My stepchildren spent last year’s March Break with us. The week was jam packed full of travel, activities and extracurricular activities. We made lots of memories and had a phenomenal time. It was perhaps one of our best March Breaks yet. But, as a lover of structure, routine and…well, peace and quiet…by Friday I was ready for the kids to get back to school. Like, really ready.
I wasn’t alone either.
When I logged onto Facebook that Friday, my newsfeed was full of status updates from exhausted moms. “Counting down the minutes until the kids go back to school on Monday,” one read. “Anyone else’s kids driving them nuts?” asked another. “I am so ready for March Break to be over,” whimpered a third.
Comments in the thread below were full of other moms, giving each other virtual high-fives and pats on the back. Part of me chuckled at these status updates because they made me feel less guilty. But another part of me became a little annoyed and a little jealous. Here is where the double standard between moms and stepmoms reared its ugly head.
If I were to write “I’m SO done with March Break! It’s time for the kids to go back to school. This step-mama is craving structure and routine,” the internet would be outraged. Even though the sentiment comes from the same (tired) place and doesn’t represent any ill feelings towards the kids, I would be judged.
I can just imagine the backlash. “How dare she say that about her stepchildren?” they’d ponder. “I wonder if her husband knows she feels that way?” they might ask. Or worse; “She knew what she was signing up for when she married him”.
The role of a stepmom is a tough one. Not just because of the extra stressors that come with co-parenting, and defining your role in a family that was created before you were even a thought. But because of the evil stepmom stereotypes, the stigma, and the double standards. It seems that society is ready and waiting to pounce at the slightest sign of weakness when you’re a stepparent.
As a stepmom, you need to know when to step up and when to butt out. You need to be a “parent” to the children, but never over-step the mark. And all of this with a smile on your face, because just one complaint and you’ll be reminded that “You knew what you were getting yourself into.”
Venting about the everyday frustrations that come with regular motherhood is not just acceptable—it’s encouraged. But complain about step-motherhood? Forget it!
If you ask me, it’s crap.
These days, 50/50 custody is often the norm. In many scenarios, moms and stepmoms spend an equal amount of time with the children and take on equal responsibilities when it comes to the kids. Yet, only one is encouraged to keep it real. And as a 50/50 stepmom who loves her three step kids like they’re her own, I’m calling BS.
Just like “real” moms, a little vent doesn’t mean we love these kids any less. It just means we’re human beings. There’s a movement in the online world which has allowed moms to share that parenting isn’t all hearts and sparkles. My hope is that things progress and stepparents are encouraged to do the same.
Regardless of the dynamic of your family unit, and even with all the love in the world, sometimes parents just need a break from the break!