Confessions of an Imperfect Step-Mom

I love my son. I love my step-sons. Can you see a difference between those two statements? Maybe if you heard me say them? Probably not, eh? That’s good, because there is a difference, and it’s hard to admit it and I don’t really want everyone to know that. But…here I am writing it, knowing full well that someone will read it.

My boys this spring. Can you tell which one is my crotch fruit?

Does that make me a terrible person? Because sometimes it makes me feel like an evil step-mother. Of course, I know I’m not alone with these feelings either. It’s hard to love another human being. Some parents even have a hard time learning to love their own biological spawn. When a woman gets pregnant, it is just assumed that she’ll bond with her baby right from the start and she’ll be enamored with the little gremlin, no matter what it does. Even their poop is supposed to be cute. We spend 10 months incubating a parasitic creature and then we have to spend many difficult hours (31 for me! Woop!) giving birth to a bloody, screaming mess. If women don’t always instantly fall in LOVE with that baby, the baby that stole our nutrients, sleep, and energy for 10 months, then how am I expected to fall in LOVE with a child that I didn’t have that horrific beautiful experience with?

Being a step-mom is tough. I really thought it would be easier. It’s been a while now, and I still don’t feel fully bonded with my step-sons.  I spend a lot of time with them. I try to be fair and impartial as often as possible. I give them snuggles and love. I feed and bathe and clothe them and am still wiping their butts, just like my own kid’s. So, what’s the problem? Why am I feeling more like Mommie Dearest than Mommy of the Year?

I'm not this scary, am I?

I have read that it can take many years for a blended family to finally get into a groove. the average I read was 7 years. Seven! I suppose I should be less hard on myself then, huh? If it takes most step-moms seven years to fall in love with their new kids, then I think I’m doing okay. I like them. Mostly.

That’s an improvement over last year, to be perfectly honest. I barely even liked them then. It’s the LOVE I need to work on. I do love them and care about them, but it’s a lot like when I worked at a daycare, and I got semi-attached to some of the kids there. I loved those kids. I cried when I had to quit and move away. I do love my step-kids more than that, but it’s kinda comparable. There’s a kind of disconnect with them still. It’s hard to explain, unless you’re a step-parent; and like I said, I’m worried about sounding like a horrible person, but it’s a chance I’ll take.

Yep. This was how I imagined it before I actually became a mother...

Before I had Lucas, my lifelong wish was to have 3 or more kids. Well, once Lucas was born I changed my tune real quick. That childhood dream got tossed out with the dirty diapers! I wanted no more children, thankyouverymuch! One was plenty. One was MORE than I could handle. There were times, in my darkest moments of PPD that I wished I didn’t even have him. I wished I could go back in time and leave The Douche before I had the chance to even get knocked up. I should have left when I stopped liking him. Hindsight is 20/20… Thank goodness I got through that mess somehow.

I have learned that we must be careful what we ask for, because the Universe is always listening. ALWAYS. I “asked” for lots of kids most of my life. I imagined myself; mother of 4. I thought it would be nice to have 3 boys and a girl. The girl being the youngest so the boys can look after her and be her bodyguards. That girl hasn’t happened yet, and probably never will, since the hubs is snipped ( HOLLA!).

...and my reality as a mom is more like this.

So here I am. 35 with 3 kids. Only one of them lived in my uterus for 10 months, so he’s the only one who’s attached to me via that invisible cord. He’s the only one of my kids whose smell makes me feel like I’m home and like everything is perfect in the world.
My other 2 kids still mainly feel like someone else’s kids that live in my house 10 months out of the year. They aren’t attached to me at all, and they mostly smell like poop sandwiches and alien babies.

I comfort them all when they’re sad, and give them hugs often, but the hubs’ boys feel different in my arms. Like hugging a distant relative. There’s no meshing going on like there is when I hold my Lucas. He’s like an extension of me, and they’re like an extension of um…someone else (because they are someone else’s).
BUT I love them, support them, and I’d never let any harm come to them. The LOVE should come eventually. Probably not in time to win the nomination for Mommy of the Year, but I’m hoping to at least get the prize for Step-Mom of the Week.

Me and my boys.

