The Biology Card – Throw at Your Convenience

This is one of my favorite topics! An idea that used to drive me insane and now, one I simply laugh at. When things start to heat up, be it from jealousy or any other tension, biomoms like to do what I call ‘tossing out the biology card’.

Let’s just call it like it is. Somewhere along the line it becomes a competition. An ongoing competition. A race to the trophy of ‘Best Mom’ between biomoms and stepmoms. Who will win?! Who gets to be the child’s favorite?! This can be a silent race, or a very vocal, bitter and sometimes downright pathetic race.

Ladies, we need to come to accept that we will be faced with petty BS consistently and instead of entertaining it, take the high road in every situation. You will hear me referring to the ‘high road’ a lot. The high road is holding your tongue when it’s easier to sling mud. Well deserved mud at times, but still wasted unnecessary mud 🙂 The high road is allowing the child to talk about, make cards for, and if nothing else, having you simply remain NEUTRAL in every aspect involving their biological mother. This can be very difficult, but it gets easier once you learn to see it from the right perspective.

I’m to a point now where I don’t even give it a second thought. My stepson’s biological mother’s name does not cross my lips in front of him. Her life is hers alone to live without my concern as we live ours without her concern. The two should not cross except in absolutely vital circumstances. You are NOT married to her ladies. Remember that. I’ve been taught that if he asks about her, I am always to give generic neutral statements, and remind him he is able to contact her at any time if he would like. These generic neutral statements are where you win friends. Use them, consistently. It’s not your job to answer questions for little ears, let them figure it out. They will do so without your help and they will only resent you if you are speaking poorly of their flesh and blood. And no it doesn’t matter if it’s deserved, your opinion isn’t what counts. Have faith that the child will form an accurate opinion, if you leave yours out of it, he will and your relationship will be better off for it.

I’ve learned how incredibly, EARTH-SHATTERINGLY intelligent children are. All they want to know is that they are loved and their opinion matters. They want to know that they are allowed to feel ANY WAY THEY WANT and you won’t judge them or make it uncomfortable for them. In a phrase I often use to describe these munchkins, they are wise FAR beyond their years. They were forced to grow up faster than kids who never had any such challenges. They know the truth already, you ‘feeding’ it to them will only backfire. If you honestly are taking the high road, the biology card will become easy to blow off.

The throwing of this ACE starts something like this:

Stepmom is in the picture. She is raising stepchild, sometimes full time, sometimes part time, sometimes it changes, but she is in the picture nonetheless and an important part of it. Biomom has trouble with this. She senses a threat, real or imagined.

Stepmom is doing one of two things:

1. Fueling the fire ~ coaxing the kid to pick favorites, speaking poorly of biomom, or trying to take over and leave biomom out

{or}

2. Taking the high road ~ keeping opinions to herself, trying to encourage a relationship with biomom, buying gifts for her so the child can give her something, making cards for her with the child for occasions, connecting biomom to teachers, doctors, coaches -helping to ensure her involvement with the child etc.

Perhaps biomom has every right to be livid with a woman who jumps in thinking she can take over the parenting (scenario 1), or in some cases, ahem, she is bitter because someone is doing it better (scenario 2) and perhaps she feels a bit guilty…so instead of DOING all the things she knows she should be doing, she talks about it. They must believe putting it down on paper and telling people that’s the way it is makes it reality.

In either case, after either being pushed to the limit by a shallow stepmom’s childish attempts to piss her off (scenario 1), or in some cases, feeling more fulfilled by using words and saying what they do for their child(ren), rather than actually DOING it (scenario 2), they throw out the biology card. It is thrown at their convenience, usually when there’s nothing left to ‘play’. Stepmom is actively taking on the role of mother, while biomom frantically tries to discredit her. But biomom has run out of false accusations and most likely, petty insults too. Whatever will she do now?! How can she win the trophy if she isn’t doing her part?!

