Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms wrote in, Cathryn replied​.
Cathryn's Mailbox
A- I love my partner, but I also wish his daughter didn't exist! (8/11)

A-About ready to throw in the towel! (4/12)

A-About to become a stepparent and am terrified!(5/12)

A-Are you in the mood for Stepmom's Pep Talk-read this! (3/15)

A-Clarifying Mission Statement for SMOMS. (11/11)

A-Do I love my stepson? Sometimes I don't know.(8/12)

A-Don't know where I went wrong. Please help me!(6/12)

A-Ever Feel Like Leaving? (5/11)

A-Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help! (12/13)

A-Feeling like the enemy in my own house. Yes I have a teen stepdaughter.(5/15)

A-From BB: Self-awareness can hurt...why is that? (10/12)

A-Holiday traditions? Some ideas from sister SMOMS. (11/113)

A-How can I find the right balance & boundaries? (4/12)

A-How do I deal with all the hurt and anger? (1/12)

A-How to let go of the single life versus being stepmom?(8/15)

A-How to step back in after stepping out? (8/12)

A-I need some better coping skills and I'm open to new ideas.(7/16)

A-Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough. (2/16)

A-It's too much work- I need help from my partner & Family!(7/12)

A-Not a step mom yet but need some guidance (7/12)

A-Right now, I HATE being a Stepmom!!! (10/13)

A-Self-Pity-an emotional numbing,energy draining tactic-find a new option. (7/15)

A-What about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help! (10/11)

A-What are reasonable expectations? (3/11)

A-When to call it quits? What to do? (3/12)

A-Why am I so jealous? What about my irrational fears? 7/15)

A-Why don't I matter in this stepfamily? (12/11)

B-Dealing with SD at my young age (7/15)

B-Feeling resentment towards my stepson and can't connect with him.(2/16)

B-How can I handle my stepdaughter(8) who loves negative attention? (8/12)

B-How do I deal with a bio-mom who doesn't want to get along with me? (9/13)

B-How do I handle my feelings when my stepchild stops saying I love you? (4/16)

B-How do I help her understand chores/rules don't mean that I don’t love her?(1/12)

B-How to help my stepson, when his mom encourages him to lie to us? (10/11)

B-How to make the transition between homes easier for stepkids?(12/17)

B-I am frustrated with my stepkids 99% of the time...help! (5/14)

B-I feel left out and invisible with grown SDs (4/12)

B-I have issues with my teenage stepdaughter and the car...Ugh! (4/12)

B-I have two stepkids I can't control.(9/11)

B-I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson. (6/12)

B-I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter (5/12)

B-I'm at the end of my tether... Stepchildren don't seem to like me. (12/11)

B-It feels like my 5-year old stepson throws his mom in my face! Help! (10/11)

B-Just jealous or maybe time to leave? (6/11)

B-My 3 yr old stepson seems to be crying all the time!(9/12)

B-My husband stays at his mothers when he has his daughter for the night. (10/12)

B-My stepdaughter chooses her bio-mom for school play-it upsets me. (6/11)

B-My stepkids don't recognize how much their dad does for them. (6/11)

B-Struggling w/ a jealous stepdaughter (3/12)

B-What to do about disrespectful 20 yr/old stepson? (4/11)

B-When your stepkids are away on Christmas Day. (12/12)

B-Why do things my stepkids say bother me so much? (11/11)

B-Why does my stepson idolize his bio-mom? (4/12)

B-Why does my stepson's rudeness bother me so much? (12/11)

C-Bio-mom assaulted me & told stepkids it was the other way around. (8/11)

C-Bio-mom back & I'm hurt by her impact-what can I do? (8/11)

C-Bio-mom doesn't want her kids, then does-what's going on? (8/11)

C-Bio-mom doesn't want me present at any of my skids school events.(8/15)

C-Bio-mom is badmouthing me to my stepson & he tells me and my kids.(6/16)