~Karin

About kantal113

I am a woman who just wants to share her crazy life with the rest of y’all. I am also a housekeeper, laundrette, babysitter, cook, teacher, caregiver, facilities manager, psychologist, and kisser-of-boo-boos. Better known as a mom.
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34 Responses to Confessions of an Imperfect Step-Mom

  1. Chris says:

    Great post, baby. And man, do I get it. No judgment here, even though it’s my kids you’re talking about. Seems like every time I write about parenting, it ends up like some sort of confessional. It’ll come. For both of us. I know it will. :)

  2. katy says:

    way to go mama! love the honestly. and to me you are mother of the year. xo

  3. kantal113 says:

    Oh heck, Katy, thank you! You’re too kind. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!
    I’m so not mother of the year, but I’ll take it. I have a long way to go to even qualify for the mother of the year award. Ask my kids. No wait- don’t. You never know what they’ll say; even my crotch fruit is likely to trash me if given the opportunity. ;)

  4. From a fellow step mum I can say I know exactly how you feel. I have three boys and four step daughters. Tow of them lived with us off and on for a number of years and the oldest two never lived with us.I have tried my best to make us all feel like one big happy family but still feel like I am held at arms length by the girls. I also have eight grandchildren only two of which are my biological grandys. The eldest grandchild refers to me by my name as his mother never taught him to call me Grandma which makes me very sad.
    There is no doubt that being part of a blended family takes a lot of work and it sounds like you are doing a great job. ust know that its not easy and you are not alone and that does not make you a terrible person.

    • kantal113 says:

      Holy cow, Caitlin! You have 7 kids? And here I am, complaining about 3. I feel silly. LOL Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I love to hear from other step-moms about this, because it’s hard to know whether or not it’s okay for me to feel what I feel for my step-sons. I knew, going into this that it would be tough, but I had no idea how tough. It’s been far more difficult than I ever imagined, but we’re making it work, and for the most part, we’re happy.
      Simon, the middle child but the youngest step-son, has called me Mommy since about 2 months after we moved in together. He started it sooner than that, and then one day he came to me and asked me if he could call me Mommy. I asked him why he wanted to call me Mommy, and he said because I take care of him like his mommy does. So, I told him I’d talk to his dad and his mom and see how they felt about it, and they were both fine with it.
      He’s called me Mommy for the most part ever since, but still calls me Karin on occasion.
      The older step-son, Finn, doesn’t speak, but he makes the sign for “K” and makes a K sound when trying to communicate with me or about me.
      It doesn’t matter what they call me, as long as they know that I love them and that I am doing my best.
      On a side note- how did you find my blog?

  5. Jenn Wilson says:

    Karin,
    I don’t think you have any worries.. You mention several times you love the boys… That there says alot… There are plenty of “mothers” who truly do not love their own biological children, and tell them such things on a regular basis, and are never condemed for such atrocities… Having grown up in such a household, I can tell you, you are doing a great job( Chris, too!) I can feel it in your writing… If you are there to care for his boys, nurture his boys, and feel the love for his boys, then you are on the correct path, and they will eventually become “your” boys, too! .. They may never 100% feel “like yours”, but as long as you aren’t beating them with wire hangers, I think it’ll come as close as possible with time! :) Don’t be hard on yourself…;)

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks, Jenn! I really appreciate your feedback. :) I do love them, but as I said, it’s not that fully unconditional love that I have for Lucas. It may not ever be that same kind of bond, but as long as they are my kids and it’s my job to take care of them and keep them safe, then I’ll just keep doing what I can.
      I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have the best home life when you were growing up. I have a hard time understanding parents who say hurtful things to their kids. My mom said things like that when we were growing up, but my mom is a bit slow, and I forgive her for that.
      I know I’ll never say anything like that to the boys, even if they make me angry.
      Thanks again for reading and commenting! :)

      • Jenn Wilson says:

        You’re welcome Karin… And please, don’t be sorry for me.. Having grown up in a house with a mother who is a combo of Mommy Dearest & the Mother/Grandmother from Flowers in the Attic, helped mold me into the woman I am today! I’d not trade a thing, for it showed me who I wanted NOT to be in life. You are a great woman & a great Mom.. Keep it up!

      • kantal113 says:

        Thank you again, Jenn! You’re too kind! :)

  6. None of us is mother-of-the-year. The fact that you are actively working to connect with the boys who didn’t actually come out of you speaks volumes for who you are.

    • kantal113 says:

      Thank you, becomingcliche! I am indeed actively working at it, and as tough as it is proving to be, I’m going to keep working at it until it clicks.
      I just hope they know that I love and care for them, despite my ability to fully open myself up. It may come in time; but if it doesn’t, I’m afraid they’ll be able to tell that I don’t feel the same towards them as I do Lucas. It’s all love, but as I’ve said before, it’s not the same connection.
      How’d you find me, btw? I checked out your blog and love it! You have a new follower in me. I hope you’ll come back and read more here, too! Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment. It does mean a lot to me! :)

  7. Joe'l says:

    Nice read Karin. I thought my husband and I were the only two people on earth who admitted and discuss this very topic. I can completely relate. It is love, for sure, but a “different” love. This is something only those in our situation can completely understand. Plus, add the dynamics of two ex-spouses that didn’t go away with the signing of divorce papers.