So, the card is tossed, enter, the ACE. It comes in either verbal or written form. It’s so familiar and predictable, it does at some point actually become funny. I’ve read it. I’ve heard it. It is an all out last ditch effort to remind the WORLD that THEY CREATED THIS CHILD AND A STEPMOM CANNOT COMPETE WITH THAT! Something about a ‘bond between a mother and her child can never be broken, and we know what we have and no one can take that away from us and God put us together and you will always be my child and I made you and we are one and —-‘ ……bored yet?

Yawn.

I am.

Okay, while it’s TRUE that a biological bond is one of great importance, a bond that a biological mom has that a stepmom doesn’t, it is not the only thing that makes a mother. Now, I will give THIS to a biomom, there ARE evil stepmothers out there. They are terrible people, and they wish to creepily move in on another woman’s child because they aren’t mature enough to handle this position. In THAT case and THAT case alone, this ACE is as good as gold and is more than valid.

But for the MAJORITY of stepmothers, we KNOW we didn’t birth your kid for God’s sake, who are you so desperately trying to prove this to? Us? Or yourself? I don’t WANT to be his birth mother. That was not God’s plan and I don’t try and alter God’s plans in anything. However, for whatever reason, you are not raising this child with his father. By splitting from his father, you chose to allow another woman the opportunity to join in the responsibility. Sometimes, your choices dictate that another woman raise your child entirely. Enter: Me. Biomoms, you can’t POSSIBLY think this is a dream come true for us can you? No woman grows up with the dreams of having their life strung together this way. No woman dreams of having a DIFFERENT wedding, or a DIFFERENT mother-child relationship or a DIFFERENT and COMPLICATED lifestyle. But some women are strong enough to take this all on because the child and his father were too special to pass up.

I get the jealous drivers behind the biology card at times. I do. I really do. But what is to be gained from this? Instead of DOING the work, these biomoms TALK about what they have done in the past (worthless in the present and future, folks), they TALK about all that they are DOING (really? Not leaving much of an impression eh?) and they TALK about their FUTURES with this child. A pretend future. An imagined future. The only FUTURE with a CHILD is one made with sweat, blood, and tears day after day after day so the child knows who they can COUNT on in the future. It’s NOT based upon whose NAME is on the BIRTH CERTIFICATE they won’t even look for until they’re 18 years old and applying to colleges!

Oh, and more importantly, that card alone, that flimsy, piece of paper, that floats away in the most subtle of breezes? That card that is easily ruined by the slightest rain or better yet, RIPPED IN TWO by tiny hands at their discretion (anyone with kids knows a silly little playing card doesn’t stand a chance around a young child!)….that card? It means less than nothing in the eyes of a child. Believe me, I know this. My stepson said to me this morning as I DROVE HIM TO THE SCHOOL WE PAY FOR, after I FED HIM BREAKFAST, after I GOT HIM READY, wearing the CLOTHES I WASHED, carrying the LUNCH I PACKED….phew! He said that I was the best mommy ever and he was so happy that God brought me to take care of him.

A beautiful blessing to my ears. This isn’t new. I’ve heard that more times than I can count. Not because I TALKED about what a great mom I am or all the things “I DID” for him somewhere in the past that I hold onto because I haven’t made any new memories for him. No. It’s because I AM one hell of a mom and I “DO” DAILY for that child. Not in years long gone. Not sort of sometimes. Not here and there. Not when convenient. I DO IT DAILY, CONSISTENTLY and have never stopped. And he knows it.

Now, I didn’t create him, we’ve established that. But one mother gets up every day to do these things. That mother is me. I used to love hearing about how I was just ‘faking’ it; just a wannabe mother and I could ‘share’ in the parenting but I would never be his mother. Because he wasn’t ‘mine’ and I couldn’t possibly know about the BOND he shared with someone else because he’d never share that with me.

Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.

