Stepmom Life,  Outspoken

Stepmom: It’s Okay to Fall Back

Hi friends. I’m so glad you popped in to join me today for this post. I want to talk to you about something that has been on my heart & mind for quite some time now: falling back.

When I say “falling back,” I mean falling back into old ways. You know – similar to falling back into old habits (maybe falling back into not working out, falling back into eating unhealthy, etc.) – but today I’m not going to be talking about those types of “falling backs” – instead, I’m going to talk about falling back as a stepmom.

My Stepmom Backstory

I’ve been a stepmom for almost five years now, and to say it has been a bumpy ride would be putting it very mildly. It’s been one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had in my life – for a multitude of reasons (refer to my post on For the Stubborn Stepmom if you want a backstory).

But throughout it all – one thing that I have never read from my favorite stepmom advice book, a stepmom website, or heard from my stepmom friends is that it’s okay to fall back. And guess what? It is.

An Example of What It Means to Fall Back as a Stepmom

Let me give you an example of what I mean when I say falling back as a stepmom: up until about five months ago, my husband’s ex and I were on the best terms we had ever been – we were borderline friends. We texted each other about the boys, life, and other things, we communicated about important plans and occasions, and even went as far as to joke (on occasion) about silly things my husband does. We worked hard to get to that point – very hard. My stepsons were flourishing from it, too.

You see, up until that point, she and I had been the opposite of friends pretty much since the day we got to know each other. I was not ok with her lackadaisical stance on motherhood, nor was I ok with the way she treated me (calling me names, bullying me, etc.) She did not like that I actually stood up for her children and her ex husband, and made it very well known.

A Change of Heart

But, when I had my son Harrison, in 2017, something changed. While I did not let her see my son for over a year (because I distrusted her and her intentions that much), over the course of that year, my heart softened from finally being a mother myself. And I forgave her for everything – and was able to attempt to put myself in her shoes for certain situations.

Why, Money, Why?

However, as is almost always the case, money came into the picture around the end of January of this year, and things took a turn for the worse. It was a really simple situation, but unfortunately did not play out that way: my husband and I found out that my youngest stepson had been buying lunch and snacks every day at school (despite bringing his own lunch and snacks) and had racked up a pretty hefty bill from doing so. As with most things in a 50/50 custody agreement, when we received the bill, we asked her if she would pay for half of it (since it was school expenses). She said no.

I don’t even need to get into the reasons as to why she said no, because they are all absolutely ludicrous – but she said no. The amount we were requesting, her half, was only $60. I won’t go into detail – but let’s just say that my husband’s portion of child support, alimony, and retirement pays for well over any multiple of that amount.

My Breaking Point

I’m not sure what happened within me in the moment she said “no” and had every excuse know to man as to why she refused to pay her half, but something kind of snapped. I just realized that I had had enough.

I had had enough of her taking advantage of me, my husband, and our children (including my 2 year old son). I had had enough of her acting one way in person yet doing something completely against those actions over the phone, email, or to her children. I had had enough of her wanting to be my best friend yet doing my family so wrong (in ways I can’t even begin to explain). I had had enough. Period.

The Confrontation

So, I confronted her one day. She came to the door to pick up my youngest stepson, and I asked if I could speak with her. Although my husband had sent numerous emails and asked her in person, she had still not been willing to budge when it came to paying for half of that lunch fee and I confronted her saying, “can you please pay us that money?” – and that is where everything went the other direction.

She immediately got defensive saying it was not my place to ask for the money (which, she’s right, it wasn’t) – but I explained that this affected my son now, too, because that was $60 we could have split three ways and put in each boy’s savings account (or something similar). I also explained that it was her responsibility to cover half of the costs of any school-related expense, per court order. She did not like that at all.

She immediately went from jumping all over me about having even mentioned this to calling me a “bitc*” on my front porch in front of my house where my child lives. That will never be ok – I don’t care who you are.

I told her that when she was ready to have an adult conversation, I would be here, and as she continued to call me names, I closed the door. She was furious.

We have never been the same since then. Ever.

So, friends, this is what I mean by falling back as a stepmom – I fell back, and I fell back hard.

Why I am Okay With It

But here’s the thing: I am okay with it, believe it or not.

Yes, we had a good relationship for a while, and for that I was very thankful. But something inside me said that the way she was treating me, my husband, and my stepsons (along with my son) was not okay, and I guess the “mama bear” in me had to stand up for that.

Sure, it was only $60, but it wasn’t about the amount – it was the principle behind it (as I’m sure any other stepmom can understand.

So, here is what I learned, after months of careful reflection about this entire situation: it’s okay to fall back. It’s okay.

Four Reasons Why It’s Okay to Fall Back as a Stepmom

1. It’s Human Nature

Human nature, according to the dictionary, is “the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans.”

Isn’t this the truth? There are certain psychological characteristics about being a human, certain feelings and traits, that we just cannot deny and we cannot run away from.

It’s part of who we are as beings – animals – whatever you want to call us.

2. We Can’t Control Others

We can’t. No matter how hard we try.

But who we can control is ourselves. We will always have that – and hopefully will use that wisely.

Some may think that I should have controlled myself more that day, and not mentioned the money – but it went so far beyond the money & so much more into the person she was being (and had repeatedly been). Our conversation would have happened one way or another, no matter the topic at hand. And I have to be okay with that reality.

3. Maybe It’s There to Teach Us A Lesson

Maybe there was a higher reason as to why this all happened – who knows.

Maybe this all happened because I was meant to see that, in the end, it is okay to stand up for myself and for my family – and it will always be.

Maybe, even though I can’t see it, this affected her greatly & changed her way of thinking (one can only hope).

Whatever the “maybes,” I have to put trust in the fact that there is an upper hand to all of this, and perhaps I won’t know the reason behind it for a long time – but it is there.