C-Bio-mom used me, I drew a line, she’s angry--now what? (9/11)

C-How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices? (6/11)

C-How to deal when bio-mom returns into the picture. (1/16)

C-How to handle bio-mom who keeps asking for more $$$? (9/12)

C-No matter what I do, bio-mom still hostile. I feel hopeless and scared.(3/17)

C-What to do when bio-mom turns my stepdaughter against me? (9/16)

C-When bio-mom sends stuff from life w/your partner-what to do? (5/11)

D-How do I cope w/DH's need for perfect family? I'm more realistic. (4/12)

D-Husband still has divorce guilt and his kids are in their 30’s--ugh! (10/14)

D-I think the problem is my partner. Why is he fighting my efforts?(6/15)

D-My partner doesn't understand why my feelings are hurt. (7/11)

D-My partner feels divorce guilt so lets his ex interrupt outlives (6/18)

D-My partner w/3 bio-kids is not trying to bond w/ my 2 kids.(8/11)

D-Partner sets no Boundaries for SD20-what to do? (8/11)

E-A bio-mom worried about her daughter's new Stepmom. Will we help? (2/12)

E-Bio-mom is online stalking and has issues w/ pictures of stepkids. (6/12)

E-Dealing w/ Deceased Bio Mom's Extended Family (5/12)

E-Dealing w/ unkind stepkids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship? (2/12)

E-Help w/situation that dad, biomom & stepkids all agree on but not me! (3/11)

E-How do I change my attitude towards my new inherited family? (4/12)

E-How do I stop SD from lying to me, DH, BM, and BM's boyfriend? (8/12)

E-How to deal with a lying stepdaughter, her bio-mom & ex-stepmom? (1/12)

E-I feel jealous of my partner's ex & unheard by my partner. (10/11)

E-I want my bed back! (5/11)

E-Jealous of sister-in-law and my stepkids. What can I do? (8/12)

E-My partner found out he has a daughter-I feel terrible (10/12)

E-Stubborn partner and sexually active teenage SS (8/12)

E-Transitions and Coparenting Struggles (3/16)

E-Trouble coping w/BF's newborn and his ex-spouse. (7/12)

E-What boundaries do I need to set with husband and stepdaughter? (11/11)

E-When BM causes drama, how to preserve my relationship w/ stepkids?(6/12)

C-How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices? (6/11)
Some Background:

I’m a young smom started when I was 19 and am now 21. I began a relationship with DH when BM was pregnant with their 2nd son, which I understand has all ready created an awkward situation. DH and I were in a relationship and living together for 7 months before she wanted to meet me. She has never seemed to like me and does not seem to face the fact of how much my parents and I do for her sons. Now DH and I our getting married next year and have a great relationships with both boys, even though we only get them every weekend (she has full custody but we have never been to court).

NOW THE PROBLEM
Recently we started to put OSS into swimming lessons every weekend that were pre-paid. First when we told her we did this she didn’t seem to be happy, didn’t thank us.. considering she said she was going to but couldn't afford, a thanks would have been nice (we do pay child support, but she seems to spend the money on things like nails, new car, laptop etc.)
Then one weekend she says he can not make his next swimming lesson because they are going camping, he failed the lesson because of this and when we told her she did not seem to care at all. She always says "oh well I have plans with the boys so you can not have them"... WE HAD PREPAID PLANS!!! AHHH!!

BM started dating a new man, with 3 kids.. and now she and the boys are spending weeks at a time at his 2 bedroom apartment! Dh and I do not think this is right and have told BM this because their life is already all over the place with two homes.. it doesn’t need to be 3! She said it was not a big deal!! AND to top if off a couple days out of the week when all 5 kids are there they sleep in the same BED! We do not mind her moving in with her new man but at least make it so it is their home and they all have separate beds and at least 3 per room. Her car does not work so now she, her man and 5 kids all have to drive around in a 6 person truck.. and SS5 has to share a seat and not be in his car seat!! WHICH IS ILLEGAL! every time we bring stuff up to her she says it’s not true or not a big deal!! I CANT TAKE IT.. DOESN’T SHE CARE ABOUT THE WELFARE OF HER SONS! She doesn’t help SS5 with getting ready for kindergarden.. and the 15 month old still doesn’t walk or know how to say any words!