Well, it’s like this. While these biomoms are busy shuffling their deck, we’re raising ‘their’ kid. While they sleep well thinking they’re throwing out aces that we can’t possibly compete with, we sleep well knowing we’re doing right by ‘THEIR’ kid and ‘THEIR’ kid is viewing US as MOMMY. And while they waste time talking about all the reasons they share an unbreakable bond with the child(ren), we’re making memories, the child’s growing up, and their words are falling on deaf ears.

I try not to spend too much time on the very real issue that having a child doesn’t simply make you a mother. But sometimes, just sometimes, it has to be said. I have and will continue to take the high road. And I will do so for this reason alone….

The day will NEVER come that my stepson says anything in any shape or form similar to this: “You kept me from my mother and you made me hate her and you lied and you didn’t take care of me and you didn’t allow me to have my own opinion. You didn’t offer to help me make her Mother’s Day, Birthday or Christmas cards. You didn’t try to encourage a healthy relationship between the two of us and you’ve left me empty”.

Those words? They’ll never come out of his mouth. He has his own opinion, the door is always open for him should he choose to go through it. Funny though, I keep the option available and he continues to refuse it. Perhaps because he’s perfectly content knowing I’m there like I say I will be. So toss your card biomoms, we call your bluff, because we have been, are currently, and will continue to be all in. Whether you’re betting or not.

Ladies, when biomom does this, it can and probably will bring you to your knees a time or two. How frustrating to feel like all your work is in vain? Everything you do and how hard you try is unraveled by simple words from someone else? And many times that someone else is doing HALF the work of you if not LESS?! Wow. Awful. Just awful.

Get over it.

The biology card is funny, treat it as such and leave it on the table for the next poor sap to use. It took me a long time to realize that what matters is how this kid feels, not what others think. Do you have a sibling? Do your parents love you equally? Do you have a mother in law? Were you blessed to have one as AMAZINGLY GLORIOUS as mine (father in law as well) who you love just like your own because they took you in as their own from the moment you set foot in their lives? It’s the same with kids. There’s room for bonds with EVERYONE. When she plays the biology card, laugh, and remember it’s only played when she is desperate. If she were doing HALF as well as you were, she wouldn’t have to be desperate 😉

Now, get up, shake it off, and get back to doing what you do best. Being one hell of a stepmom. You don’t have time for words that mean less than nothing. You have a child to raise, bonds to strengthen and memories to make. As a mature and responsible woman, you know how to give respect where it’s due. Respect her, as best you can and you must absolutely expect it in return. A stepmother takes on a thankless job and I will never EVER be disrespected after all I’ve done. If she wants to play nice, great! If she doesn’t this isn’t middle school. Let her go. Live a life that you can be proud of and one that child can emulate. He needs an EXAMPLE. Give him a phenomenal one. Keep your words positive and your heart open. The rest will work itself out as it always does.

And let her keep the aces. You’re the one going home with the jackpot.

An Awakening

Hello and welcome to the world of childless stepmothering. Isn’t that an oxymoron you say? No, actually, we simply aren’t divided into our own sector, as we should be. There are many women like me who have chosen to take on the role of mothering someone else’s children but have no biological children of their own. A task indeed. Of course, if you’re like me, you are not only a childless stepmom, but are also a CUSTODIAL childless stepmom, meaning you don’t share the mothering role with a biomom, you share full custody of this child (or children) with your husband. Yes. An even BIGGER and more COMPLICATED task. I’ve created this blog to accompany my facebook community page for ladies such as myself in the same life circumstance. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/ChildlessStepmoms.

You see, there is tons of support for stepmothers out there. ENDLESS resources in fact. Books, Magazines, BLOGS of course, etc etc. And BELIEVE me, I’ve waded through it all for years. Between reading constantly, family and individual therapy and just plain old soul searching, I’ve hunted for the ‘best way’ to be a stepmother like it’s my full time job. I have a full time job by the way, coupled with raising a child 24/7 and just plain living day to day with the demands of life, so you can imagine how exhausting this gets! I’ve searched endlessly for what makes this ‘work’ and just WHO am I supposed to BE now that my life is this way? After all, stepmothers are nothing new, it shouldn’t be that hard, right? But what makes us different? It is actually not that uncommon to be a woman, hurled from a life of being sassy young and independent one day into married with child(ren) the next. This is by our own choosing of course, but still, a hurling of sorts as it changes our world instantly in ways we would never imagine 🙂

