Wednesday, June 5, 2013

If being is a stepmom is a job...when do we get a raise?

I've been doing some major thinking lately.

(And yes, some of the thinking circles around how on earth I can figure out a way to watch 'Downton Abbey' without crying ever. single. episode.)


I've been thinking about my expectations in my career as a stepmom. In the world of normal careers (accountant, sales rep, , 6+ years experience in a position would be pretty great. I'd be at a point where I'd likely be experiencing the following:
  • A substantial raise
  • My own cell phone paid for by the company
  • Respect
  • Praise for a job well done
  • A bonus
  • Additional vacation time
  • Sick days
  • Stock options
  • Christmas parties with lots of booze
  • A hot copy machine guy to stare at
  • Impromptu "Let's get out of the office at 3:00 and never come back" days.
But as a stepmom? Well,  6+ years experience seems to be equivalent to "Intern". With my years of experience, the bulk of my fringe benefits are:
  • No pay
  • A cell phone that I pay for and use to try and communicate with my stepkkids. And generally get declined because Mama Ex hates that they want to talk to me.
  • Some respect. None of which comes from Mama Ex.
  • A little praise
  • A lot of criticism - from Mama Ex, friends, strangers, etc.
  • The never-ending feeling that I don't quite belong and probably never will.
  • The privilege of acting as Chauffer
  • And Cook
  • And shoulder to cry on
  • Hugs and kisses from my stepkids that are never full hugs and kisses. Those are reserved for Mama Ex.
So when does all of this change? When do I get upgraded to "Executive Vice Parent" to these kids that I love so, so much? Is there some magical date in which the tides turn and all of a sudden I get the benefits that I think I deserve? Unfortunately, I think that answer is "no". 

I realize that all parents, not just steps, feel unappreciated some of the time. Maybe even all of the time. In fact, when I've made reference to the fact with friends or family that I do feel taken advantage of at times, it's often met with a chuckle and some version of the phrase "Well, join the club!" The problem is, as a stepmom, I CAN'T join the club. Even if I want to. My corporate card will never reach the gold level. I'll always be stuck at silver, or maybe even that ugly, tarnished bronze color. I'm like Eddie Murphy in "Trading Places", standing outside the restaurant window watching my colleagues live it up, knowing I don't belong.

As I write this, I realize how incredibly selfish I sound. Why should I expect that at some point I will receive anything just for being a parent-figure? As so many people love to say, "Hey Ruby, you signed up for this. You knew it was coming." At the end of the day, shouldn't I accept and understand that, though it's unacknowledged by Mama Ex, my stepkids or the world at large, I am playing a huge part in how these kids grow up. Shouldn't that be enough for me?

Apparently Wednesday is "Ruby Pity Party Day." But hey, we all need those, right?


  1. I feel ya, Ruby. We just took the kids on a vacation & had an amazing time. When we dropped them off, I got a "bye! thank!" and a wave. I know they appreciate the good time, and I know it's so important that they have the best connection with their mom, but that doesn't make it sting any less. Maybe we need some pity party days so that we can be really really extra strong all of the other days. <3

    1. Vacations are when it really, really hurts, I feel. I just spent all this time, money, energy on the kids so they have a great time...and it hurts so much when they say something like, "I wonder what Mommy's doing back at home?" or they want to call her every ten minutes. Ugh...pity party days are definitely necessary!