The Stepmom Club Series: Kate!

Happy weekend, my friends!

I know it's been a little quiet around here, but I'm super stoked for today's feature on The Stepmom Club Series!

Kate is a young stepmom of a teenage stepdaughter (sounds like my life once Jess turns 13 this June!  Eek!!) and she has a really great stepmom perspective that I'm excited for everyone to read.  I love Kate's honesty about her relationship with her stepdaughter - and stepmotherhood in general - and I think you will, too!

(Would you like to be part of the project?  Fill out this Google form and I'll get back to you with more information within 48 hours!)

And without further ado, here is Kate's story...

-What is your name and general location?
I’m Kate, and I live in a suburb of Chicago.

-How many stepchildren do you have? (And what age and gender, if you’re comfortable sharing) If you have biological children, feel free to let us know about them here, too!
I have one stepdaughter, she’s 15, going on 16 in August. No children of my own, and no plans for any either.

-Can you tell me a little bit of background about your stepparenting story?
My husband and I met on the internet in early 2009. I knew he had a daughter right away, as it was on his profile, and her importance to him was pretty clear. Going into the relationship, I wasn’t looking for anything serious, so it wasn’t a consideration. As time went on, and it became clear the relationship was serious, she was just part of the picture, not something that was a pro or a con, just was.

We have his daughter 50% of the time, Wednesday, Thursday and every other weekend (Friday is part of the weekend). We live about 10 minutes from her mom, but during the school year we rarely have to shuttle her back and forth, since we just get her after school, so that’s easy.

-What does your stepchild call you?
She calls me Kate, or very rarely Katie, which is what I went by when she first met me.

-How/When did you first meet your now stepchild(ren)?  Did you run into any difficulties bonding with them? (right away or just in general)
We met right away, and I was introduced as a friend. Had I been more mature/thinking straight, I would have waited. But it was also good because I got introduced into her life at a relatively slow pace, and she had known me for a while before my now-husband and I officially told her we were dating.

Bonding with a kid is, and likely always will be, hard for me. I’ve always been slightly uncomfortable around kids, so that has made it a little difficult for me to form the relationship with my stepdaughter that I think my husband would like for me to have. We talk, and sometimes we even tease each other, but we’re not super close. I sometimes joke that it’s like having a half-time roommate. But honestly, it works for us, and I’m not comfortable forcing anything that doesn’t exist.

-How do you and your partner handle discipline/rules within your family? (Is it 50/50?)  How do you and your partner make sure you are both respected by the child?
My husband does all the disciplining/setting down rules. He and I have very different parenting ideas and if it were my own kid, I might be a little more strict (okay, a lot more strict, haha). I will give him input on rules and consequences and such, but in the end it’s his kid, his decision. If there’s something I have an issue with regarding my stepdaughter’s behavior, I bring it up to my husband after the fact, and he’ll address it with her. This isn’t much of an issue though, because I honestly have one of the best behaved teenagers living in my house as one could wish for (knock on wood it continues that way!). My stepdaughter respects me in the same way she respects any adult, and that’s fine by me.

-Do you participate in communication/relationship with your stepchild’s other biological parent? (Not your partner)  If so, how much and how do you maintain that relationship?
Absolutely not. At one point we were “friends” on various forms of social media, but that quickly deteriorated the minute that we ended up having to go to court for something. We now have no communication at all (and she’s blocked on social media).

-How do you decide what things to do when you don’t have the child (when the child is with their other parent) and what things you want to wait to do until you have the child with you?
I don’t think about it as much as my husband. I think more about what we’re going to do when she’s not around - like having friends over, or making sure my doctor’s appointments, etc, are scheduled when she’s not around, than what we’re going to do when she is around. I think that’s because at the age she’s at there’s not much “scheduled” hanging out- it’s not as if we’re going to the zoo every other weekend. My husband is more about making sure to wait to do things with her (if there’s a movie they both want to see for example) which to me makes sense because, hey, it’s his kid.

-Hardest/Most Difficult stepmothering memory?
There have been a few times when people around me have judged me for my relationship with my step-daughter, because they seem to think it’s not “enough” or some similar ridiculousness. That’s really hard because, as stepmoms know, it’s a fine line between “enough” and “overstepping.” While I’ve never been accused of being too involved in my step-daughter’s life, I’ve definitely been accused of not building a relationship with her, and coming from somebody who had/has no idea about the intricacies of building a blended family, it is annoying and frustrating. However, it also hurts, even if I logically understand they have no idea what they’re talking about.

