I think one of the hardest lessons to learn as a step-mom is staying in the background. It isn’t really my personality to do that. I am the kind of bio-parent that leads the team feed, helps with fund-raising, organizes car pools, etc. I always knew what was going on with my bio-kids’ activities, schedules, grades, etc.
Being a step-mom for me, because of my personality, is difficult. Instead of taking the lead, I have to take the back seat. I am not the driver, I am the passenger. I am trying to learn what is the best time to be the passenger and what is an alright time to take the lead.
This past weekend my two step-daughters (ages 13 & 15) were in their annual dance recital. This is a weekend of flurried activity of costumes, makeup, hair, pictures, congratulations flowers, invitations to family members, the list is endless! My bio-daughter never really got into the dance community, she was more of a sports girl, not a dance girl. So, this was a new experience for me and I was very excited to be a part of it when I married my husband. (his girls were 7 & 9 when we got married) However, being the involved bio-mom, I know that I have to let their bio-mom take the lead with these kinds of things. She should be the one doing their makeup & hair, on the committee to pick out costumes, etc. I wanted to allow her to do all that, as it is her right as their Mother. I have been in the back drop on these weekends for a few years now, and I am o.k. with that, it is my role and I have accepted it.
Very shortly after we were married, I found out that their bio-mom is not like me at all. She is more the follower than the leader. She isn’t on committees, or involved in fundraisers. It just isn’t her personality. In fact, to do hair and makeup is something she would rather not do either. It became a chore for her, rather than a privilege, a privilege that I would have given my right arm for!
The miracle happened this past year. Bethany, the oldest of my husband’s two daughters, came to me and asked ME to do her hair for her dance recital. I was flabbergasted and overjoyed all at the same time. I think I must have done pretty well because then she asked me to do her makeup too! Wow! This was awesome – Bethany is very quiet and shy, so this was amazing! At the end of the long weekend with all the hair and makeup done for several shows, I thanked Bethany for asking me to help her and told her it meant a lot to me to be a small part of such a huge weekend for her. She didn’t really respond, being quiet I don’t always get much of a response from her, but that is alright. She asked me to do her hair and makeup again this year – that was all the response I needed.
I think the lesson for me was that sometimes the kids will help us know our role. Sometimes we may have to just wait and let them take the lead and see where they take us. That can be difficult, but I think it is necessary. A trust needs to be built up, a relationship needs to take shape. It is something that can’t be forced, it takes time. We need to give it time. Sometimes that background may become the foreground.
Kay Berg is a bio mom of two children. Annie is 19, and Brad is 18. She is also step-mom to Bethany, 15, and Meagan 13. She has been married to her husband, Rod for almost 6 years. She is the Director of Religious Education, and Youth Minister at a Catholic church in Northern Wisconsin. Kay and Rod are learning how to blend their family on a daily basis, sometimes it goes well and sometimes not. But each day is a new day to learn and grow.