4. We Just Have to Keep Trying

No matter what, we can’t let a situation like this keep us down for long – sure, we can mope over it for some time, get it out of our systems – but we have to eventually stand back up and try again.

I don’t know when I will be willing to try again with her – it may be a long time from now – and that’s okay.

But I do know that I will be willing at some point, because it’s just who I am (and I think it’s who a lot of stepmoms are). We choose to see the better side of situations (heck, we married men who were previously married with kids, right?).

Ultimately, it will help to know that it’s okay if a bad situation happened and you fell back – because you will get up again and you will try again and you won’t give up.

But not giving up does not necessarily mean you will speak to her again or have the same type of relationship – it may either never happen or look completely different the next time around – and that is okay, too.

Take Aways

I really hope that you found this post on a day when you needed reassurance that it is okay to fall back.

I hope you found this post during a time when you were doubting yourself and why you fell back, but after reading, you know that you will be okay and that what you did – what you stood up for – was worth it.

I hope that this post brought you some peace that you needed.

And of course, I hope that you will share this post with your other stepmom friends – so that they, too, can know that – if they have recently fallen back – it’s okay (and to not beat themselves up about it, regardless of why they did it or what came from it).

Next Steps

If you are new to my blog, welcome! You can head here to learn a little more about me, Leslie W.!

In addition, I’d love for you to check out The Stubborn Stepmom page on my blog – we have so many resources and support for you there!

Something else I think you will enjoy are a few of my most recent posts about being a stepmom, including:

Well friends, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for joining me here. Make sure you sign up for my email list below so that you never miss a post about stepmom related things! Thanks for reading, and take care.

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2 years ago

Wow what a difficult situation to be in! Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share!

2 years ago
Reply to  Laila

Well amen for you falling back! That lady sounds like a piece of work!

Lee Anne
Lee Anne
2 years ago

I imagine these types of relationship are ever-changing! I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who can relate.

2 years ago

Good for you for falling back. Seems like such a tough situation to be in.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

“Fall back”–What a great way to state it! I love that you mention giving up the need to control in this post. I truly believe that is the only way to finding peace in difficult situations. I once read a book called, “Loving What Is”, by Byron Katie. It was such a pivotal book for me in this area.

2 years ago

I definitely feel like being a stepmom would be incredibly hard. I like your #4- Keep trying! If things happen, which they will, don’t keep a grudge! In the end, keeping a grudge will only hurt the person holding it and the kids!

2 years ago

Maybe you’ll be able to work out a solution together. Possibly the child could do extra chores at both houses to pay off the bill and she would come around if she was part of the plan?? Sounds like a tough situation to be in. Hang in there!

Holly B
2 years ago

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! As a stepmom for over 20 years, the youngest was 2 at the time. Stepping back is a wonderful way to keep your sanity and marriage safe So many steps marry because they fall in love with the children and want to be there for them, that stepping back is almost impossible! Great read

2 years ago

This is great advice for any stepmom. I’m glad you stood up for your family. Thanks for sharing.

2 years ago

That seems like a very tough situation and I am not sure how i would react…probably pretty similarly! Glad you dont regret your actions and stood up for your family. hopefully one day you two can be on good terms okay the right way.

2 years ago

Not a fun situation. My parents are divorced and as a kid, I’ve seen my share of fights and misunderstandings and it wasn’t ever a good picture to see. It’s always tough that kids get the short end of the stick in divorces and I think it’s difficult when the step parent wants to do the right thing but the bio parent interferes. Wishing you lots of strength. Your husband’s ex sounds like a “treasure”.

2 years ago

Definitely a tough spot to be in. I can’t relate entirely, but I’ve been dealing with a difficult in law relationship. There are high points and low points for sure. Thanks for sharing!

2 years ago

It’s not okay to be nasty, good for you for closing the door.

2 years ago

I cannot imagine everything you have had to deal with. However, it is ok to fall back in certain situations. I applaud you for what you did. It cannot be easy to deal with heartless, nasty, individuals when they are so close to your family.

Eva Keller
2 years ago

I support this 100%. My husband’s family does not like me at all so I have completely distanced myself from them, but I do believe that if it comes down to it that I really need to stand up for myself because their behavior is not okay with me or my husband. His children are both adults (Barely, they’re 19 and 22 now) so we don’t have to deal with many issues most stepmoms do, which has been really great for helping our family situation. Thank you for this!

Lisa Manderino
Lisa Manderino
2 years ago

It is really hard because things like this example happen all the time and not just to step parents. It is good to reflect and learn from our situations.

1 year ago

Money is always a difficult issue to talk about, even in a “normal” family situation sometimes. Having complications from previous relationships makes those conversations that much more difficult.

1 year ago

What a difficult position to be in. But you’re right, you just have to keep moving forward and keep trying. Sometimes it’s easier said than done!

1 year ago

Such perspective on a very difficult topic. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. I hope those in your situation find it very helpful!

1 year ago

It’s certainly an ever changing situation. You learn, you grow, you keep going. You did the right thing. Nothing you can do to change her.

1 year ago

What a difficult situation. Stay strong. Wishing you and your family the best!

Ruth Iaela-Pukahi
1 year ago

I’m sorry you had to go through this. It sucks. Most times people are horrible because they don’t like themselves. My stepmom experiences are few because I wasn’t allowed to be a real stepmom but probably better cause we are getting a divorce. Anyways, I am a foster mom. I’ve had the step mom happy her babies were with me then furious at me for cutting her son’s hair just a little bit. If I didn’t say anything, she would have never known. I had to let time pass and then she has been kinder as she watches me take good care of her babies. Sometimes we have to let things go. In the end, you won the man. πŸ˜‰