    Feel free to reach out to me anytime, it might be good therapy to speak honestly with someone else in the same situation.

    • kantal113 says:

      Thank you for reading, Joe’l! This topic has been a tricky one in our house, because we’re both so sensitive and get very defensive when it comes to our kids, as I’m sure most parents do. So, whenever something about this topic would come up, inevitably one of us would be feeling hurt that the other doesn’t love our kids enough. It’s been a really difficult thing to handle and to try and see it from the other’s perspective, but we’re learning that we’re not the only step-parents who feel this way.
      The response to this post if proof of that. :)
      The exes are another topic entirely. LOL! All joking aside though, it does mean a LOT to get comments like yours from other step-parents. It makes me feel less alone with my feelings, and it gives me hope that things will improve.
      Thank you so much for the kind words and offer to chat sometime. I might just take you up on that. ;)

  8. Kara says:

    I have to say, “crotch fruit” is the funniest term ever.

    Also, your honesty is great, and will definitely cause more people to be able to admit these same things to themselves and others.

    • kantal113 says:

      Haha! Thanks. I wish I could take credit for that term, but I learned it from Nikki of Moms Who Drink and Swear
      Thank you. I am nothing if not honest. Sometimes to a fault. I do hope this post can help more people feel like they can relate. It’s really hard trying to navigate the world of step-parenting alone. Thanks again for reading and commenting, Kara!

  9. I don’t know first hand what this feels like, but I do know I love your honesty. You make me see it through your eyes, and it’s not a bad thing at all. ♥

    • kantal113 says:

      Thank you, Deb. :) Like I said to Kara below, I am nothing if not honest. It gets me in trouble often, but in this case I think it’s a good thing.
      It really means a lot to get your input because I admire you so much as a person and a writer, so thank you again. I hope you’ll keep reading. :)

  10. Melonie says:

    Very honest.. I think your writing is refreshingly frank. I feel like when you write about something, I am gonna read something from a great point of view. One which I have no referece. Going from douche, to single mom, to step.. And ppd. Phew! Sounds like your doing the best you guys can without sacrificing your own relationship. :)
    Nice job.. Keep it up.

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Melonie! I really do appreciate your feedback. :) Things have indeed been incredibly tough and stressful for me the last 4 years or so, but they’re finally calming down, now that I am where I’m supposed to be. I am married to the man of my dreams, and we have 3 awesome, crazy kids. We have a home and everything we need. I just need to get better at being a step-mom, and I do know that will come in time.
      Thank you again! I hope you’ll keep reading!

  11. Mia says:

    I have to have my husband read this! I have 4 girls 2 with him. He says he cares deeply about his step daughter but he will tell me he just can’t explain it , he feels a distance from them. He has been in thier lives since they were 6 and 4 , they are now 18 and 16. Dad was a maybe sometimes dad who sees the 18 yr old and refuses to speak to the 16 yr old who in turn is acting out in horrible ways. He has a hard time with her behavior and says I think it would be diffrent if she were mine. I gently remind him if she were his she would not act this way. But he has spoken many times he feels just like you.

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Mia! Sorry it has taken me a few days to respond to your comment, but the holiday took me away from the internet, which is a good thing. :) The hubs and Lucas were home, so my attention was rightly focused elsewhere.
      I am glad you could find something helpful in my little post. I am quite blown away by the response to it, really. I write to get my thoughts out. It’s more like journaling for me than anything else.
      Being a step-parent is tough. Even tougher than just being a parent, and it’s because of that “distance”. Even if we try not to see or feel it, it’s still there, and I think no matter how long we’re in our step-kids lives, there’s probably always a disconnect there. Biology is stronger than I used to believe.
      As long as your husband is making himself available to those girls, then he’s doing alright; but by refusing to speak to the 16 year old, I believe he’s making a pretty terrible mistake. How can he say she’s not his? He’s been her step-father for 12 years you say? If that is the case, then she is indeed the result of his parenting, and that makes her just as much his as she is yours. How much time have your kids spent with their bio-father?
      Sounds like a tough situation. I hope it resolves itself soon. *hugs* Thanks again for reading! Oh, btw- how did you find my blog?

  12. I’m in awe that you’re this aware of your own emotions, and have the guts to be this honest with yourself and in public. I’m pretty sure you’re not alone in this, even though I have no kids of my own or step-children.

    You get major props for trying, and I’m sure the love will come with time. (and only liars say they don’t have favourites).

    Thank you for sharing!

