No stepmom likes to think of herself as bitter, angry, or resentful. No stepmom likes the idea of other people seeing her in that light either.
A lot of people have referred to me as, “the best stepmom in the world,” or, “the perfect stepmom.” Maybe I am all of those things in my best moments. But it doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near perfect. In fact, I spent many years repressing the anger and resentment I felt when I probably should have been talking to someone about it.
I have been a resentful stepmom. Very resentful.
I have resented people. I have resented circumstances. I have even resented my own decisions over the years. I have been, in my own mind, astonishingly imperfect.
Being a full-time stepmom to a young teenager who does not have their mother around is probably the hardest thing I have ever done so far. Being a stepmom to a child who has had their heart smashed into pieces is not something anyone would ever wish to take on. Trying to be the “perfect” stepmom in these circumstances is not only impossible — it’s foolish.
There is no magic wand to fix the things you didn’t break. There are no meaningful words that can change the past. There is no escape from the inevitable pain, fear, and resentment that comes with step-parenting. Step-parenting can be ugly and it can be mean. And sometimes the meanest thing about it are the words inside your own head.
The thoughts that go through my mind when I see my stepchild hurting are not pretty. They are not kind. They are sometimes quite cruel. I have felt intense rage over situations regarding my stepchild. I have felt like a mama bear ready to attack over these situations.
Most of us stepmoms out here are trying incredibly hard to stay positive, focused, and calm. Most of us want to build strong, cohesive family units. I even write about how to do this in an effort to help other stepmoms get through their own rough patches.
But when it comes to the love I feel for my own stepchild, sometimes I become the most imperfect version of what I want to be as a step-parent. Sometimes I don’t even take my own advice. I flail. I rage. I resent.
But then I get it back together because I remember WHO this is really about. This is about my beautiful stepchild who is my family, my everything. This is not about how well I can control my emotions in any given moment or about how perfect other people think I am just because I am raising someone else’s child.
Just like motherhood, this stepmom thing is a journey of absolute imperfection. It breathes new life into old demons you tried to repress and sometimes it can make you feel like a monster in your own mind.
Bitterness and resentment are roads to nowhere. We all know this. But sometimes we need to take a walk down those roads and wallow in it for a bit just to feel how pointless those emotions really are. Just to gather enough strength to turn around and set ourselves straight.
I am not a perfect stepmom. I’m not a perfect mom, wife, or person either. But I have learned how to live with the unpleasant feelings of resentment in a more manageable way. You can’t ever erase uncomfortable feelings. You can, however, acknowledge them, learn from them, and allow them to guide you to a place where things can get better.
Michelle Zunter is a Canadian-turned-American living, loving, & writing in California. You can read Michelle’s lifestyle blogs about love, sex, relationships, marriage, divorce, parenting, step-parenting & much more at The Pondering Nook. You can also listen to Michelle co-hosting at The Broad’s Way Podcast discussing similar topics.