A Healthy Stepmother . . . Marries With Eyes Wide Open 

You knew what you were getting in for. You knew his ex was obsessed with controlling his house. You knew she felt bad for not caring for the kids and leaving them with you, enough that she made a scene to distract from the truth. You knew she had taken him to court once before. 

You also knew only the younger two kids were crazy about you. The older ones were standoffish and silent. 

Most of all, you knew you were crazy about this man who held your hand and said “I do” while he smiled into your eyes. 

To assume your innocence is to disempower you. To assume you were completely blinded is to discredit your intellect. You knew remarriage with children was going to be tough. 

You didn’t know how tough. 

You didn’t realize how strongly the mythology and cultural hatred of stepmothers would seep into your home and cover every surface with its sticky and cloying clutches. You didn’t know you’d never be able to move within your life without certain assumptions being made about you. 

You didn’t know no one would get to know you before they spread rumors about your opinions and behaviors. You didn’t know you needed a press agent. 


Most of all, you didn’t know marrying a man with children would be like a crash course on politics and mediation. You could not know how deeply your personal self would be negated nor the degree to which you didn’t matter. 

You couldn’t know until you knew. And it would take you some months, if not years to awaken to the knowing and understanding. 

You’d arise one day and go about your business and realize the extent of your patience. You’d find it in you to one more time to step away from confrontation and the possibility of leaving altogether.

You’d find out how much confidence you had in yourself when no one else showed any in you. You’d find out how tolerant you were and how able to stand in a strange culture without feeling invisible. 

You’d find out that you didn’t have to prove anything and that your stepchild thinking he or she made decisions was not the same as that child actually making them. You’d find out your willingness to make space for someone else and the difference between that and disappearing. 

If you are marrying or already married to a man with children, the gift available to you is to work with yourself and enter into your most spiritual existence, ever. To stay still, inside your own pain and suffering until the core of it shifts and you can see another way to live within it and not be it. Know you will find a way that works for you and not just for everyone else. 

This gift of seeing and being self, of respecting self, which I so highly recommend you take, has the potential to be liberating in a way nothing has liberated you before. 

If your energy goes into this process of growing awareness of who you are and what you bring to life, including this marriage, then you can benefit from the richness and live many happy years with this husband of yours with all the skills you’ll need to do anything. And I do mean anything. 

4 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . Marries With Eyes Wide Open 

  1. Yes – to all of it! And especially the 2nd to last paragraph! The hardest journey of my life – and the most liberating when I truly started to understand the difference between self and family…how they intersect AND how they do not and cannot. :). I always love your writing – thanks for sharing!

    • Ahhh, you do get it! Thank you for sharing that and for reading. I’ll confess, I working on a book of tales for stepmothers, but sorely tempted to write my own beginners guide to the institution. In the meantime, will keep offering up these musings. Best to you.

  2. As always, a thoughtful post. The whole topic of “self” get so twisty and weird when you have stephchildren and then also children of your own, with this spouse. It’s like the loss of self comes so quickly when you have babies (esp in the first years), and then that gets mixed up with the loss of self with his children, and then it’s hard to separate and save and find your own sense of self again. Hard to separate from ‘the family’ when part of the blended family is not blended, for you. You should write a guide when you finish the book! 🙂 I wish I’d had your blog 19 years ago..

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