Welcome back lovelies!
I have a confession to make, I was called the babysitter not that long ago and when I got home I had a very private mini-rant with my husband. I’m sorry hubs, but it was needed.
What happened that day has been on my mind for a while. For whatever reason I just can't shake this nasty feeling I have about the whole situation.
One thing I notice is that people will always show some amount of interest in your life, whether it’s your best friend, a co-worker or an acquaintance. I experienced this ‘showing of interest’ during a meeting I recently attended.
At that time, my stepkids were with us. Typically my husband works a rotation of 4 weeks on and 4 weeks off. When he’s not at work we have the kids and he's in full-time dad mode. However, this particular stint home, he was working another full-time job. So, with him away for most of the day, I was left doing almost everything for the kids; making their lunches, getting them ready for school, soccer, tutor, piano, cooking dinners and organizing everything else at home while juggling my own work. I’m sure you get the gist, it’s just part of life.
I answered her question without going into too many details. As I was wrapping up she turns to the next person in our meeting and says 'So, what has been going on in your life?
Now, the next part still plays out in slow motion as I hear the words:
'I know what Gina’s been doing. She's been babysitting.'
And whatever else she says after that is muted, gone and not relevant to me anymore. I just see her lips moving very slowly while I try to hold back the overwhelming feeling of disappointment and brush as what was said.
At home, I realized it had been on my mind all day and couldn’t let it go. Is this the general perception people have of stepmoms? Because this isn’t the first time someone has said something like this to me.
Am I just babysitting my own stepkids?
Heck no, I'm not just the babysitter! This is my life. I’m their stepmom. I married a man with kids and made a commitment and promise to everyone involved. They are as much a part of my life as he is, and I am as much a part of their lives as they are mine. It's not something I walk into whenever the kids need a babysitter. I don't get paid for it afterward either, although that would be pretty awesome.
I doubt the same thing would have been said about a bio-mom. 'Oh, she’s just babysitting her own kids.'
Society dictates in many ways how life should be. School, university, career, meet the love of your life, get married, start a family and live happily ever after (something like that, right?) I was going down the same path until I met a single, divorced dad with 2 kids.
My life changed instantly and in a good way. It’s just so disheartening to see the disappointment, confusion or downright dismissal on someone's face when they ask you ‘Do you have kids?’ and your answer is ‘Yes, I’m a stepmom to 2 boys.’ This answer is basically a cue to kill the conversation or to get bombarded with questions about blended family life and what the ex-wife is like.
I’ll make another confession.
Every once in awhile I do not feel like getting into a conversation about my stepmom life or telling someone I’m a stepmom. So when someone asks me if I have any kids, then yes, yes I do have kids and I’ll gladly have a conversation about my 2 blond boys who don’t look anything like me, just to avoid the questions about the ex-wife or stepmom life.
Considering that stepfamilies are basically the new normal and divorce rates for second marriage involving kids are way too high (isn’t that crazy and not that surprising at the same time?). I think it’s fairly safe to say that there are many stepmoms and stepdads out there, investing time and love in their stepkids who dislike being called the babysitter.
So please reconsider your choice of words the next time you’re speaking with a stepmom or stepdad. Show them some support, compassion and understanding. We can all use it.