When DH gets mad at her she says we can not have the boys! I’m so afraid she will take them away from us. WE can not afford to go to court. I’m a student still.. I only wish I had a full time job to get custody of them.

I do not know what to do! I feel like I’m going to BLOW UP in her face, I can not take this any more.. Any advice?
Thank You

Cathryn’s Reply

Hi, You have taken on a lot of responsibility at a very young age. Your Beloved is lucky to have you, so are his sons. I hope you will post this question (if you haven’t already) to the general BB for I bet you will get many good ideas. Here are a few thoughts I have for you:

As a stepmom, it is hard to accept (find peace with) the reality that we can’t control the upbringing of the skids we love. It can be infuriating to see the power of bio-moms and not be able to do anything about it. Unfortunately, you are in for a long haul with this bio-mom and the sooner you can find a way to accept what you can’t change, the better. If you read our SMOMS Serenity Prayer you’ll see what I mean. It is sort of like getting to a point where you end up saying, “Sounds about right.” whenever the bio-mom does something that might annoy or upset you. Recognizing that there is No reason for her to change-you are the only one who can change and thank goodness that is something you have control over.
Do see if you can get a copy of “The Four Agreements” BY Don Miguel Ruiz and read pages 47-63. It may take a few readings (i’ve read those pages hundreds of times, but it will help. It is about not taking things personally. It’s not going to change the other person, it’s an attempt to help you so you don’t have to go nuts whenever she (or anyone) do things that upset you.
See if you can find free/pro bono legal support to get your custody arrangement in writing. While it doesn’t guarantee people will honor it, it gives your FDH something to stand on if things get worse. Others may know more about your options here.
Keep a journal of the things that happen with the bio-mom. This doesn’t always help in court but it gives you something to do with your pent up energy and it CAN help.
Check out the rules of your state. Many, if not all states require that the kids have their own bed in both(all) homes where they sleep. In terms of any other laws she is breaking, see if you can get some free legal advice about how to proceed. There used to be a divorced Father’s Advocacy group to help divorced Dads with this kind of thing. Use your energy to search out these options and it will be helpful to your FDH.
There are several Essays about dealing with bio-moms under my “essays on SMOM-ing” please check them out. At some point, hopefully before you get sick or depressed or overwhelmed with rage or despair, you will realize that we have to choose our battles with the people that we can’t work with (or control). Soon, our “Lessons Learned” page will be up on the site and it is advice from dozens of Sister SMOMs who are all offering ways for you to help yourself.
Focus on what you can do! Yes, I know it can drive you crazy to think about the other stuff but as tempting as it is, when something happens, ask yourself, Does this sound about right for her? If so, move on to the next question. “Can I do anything about this specific thing?” If the answer is “Yes,” do what you can as wisely as you can. If the answer is, “Nope.” Change your attention. Write it down in your journal, come to SMOMS.org BB for compassion, support and ideas. Then when you think of things you can do-focus your loving, energetic self on those ideas. The sooner you learn this skill, the better off you are going to be.

It sounds like you’re doing a great job. Goodness I know this is a hard thing to accept. Been there and no matter how many times we think about it-we are still not going to be able to provide care for the skids some of the time. It’s a tough reality to let in. Hopefully you find some legal assistance and advice and get some ideas from the BB here. This experience is going to give you lots of opportunities to learn, grow and gain lots of wisdom in this challenging role you’ve taken on so young. What lucky fellows those boys and their dad are to have you in their lives!! Good Luck in school, with your wedding plans and your search for support.

Best Wishes, Cathryn
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org