When you think about it, really think about it, stepmothers are pretty freaking amazing. These women take on responsibility for children who are not their own. Children who for the most part would do anything to NOT have a new stepparent in their world. These women accept their partner’s ex as a necessary part of their life and their home. Some of them even become friends with those exes. And, to top it off, they do it all for love. The love they have for their partner.
Their reward for all of this? To be honoured with the label that carries the most negative stereotype ever bestowed on a woman – with the potential exception of ‘jezebel’ – that of stepmother.
If you back away from all of the why-for and how-to drama and just have a look at what these courageous woman are doing for the loves of their lives, words like wicked, horrible and mean are not the ones that spring to mind. Instead thoughts like incredible, fabulous and fan-fricking-tactic start to crowd in. Quickly followed by ‘why in the world would anyone willingly take this on?’ and ‘could I ever love someone enough to do what these amazing ladies are choosing to do?’.
So today, on Mother’s Day, we are taking a moment to celebrate a group of kickass women who often get overlooked – the Stepmums.
Contemporary research has found that stepfamilies have strengths and benefits in their own right. Stepfamilies, particularly research-neglected stepmothers, have a lot to teach the world about developing positive and realistic familial relationships, about the art of communication and about acceptance. It takes sass, persistence and a whole lot of awesomeness to become a happy and successful stepmum.
Here are just a few of the fabulous traits that belong to the amazing stepmums we know and love:
Super Evolvers – The stepmother role is one of ambiguity. Unlike biological mothers, there are no norms or guidelines embedded in our society about how a stepmother should behave or what a stepmother should be or do. What happy and seasoned stepmums know is that this ambiguity allows for flexibility and opportunity. Flexibility to be themselves, flexibility to change, flexibility to evolve and opportunity to develop a role and place in their family that works for them, their partner and the children free of external expectations.
Terrific Negotiators – Every day is a day of compromise in the life of a stepmum. These women have to negotiate time, calendars, finances, holiday traditions, birthday celebrations, discipline, and loyalty binds with…well, a shitload of people. Their partner, his kids,their kids, the ‘our’ kids, his ex, their ex, the exes’ new partners, in-laws past and present and the list goes on and on. We haven’t met a happy stepmother yet who isn’t a queen negotiator and extraordinary influencer.
Epic Communicators – You don’t get very far in creating stepfamily success without having the gift of the gab. You need to know when to push it, how to sell it and when to shut it. Successful stepmums have this down pat and use their skills on a daily basis. Stepmums manage small chat with the woman who previously slept with their husband and birthed his children on the sidelines of their stepson’s soccer match, carry on a knowledgeable conversation about all things MineCraft in the car on the way home after the game and then translate huffs, puffs and slamming doors from their adolescent stepdaughter into an empathetic conversation. Not to mention maintaining a loving couple relationship. We did mention the words epic and communication, right?
Positive Mindsets – No, we aren’t talking about a pollyanna. Being a stepmum is absolutely not for the faint hearted or naïve. What we are talking about is hope, attitude and disposition. Having a positive attitude means everything to stepfamily life. No one can find the silver lining amongst the black clouds better than an experienced stepmum. In the face of rejection, these women offer continuous support and positive efforts to build civil relationships inside and outside their homes. They are the women that no matter what can find the light (and hope) at the end of the tunnel.
Muffled Leaders – There is a lot to be said for the quiet leaders of this world and in this category, successful stepmums take the cake. Stepmums silently lead their families without the attention or acknowledgement received by other matriarchs across the globe. They are the calm in the storm for their stepfamilies, they model the behaviour they want to see in each of their relationships and they listen AND hear what is being said within their family. Stepmothers lead their families from within and receive no recognition from without.
Unbelievable Endurance – These women endure. And, we mean ENDURE. The stories a stepmother can tell you about how her feelings had not only been neglected but completely stepped on in the complexity that comes with stepfamily life is astounding. These are the women who little by little through pure perseverance bring relationships together. These are the women that know every step forward no matter how small is a good thing. And, they keep on stepping on and on.
Massive Love – You’ll hear time and time again that stepfamilies are born of loss. And, it is true. Stepfamilies begin following separation, divorce or death. But, they also begin with love. No woman in her right mind is going to take on what comes with stepmotherhood just for fun. Women become stepmothers because of the love – the big, big love – they feel for their partners. And, they care and nurture their stepchildren because they are kind-hearted, loving adults.
It takes a special kind of woman to become a successful stepmum. That specialness is often overlooked and undervalued. So today, on Mother’s Day, if you know or see one of these amazing stepmum ladies take a moment to hug her and tell her why. Then tell us all about how full of wonderful she is in the comments below.