My Struggle as a Stepmum


    Being a mum is one of the hardest jobs I have every encountered.  No amount of books can tell you about the real exhaustion that comes from continuous lack of sleep, struggles of breast feeding, the uncertainty to why your child is crying and struggles to maintain a household.   No matter the struggle, at the end of the day I am always reminded when I look into my girls eyes at how far we have come.


    However, my life as a parent did not start when I had the girls.  I am a step parent and have been for nearly 5 years to a beautiful amazing nearly 9 year old boy. I love this child and he is a part of our family but in the last couple of years I have struggled to see him in the same light as my biological children and recently have become emotionally detached to him and often get really frustrated with the amount of travel/expenses that we as a family have to endure for one child that spends such a short amount of time with us.

    I am lucky enough to have a pretty amazing bond with my step son - let’s call him K.  If you met us in public you would probably dismiss him as my own son as he is always attached to me.  There is a bond however that I do not have with K.  It wasn't until I experienced this bond for myself that I realised the difference in love you have for you biological child to a step child.  Don't get me wrong we have a great bond but it is different.  I would still give my life for him but I definitely know that there is a difference.


    K lives with us in a shared cared arrangement where we have him for 4 nights a fortnight.  We live approx 20km from his mother’s house and around 35km from his school.  We had to fight for this shared care arrangement and this did cost our family close to $100,000 in court costs over a 2 year period.  This is a lot of money to pay to have rights to your child and unfortunately is becoming a very common occurrence in split families.  K does not know that we had to fight for him and although he knows that the judge made the rule of who he lives with when, he has no clue to the cost to both parents.


    The cost of going to court didn't really affect us emotionally as it was something we had to do but what really annoys me is child support.  Child Support is there to make sure that a child is getting all the proper things in life when a family splits.  In my honest opinion Child support is not a fair system.   The mother is able to drop work dramatically and the Father's child support will be increased but if The Fathers wife has to drop work for unpaid maternity leave this is not calculated.   When I had two children my income was on hold for 9 months and we did not qualify for family tax benefits.  With my income of $45,000 per annum unpaid his child support was reduced by a small $80 per month because children under 2 years of age are not expected to cost much.

    Child Support also does not make sure that the money is actually being used for the benefits it is there for such as school costs, clothing and food.  There are a lot of things that we pay for that really is not our responsibility but we do this to make sure that he is looked after.  When I returned to work early due to financial circumstances, I felt like I had leave my two children before I was emotionally ready, to pay for a child that was not legally mine.  This might sound a little selfish but this is what my demons were dealing with.  Now with our last child on the way, this is constantly on my mind that the medical costs for K are rising to around $500 per month (we pay) and my income is not going to be there to support this forever rising cost.  We have not had a holiday (longer than 3 days - camping) since 2012 but I have to endure the details of quarterly holidays that K goes on with him mum’s family.  My children do not get to experience any of these fantastic holidays. 


    If you google "struggles with step parenting" you will see articles from Dr Phil, Oprah etc giving advice on what should and shouldn't be a task of a step parent but there are not many articles that discuss how a stepparent may feel or what it is like having to deal with your step sisters and brothers. 


    During K's time with us, my biological children (both under 2.5 years old) spend a large amount of time on the road doing pick-ups and medical appointments and the older K is getting the more school and sporting events that we are expected to attend.  For example - this last fortnight we have had K for a total of 8 nights (due to a last minute change to fit in a sporting event).  On the Thursdays my girls went to bed at 12-2 then were rushed into the car to be able to drive the 40km to pick up K from school.  We then had to drive to him medical appointment and wait in the car for 45 mins (location is no way toddler friendly and they do not have room for a double pram down the corridor). That is a total of 4 hours in a car and 2 hours sleeping = 6 hours of being dormant.  On the Friday we endure the school pickup and drop off twice (3 hours driving).  That is a total of 14 hours this last fortnight that my two children spent in the car.   It wasn't too bad when the girls were younger because they would nap during this time but now that they are on one nap and soon to be no naps this travel is starting to affect me.  This is by no means my step sons fault in any way but it is extremely hard to differentiate between the two. 


    It takes K two days to settle into our lifestyle at our home including remembering the rules that are in our house.  Until I had other children this was not as much of an issue.   Once toddlers learn something new it is hard to explain to them that we do not do that in our house (especially if they have seen their sibling do it).  For example - K taught his sisters to say "SHUT UP....... Persons name".  This isn't said in a mean way at all.  They go up to the other person and yell ".... SHUT UP".  We try to teach our children respect and this is disrespectful in our household.  It is very hard to explain to a 2 year old that this is not funny and that we don't tell people to SHUT UP.      


    This blog is going to make me sound like a selfish person.  I am so grateful for being able to spend time with my step son and love watching him playing with both his dad and his sisters.  There is always so much emphasis put on the child that has to share their life between two families but no one ever really looks into how step parent feel or the other children involved. Being a step parent is so complicated and unfortunately everyone involved in blended families is affected.   To all you step parents out there whether you feel the same as me or not, 


    "You are doing a fantastic job and truly are a Super Parent not a step parent"  Embrace every day you get to spend with any of your children and try to forget about the small things that I have discussed above as these truly can ruin your feelings towards your step child whether you mean it or not. 


    By – anonymous.(As this is a very personal confession of a step parent, this parent has asked to remain anonymous).

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  • sophia sophia
    sophia sophia This page gives you a lot of information. Thank you!
    10 July 2019
  • judymith5
    5 August 2019