With time, I came to realize that my feelings were reflections of my own insecurities, and that I am in total control of how I react to these situations.
Below I’m sharing the three things I’ve done to conquer my feelings of self-doubt in hopes to inspire fellow stepmoms to own their roles!
Embracing My Role As The STEPmom
How do you react when a well-meaning stranger refers to you as “mommy” to your stepchild? Do you take the time to explain the situation to a person you’ll likely never see again, or do you just nod and smile and go on with your day?
I can’t blame people for assuming that I’m the mom of the small child I’m pushing around in a grocery cart on a Saturday morning, but whenever it used to happen, feelings of shame and self-doubt would start to creep in. Feelings that I wasn’t worthy of being B’s mom. After all, I’m just his stepmom.
Gradually, I came to own my unique role of STEPmom. It’s what I am, after all, and it’s a privilege to be that person to him.
I don’t feel taken aback anymore when people mistake me as his mom and more importantly, I don’t feel ashamed to say that I’m “just” the stepmom. It’s a role I’m proud to claim, and you should be too!
Realizing All Moms Are Just Winging It
No matter how many books I read or how much research I did, I felt like I was unprepared for every parenting situation I found myself in. If I forgot to bring a snack or wipes or a change of clothes for B during one of our outings, I felt like I was failing as a stepmom.
Through talking with friends who had children of their own and opening up about some of my #momfails, I came to realize that this is a parent-wide phenomenon, not just a stepmom one. This was a mind-blowing realization for me: None of us know what we’re doing when it comes to managing our tiny humans, and it’s absolutely okay to feel discouraged at times.
Besides, can any how-to book really prepare us for dealing with a public toddler meltdown?
It’s so important to reach out to others for support and to admit that you don’t know what you’re doing at times. Being open and vulnerable about your struggles is no easy feat, but it’s necessary to help you understand your role and strengthen your resilience towards the stressors that you are sure to face in the future.
Letting Go Of Others’ Expectations
When you become a stepmom, everyone has an opinion to offer:
Don’t get over involved.
Be more involved.
Put your foot down.
Be more sensitive.
While it’s great to have others to connect with and confide in about your experience, a major part of becoming confident in your stepmom role will be figuring out what works best for you and your family.
I spent a lot of time focusing on pleasing others and behaving in a way that I thought was expected of me. If someone suggested act differently, I would dwell on it.
The stress of trying to abide by everyone’s advice about my own unique situation started to get overwhelming. With some time, I came to learn that in order to be my best stepmom self, I needed to let go of others’ expectations about my role and to learn through my own trial and error. The reality is that all families operate uniquely, blended or not.
Caitlin McKitterick is a Canadian-based teacher, wife and stepmom of a four year old boy. On her blog www.bubblytobedtimestories.com, you will find the ramblings of a bachelorette-turned-stepmom on how she strives to live a balanced, inspired and fulfilled life amidst the chaos of a blended family.