However, as I mentioned, if it’s not that uncommon, you’d think there would be more resources available to us. We are FAR from the normal stepmother. Many stepmothers are divorced women themselves. They bring to a marriage their own children and blend accordingly with their new husbands. They understand the challenges of dealing with child custody, child support, emotional damages and drainages, expectations, and the overall exhaustion this causes for everyone. The ideas of what it means to have your own children and share them with another are simply a reality for them so they don’t have a learning curve really, they work to mesh their kids in with the kids of their partner. They just keep moving on without stopping for the minute details. Details like, ‘Am I supposed to be in court for this?’, ‘What should I say when they ask about their mom?’, ‘How do I discipline them effectively without overstepping my bounds?’ And these are just the tip of the iceberg. They breeze seamlessly through these issues because they are either dealing with it themselves currently, or have in the past. They make it look easy. I’m not suggesting stepmothers who bring with them their own children have it easy, no stepmother does. But undoubtedly, they suffer less with the confusion of where to even begin.

Myself, like many of you do not fall into that category. The complicatedness of a blended family was completely new and overwhelming to me. While I have a half brother, 18 years my senior, we weren’t raised together in these circumstances; we weren’t raised together at all in fact, due to the age difference. I never saw any interactions between his father and my mother so I certainly had no experience to draw from in that department. My biological parents are still married, 39 years and counting in fact. My  ideals about ‘step-families’ were miniscule. My experiences with children paled in comparison to what it took to raise one full time. I mean, I liked kids, I was good with them, and I wanted the best for my stepson, so I at least had that going for me. I nannied all throughout college and have small nieces who I had experiences to draw from. But it ended there. My friends didn’t have kids. Most still don’t. The time I spent with children was in an ’employee’ or ‘aunt’ capacity, both of which allowed me to return the kids at some point! Also, I only ever had girls to learn from. A stepson coming from a rocky background (to put it lightly) was far from a well behaved, reserved and gentle little girl! 🙂 He wanted to run, jump, play, and had a slew of behavioral and developmental issues that we had to get past. We worked tirelessly to get him to speak correctly, behave correctly, and he now, I’m proud to say, performs above his peers in a highly prestigious school district. This is thanks to the countless hours, energy, time and just plain love awarded to him by myself and my husband . That may sound cocky, but believe me friends, we couldn’t be more humbled by our experiences and the work it’s taken to get us here. It’s been a very rough road but we’re coming out stronger and better every single day.

“The Learning Curve” for a childless stepmom seems damn near endless! A stepmother bringing her own biological wee ones to the party at least has the experiences I mentioned previously. They don’t get so worked up by the ‘what ifs’ and they at least can live using the ‘in my experience’. I cannot stress how valuable that is to a normal stepmother and how debilitating it is to try and stepmother WITHOUT IT. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve questioned myself. Gone overboard. Gotten too angry. Gotten too sad. Gotten too worried. It all comes from a ‘good place’, as they say, but man is it counterproductive. A woman without her own biological children simply cannot understand the complexities of life raising a child, no matter how much time you spent with the stepchild-to-be prior to taking the plunge. That doesn’t mean I believe a woman without her own biokids is any less of a mother because we all know just getting pregnant doesn’t make you a mother (and THAT’S another blog for another time!), but in general it’s simply impossible to know all that it takes without living a life with them beforehand.

