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Stepmomming Ain't Easy

I started my journey to becoming a stepmom in 2015 when I met my better half, Damon, who had a 5-year-old son, Braden. Divorces can be traumatic for kids, no matter how amicable the split was, so we pretended to be just "friends" for quite some time.

At his young age, Braden was already wicked smart and guarded so I worked HARD to get into his good graces. That meant sword-fighting in heels, playing video games when I didn't know how, taking him to kid-centric places, and playing with him when all I wanted to do was relax with my new love interest.

Happy to say, my efforts paid off! I had gained Braden's trust and we developed our own special relationship. One of my fondest memories is when I spent the night at their house, and he wanted to make it a "sleepover", so I slept on the guest room bed, and he slept in a little kids' tent on the floor (with his long legs sticking out). How great that he wanted to sleep near me when not too long before, I was just a stranger he was skeptical of.

When I married his dad, I made sure to acknowledge him in my vows. Braden was the cutest 8-year-old groomsman in his suit and tie as he stood up with us. As I made eye contact with him, I expressed how excited I was to become his stepmom and told him how much I loved him. He then proceeded to cry, which made me cry (even though I tried to hold back those tears in a failed attempt to avoid ruining my expensive bridal makeup!), which then made our 100 guests cry. An incredible moment I will never forget.

The next few years were blissful. We moved into a new house of our own to start our life as a little family of three. His dad would tell him to get ready for bed (about 100 times before he actually would) and when it was time to brush his teeth, he would sneak out of his bathroom to come brush his teeth with me in mine, while we listened to Pandora on my phone and had a dance party. So many great memories just like that.

And then, everything changed.

Right after Braden turned 10, he started going through a distressing time. His mom, who has him 50% of the time, was so comforting to him during that period that she became his security blanket. Damon and I certainly tried to do the best we could and were always there for him, but it never seemed to be enough. As a result, he gravitated more to his mom, which was fine

and seemingly normal, but it left little to no room for me.

Braden became angry and took a lot of his rage out on me, which I've learned is typical as kids don't feel safe taking it out on their bio parents who they need to survive. So, for the last three years I've felt like a punching bag. It's been an incredibly difficult stage for both him and me. I've spent countless nights crying in my shower as I mourned the loss of our once special relationship.

I've gotten close to giving up several times, but I keep on trying to be the best stepmom I emotionally can, with a few boundaries now in place. A couple of months ago, Braden's mom, his dad and I had a 'come to Jesus' meeting with him. And that really helped! Is our relationship back to what it once was? Sadly no. But I do have hope that one day we'll reconnect and be able to rekindle that stepmom-stepson bond.

To all those stepmamas struggling out there, please know I understand and empathize. Hang in there and remember all stages are temporary. Keep trying (even in the face of constant disappointment) - you're doing a great job even if you don't get rewarded for it. In my humble opinion, stepparenting is one of the most selfless roles someone can take on.


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