-Best/Funniest stepmothering memory?
Honestly? For my sister’s wedding in January, my stepdaughter didn’t like the way I did my eye makeup, so she ended up re-doing it herself. And then, for my birthday a few months later, she bought me a relatively expensive eyeshadow palette. This was accompanied by a pretty serious “lesson” on how to properly apply eyeshadow, with some intense advice to stop using so much sparkly eyeshadow. Basically, I got schooled by a 15 year old. And it was awesome. It really made me realize how comfortable she is around me, and that made me feel great.

Oh, and my stepdaughter wrote me the sweetest ever Valentine’s Day card this year. I cried. And then I cried again. It was so sweet, and made me realize that she recognizes what I do for her more than I ever thought she did.

-Any particular resources (books, magazines, blogs, podcasts, etc) that have helped you along in your stepmothering journey?
The best book I ever read (that resonated most with me) was The Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom. (Find on Goodreads!)  However, at this point I’ve read it so long ago I have no idea why I thought it was so great. So take that advice with a grain of salt?

All in all, I’ve found that trying to connect with other stepmoms is really helpful. It’s nice to have somebody to vent to when you just can’t handle it anymore, and none of your non-stepmom friends understand (and your husband might get offended!).

-What advice would you give your former self if you could send a letter back in time?  Please write a short version of that letter here.

Dear Kate,
Good luck with this whole stepmom thing! There’s going to be some hard times, but make sure you do what feels right for you - not what’s right for somebody else. Don’t lose yourself in the drama and don’t let yourself be intimidated. You’re an amazing woman, and you’ve got this.

-Do you ever get jealous that you aren’t the child’s biological parent?
Not at all. I frequently think it would be EASIER if I was the biological mom, but I am not ever jealous. I have the relationship I have with my stepdaughter and I don’t need it to be more.

-What do you say when people ask if you have kids?
I generally say “No, but I have a stepdaughter.”

-What do you say when a stranger (waitress or something like that) refers to you and your spouse as mom and dad? (ie “Ask your mom and dad”)
I honestly can’t think of a time this has happened. I mean, it must have, but I can’t recall. So I guess it’s a shrug and move on situation. What does it matter if some random person knows whether or not I am biologically related to my stepdaughter? Now, if she seemed offended or upset, I think I would politely correct the person, but again, I don’t really recall that ever happening.

-How are you preparing for when the child might someday say “you aren’t my real parent” or if others say that to you?
Since I’m pretty hands-off to begin with, I’m not expecting this to ever come up. However, if it does, I’ll just say “yup, not your parent, but [fill in reason she should be listening to me at the moment] and move on.

-Was your now partner having a child or children a pro or a con when deciding whether to date and ultimately marry them?
See the second question. :) Not a pro or a con, just a thing.

-Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to get into this relationship?
I’ll be honest - this is something that I’ve struggled with. I love my husband and wouldn’t give him up for the world. But there have definitely been moments when I wish I could turn back time and make different decisions. And nearly every one of those times revolves around my stepdaughter’s mother and the drama she’s brought into our lives. So mostly I just remember it’s only a few more years while we split custody, and then she’ll be far less of a factor. Never completely gone, of course (I expect to encounter her at big events in my stepdaughter’s life) but hopefully when my stepdaughter turns 18 we’ll be able to minimize the impact that her mother has on our lives.

-Tell us three interesting facts about you that DON’T have to do with stepmothering.  Also, please leave any blog or contact links below if you’d like that information to be featured here.
-I have an Instagram account dedicated to pictures of books (IT’S A THING):
-I love to travel and have been to five continents (I’m trying to hit all of them - minus Antarctica - in one passport, but I don’t know if I’m going to make it).

-I just graduated with my Masters in Library and Information Science, and no, I do not want to be a librarian. :)

Thanks again, Kate, for being so open in sharing your story and experience with us today!

Did you like reading Kate's interview?  Want to read more in this series?  Check them all out here!

(Don't forget that if you're interested in sharing your own stepmotherhood story just out this Google form and I'll get back to you with more information within 48 hours!)

Thanks so much, my friends!  Have a great weekend!!

Hi, I'm Grady! Welcome to my blog :) A little about me? I'm a smitten newlywed and brand-new stepmom living in New Hampshire. My day job is boring on paper but great in real life (just like Dunder Mifflin!), and when I'm not working I love to spend time with my family, perform in or manage productions at the theatre, and eat ice cream while listening to yet another financial management podcast.  I write about my marriage, step-parenthood, and whatever else is going on.  Be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog!

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