My husband took the admirable approach of waiting until he was sure we’d be together and right as a family prior to allowing me to spend time with my stepson. He’d not been perfect in his past, as no one is, and decided this time around he had only one shot to make it right. Though we dated for a long time, our time was spent alone as he didn’t want to bring different women in and out of his son’s life. I was 5 months out of a Master’s program, living alone, with no children. Spending my days engrossed in my career, and my evenings at the gym, out with friends, reading quietly in my apartment with my cat and perfectly content when I added a husband and then, 3 year old stepson into my life. Our lives seemed to fit together so well, and his son took to me immediately, a relationship that grew so strong so quickly there was no doubt I’d be marrying his father. After a while of spending time together, just the 3 of us, I did just that. At the time there were no apparent obstacles (a funny concept to look back on!) and I never dreamed that 3 years later I would be in this position today. A position of unknowns. A position of worry and concern, and, as it has been for over 2 years, a position as the sole mother figure for this child spending virtually all of his time in my care. Things changed seemingly overnight and I was waking daily to a lifestyle that left me questioning my abilities and never knowing what was coming around each corner. There was a time where I answered to me. I did what I wanted. When I wanted. How I wanted. Now I don’t take a breath without considering my stepson. And that is no exaggeration.

Don’t get me wrong, this new lifestyle has changed me in ways too intricate and wonderful to put into words. I have a wonderful support system, we live in a beautiful house in one of the greatest neighborhoods available to raise your children. We are blessed with jobs, each other, friends, family, and experiences. Daily experiences. This child has taken me in as his mother, and did so almost overnight. I swore I would never force him to call me “mommy” and I never did. I was in no position to replace anyone and I never made him choose. “My first name” was just fine with me, and truth be told looking back on it, I’m not sure I was yet comfortable with “mommy”. But that all changed after being married for about 6 months. A short stint as “Mommy My First Name” quickly turned to “Mommy” alone, and it has been ever since.

At times, this situation is so complicated it seems nearly impossible. A very strong, well educated and highly disciplined woman such as myself should be able to handle any of life’s obstacles, right? When I was alone, I made things happen. I got things done. I did not let people get in my way and I maintain that drive in all that I do. This seemed no different to me and I pushed myself further than I ever thought possible, and still do. To the onlooker I’m viewed as strong, special, and a great many other labels I’ve honestly failed to measure up to at times. But, as with any relationship, there are a plenty of times that giving up and being alone seems the easier path, and certainly the one of least resistance. I keep in mind the idea that when you feel like giving up, remember what kept you fighting in the first place. They are what keep me fighting. So I remain here, stepmother and wifey extraordinaire.

For now, I focus my energy on this new concept to me: Only recently have I gotten to the point where I accept that I’m BEHIND the learning curve, and work to live simply as I am. I once read along my stepmother researching travels, that I am extremely valuable just as I am. I will teach my child about ME. In this instance his biological mother and her experiences or influence mean nothing. I hold completed college degrees, a stable job, I am confident, kind, and I keep my word.I can also say I take care of him in greater detail than anyone in his life. I may not have the experience of 4am baby feedings, but for a 6 year old boy that’s truly irrelevant. I am able to teach him what a good wife, mother, and PERSON look like, simply by being me. I don’t have to be a supermom and ‘beat’ or ‘compare’ to anyone else. You, also, hold the same influence.

It’s my intention to make this blog reflective of the life of a childless stepmom – up and down like the wild rollercoaster that it is. I’m an extremely sarcastic individual and I use my sarcasm to get through many troubling times. I intend to laugh and be laughed at, it’s the only way. But as with the reality that comes with raising someone else’s children, there are challenges, and they need to be addressed as well, so this blog will be uncut, unedited, and my true feelings. Writing is a therapy for me, and we should all take the time to acknowledge our own thoughts and feelings. I intend to pull all the stops because I’ve seen the good, bad and the ugly in this situation and I don’t intend to sugarcoat. I’ve been in many different situations and my life has taken several different forms over the past few years. I’ve battled the biomom, I’ve battled my husband, I’ve battled my stepson and most importantly, I’ve battled myself. The only way to grow and change is to keep out of your comfort zone and I intend to grow throughout this process into the happiest, most faithful, honest, and genuine version of me I can be. So follow me as we awaken this largely unexplored beast…..the life of a childless stepmom.

 

begins