It’s Not a Competition

It’s embarrassing to admit just how much of this article, “Mom vs. Stepmom” in the November issue of Stepmom Magazine (, was my life when I first became a stepmom. The competition with the ex, the anger directed toward her, the hateful feelings I experienced. I could feel my cheeks flushing as I read. Those first few years as a stepmom were challenging, to say the least. It took years for me to learn to let go, to trust, to give it up to God.

I learned that it is not possible to change anyone but me. No matter how frustrating it was, I had to accept the ex as she was and learn to give up my need for control, my need to be the best. As the author, Brenda Snyder, says in this article, I needed to embrace the freedom of letting go. There were so many times when I wanted to “win.”

One story I wrote for my book that’s posted on my blog is “Stepmom as Hero for Once.” My stepson’s mom took him for a haircut, and he hated it. He said it looked like he had gotten a bowl cut. I had to admit he was right. So, I offered to take him to my hairstylist for a fix. He loved what she did with his hair, claiming her as his new hair person. He was so grateful to me, and I felt like the “winner” of that round. But, it’s not a competition. My focus should have been on his happiness, rather than being pleased that I was the one who made him happy, not his mom. I think as stepmoms we so rarely feel we matter, that when we have moments where we get to shine, we feel that momentary “mom” bliss.

Nevertheless, I had to learn to accept that I wasn’t their “mom,” I was never going to be their mom. Instead, I needed to work on developing my own unique relationship with my husband’s kids. That’s when my stepkids and I became closer. This is especially true with my stepdaughter. I cherish the closeness she and I now share. We shop together, go out for lunch, play with our two small dogs, stay up late on the computer. Am I her mom? No. She has a mom. I’m not her aunt either, or a teacher, or a coach. I guess I’m just her “Shawn.” That works for me. 🙂

2 Responses to “It’s Not a Competition”

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  1. Theresa says:

    I did this too. My stepdaughter and I started becoming closer, watching movies, I was teaching her things on the computer, and we both loved it. Mama bear felt threatened (she has 4 other kids, all younger than 4) and told me to apply the breaks. I wasn’t trying to be her mother, I was trying to have a good relationship with her. Her mother made sure she sabotaged that and now I am nothing to her. She hates me, and is trying to turn her father against me. I don’t know what to do anymore???

  2. Shawn Simon says:

    Hi Theresa! I apologize for not responding sooner. I have been having all kinds of website problems and just now saw your comment! :0 Your story makes me so sad. I had such a similar experience with my stepdaughter when she was younger. She ran hot and cold on me for years! It was so hard. One day we’d be close and the next she’d literally run away from me. I think she felt she wasn’t allowed to like me. It was heartbreaking. The only advice I can give is to wait. Just be yourself, stay kind, stay the grown-up, and stay consistent with who you are. The kids tend to come around. They start to see, sadly, what’s really going on. My kids are now 17 and almost 21, and they know how unstable their mom is. It’s unfortunate, but at least they are aware of the truth. Since I’m so late in responding, I hope things have gotten better. I’d love an update!

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