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, nascentnovelist, and for your kind words. :) I’ve always been honest, even to a fault, and I can’t be anything but.
      It gets me in trouble often, but this time it seems to have resonated with a lot of people, and in turn , it has made me feel less horrible about my feelings.
      The LOVE slowly snakes it’s way into my icy heart. LOL!
      My hubs’ boys can be little sweeties, and it’s tough not to love our oldest, Finn. He has special needs, and I’d have to be a complete jerk to not care about him and love him. It’s just really hard, very often, and it takes its toll on me and my hubs. I’ve honestly had the hardest time with the middle one, Simon. He and my Lucas are best buddies 50% of the time, and each others arch nemesis the other 50%. It’s hard to be impartial when it’s Lucas who is crying because of something Simon did or said to him. My husband has the same problem, but the opposite.
      Thank you again for reading! How did you find me?

      • I found you through Deb (The Monster in your closet).
        Thanks for following my blog! I hope I write something that will resonate with you as well as this post did with me.

      • kantal113 says:

        Well, I plan on stalking you and catching up on your posts! I’m sure something will hit me! I’m so glad you found me through Deb! She’s incredible and such a wonderful person! :) Thank you again for reading. It truly does mean a lot to me.

  13. Mary C says:

    You are doing a great job and are a great mom to our grandsons. It makes me wonder about what love really is. I think it is too intangible to know if you actually have it or not: Too complex to be able to recognize it. You wrote this very well!!

    • kantal113 says:

      Thank you, Mary. It means a lot to me that you think I’m doing well. I do love the boys very much, and I’m glad you can read this with an open mind. Some people would do otherwise.
      This is something that Chris and I have been struggling with since we moved in together last year. Somehow, he had this expectation that we’d just fall in love with each other’s kids because we are so in love and our kids are a part of us.
      If only it were that simple! But I know he’s trying and he knows I’m trying, and I suppose that’s all we can do.
      We had a short conversation with Colleen about this very topic the one time she was here with the boys. We hung out at their hotel and had a drink and talked about the blended family dynamic. It was a good conversation.
      It’s so wonderful that most of the people involved are so open and understanding and supportive of things. With all of you on our side, we’ll make this blended family work, and not only will it work, it will shine! Thank you again!

  14. Our family knows the emotions of step-parenthood and trying to blend seamlessly. It is hard. It takes time. But it seems like you are putting in so much effort and love. Which is a lot more than many, many other people every try to do.

    • kantal113 says:

      Oh heavens. Let me first say how awesome it is to check my blog for new comments, thinking I’m wasting my time, only to find out that you were here and read my stuff and even took the time to comment. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for reading and commenting on my wee-baby blog!
      Phew. Okay. I’m seriously trying not to be star struck, but you are just too cool for school. It is so amazing to have you here.

      Being a step-mom stinks. I initially put my all into it, and got beaten down really quickly that first few months. My hubs’ kids are difficult, and VERY different from mine, who has his own set of difficulties. Put them all together, and it’s almost too much to handle.
      Then they went to their mom’s house for the summer, and I dreaded their return, but when they got home, it seemed as if things changed somehow. It was almost a night and day difference from last year. I rejoiced and drank a little less wine than I had last year.
      Here we are 4 months later, and I am ready to jump ship again. That peaceful change was short-lived. I’m trying, but it’s getting more and more difficult, and it’s driving a wedge between Chris(the hubs) and I. Not cool. I must carry on though.
      *sigh*
      I don’t think I realized that you had a blended family. Good to know. It makes me like you even more. :) Thank you again, SO MUCH, for taking the time to read and comment. I do hope you’ll visit again!

  15. r&r says:

    i love your honesty. and it seems to me like you are being the best mom and step mom that you can be. :)

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks, r&r! I am trying. Most days it feels like I’m a total failure though. Not just at step-parenting, but at pretty much everything I do. Today has been one of those days. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you’ll check back again. I post sporadically, but maybe I’mm somehow manage to find the motivation I’ve been dreaming of and start writing daily. (yeah right)
      Happy holidays.

  16. Karin, Thanks so much for the introduction to Chris. I appreciate it. I hope your holidays were fabulous. (My extended family was in town and they ran me ragged. haha)

    xx, Elizabeth

    • kantal113 says:

      Sorry for the delay in my response, Elizabeth. I’ve been away from the blog for a while. I am so glad to have introduced your blog to Chris. I think you are incredibly heartfelt and hilarious, and can’t understand why you don’t have more followers! Our holidays were great, thanks! We went on our honeymoon in Florida. It was glorious. Hope your family didn’t wear you down too much! Thank you again for taking the time out to read my fledgling blog!

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