Shortly before we married, my husband and I relocated with my stepson to the Austin, Texas, area. It was a fresh start for our family and brought us even closer to my stepdaughter. When crisis hit our home only months later, my husband’s extended family and friends encircled us – but actually only made me feel more isolated. I was struggling to find my place in our stepfamily, and my parents and friends were now hours away in Dallas-Fort Worth.
One afternoon, a pair of my husband’s oldest friends approached me with a piece of pizza. Amidst all of the stress, I wasn’t eating well – and they had noticed. I felt grateful but awkward until one of them finally gathered me up in a hug and said, “You are not an island. We aren’t just his friends – we’re your friends too.” Those words were the salve I needed, and I have held onto them for years, calling them out in seasons where I again feel adrift.
It’s a Lonely Road
The stepmom journey can be lonely. This is my first marriage, and I don’t have any biological children. I didn’t have the support system in place (at least in the beginning) to navigate the highs and lows of stepfamily life. It can be very easy to convince yourself that no one can relate or understands what you are going through – and in reality, most don’t. My best advice would be to stop trying to find friends that know exactly what you are going through and instead surround yourself with people who can collectively walk with you through every circumstance. Don’t stress if your friend bank is at zero right now: my own life is a testament to how God connects you with the right people in the right season.
Stepmom Support. Let’s start with the most obvious: you need other stepmoms in your life. Although I encourage you to seek out stepmoms who are believers (being equally yoked isn’t just for marriage!), the first stepmoms I connected with were a secular group that met up for dinner once a week. It was such a relief: I had people. There were ugly parts of my heart in that first season as a stepmom, and one of the most precious things as a human is to be fully known and loved anyway. A word of advice: find a group with strong leadership that doesn’t allow mom-bashing…it’s okay to vent, but negativity without constructive advice isn’t healthy for anyone.
As you look for a local group, don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with other stepmoms via online support forums and social media. I am a childless stepmom of two, with two different biological mothers, and I am a decade younger than my husband. I connect with stepmoms on many different levels, but isn’t it nice to find someone who gets it? A few years ago, I met another young stepmom at a retreat with very similar situation. She lives across the country, but we stay in touch online and she makes the stepmom world seem a bit smaller.
Mom Friends. I cannot say this enough: you don’t have to be THE mom to be A mom. In my experience, many stepmoms willfully exclude themselves from mom groups or playdates to avoid awkward conversations. Contrary to how it might feel, picky eaters and teenagers with an attitude aren’t just a blended family issue! Don’t miss out on an opportunity to make new friends and learn a few parenting hacks (you know we need them!). For the non-custodial stepmoms, there’s also the added benefit of helping your stepkids make friends around their dad’s house as well.
“Ride or Die” Friends. I have a girlfriend that I could call at 2:00pm or 2:00am and she’d be there, no questions asked. She always, always has my back – even when I’m completely and utterly in the wrong (which she points out much later, from a safe distance). Funny enough, she’s not a stepmom – and she doesn’t need to be! You and I need friends that aren’t stepmoms. Although she’ll listen to whatever stepmomma drama I’ve got going on at the moment, more often than not we chat about anything but…it’s refreshing to just be a chick sometimes.
The Jesus Girl. We all need friends that point us back to the Savior. In my world, this friend is delightfully Southern – you should hear her call me by all three given names when I’ve gotten a bit too salty! I deeply value the people in my life that aren’t afraid to call me out and bring me back into alignment with the Word. As a stepmom, it can sometimes feel like God is silent about my circumstances, or I struggle to understand when He (seemingly) isn’t moving on my behalf. It is a gift when you have a believer friend who can intercede in prayer and “hear” God for you.
For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20
Stepmomma, you were designed for relationship. Your Creator filled you with so much love, care, compassion and wisdom to bring to the proverbial table. Don’t isolate yourself – it is so easy to do, and the Enemy would love nothing more.