And it's all Twitter's fault.
I totally <3 Twitter most of the time. Especially when it comes to #twitterstepmoms. Twitter is a place for me to share my bare naked, biased, ridiculous, sometimes witty but mostly just raw feelings about being a stepmom. (It's also a place for me to shamelessly promote this blog.)
I've virtually met so many people that have pulled me through rough times. We're all in this together, learning as we grow. I have grown strangely protective of you all. Every single stepmama I encounter on Twitter I can instantly identify with. You all are like a timeline of my own stepmother journey. Some of you are only in your first year as a stepmom. Some just got a ring on it and are looking forward to the journey down the aisle. Some of you have been at it for 20+ years and have helped me prep for what's coming. My point is, Twitter is a place for help, for venting, and for love.
It is not, my friends, a place for judgement.
I know there are Trolls out there. Nasty, Twitter Trolls that will say anything to get a reaction out of other stepmoms. They make assumptions and judgments about others. I try not to feed the trolls, or even acknowledge that they are there. But sometimes one of I want to eat Popeye spinach and get really big and virtually pummel them into Troll dust. I won't name names, but one particular Troll recently made a comment that took me to the bad place. The Troll basically said this:
If a stepmom is in any way acknowledged or celebrated on Mother's Day, then so should the nanny, because they're essentially the same thing. No #twitterstepmom can explain to me why that shouldn't be the case.
And I basically reacted like this:
SAY WHAT? As a stepmom, I'm the same as a NANNY?
Oh, hell no.
My first instinct was to write a scathing Tweet in response, spewing every naughty word I'm not supposed to say. But I stopped myself. I know it won't do any good. Nothing is going to change this person's opinion and responding will only feed the fire.
However, I do know that this misconception is out there in full force. And stepbloggies, we have to fix it. Not with anger and curse words and fits, but with information. So, here are the reasons that I, as a stepmother, believe I am not the same as a nanny or a babysitter. Feel free to share with others in your life that need some enlightening.
Nannies Get Learned Up
Nanny's are trained to watch over children. Hell, some of them go to school and get degrees for it.I received no schooling or help. No, I had to figure this shit out ALL ON MY OWN. No one gave me a course book on child psychology and calmly explained how to handle kids that weren't mine. No one patted me on the head and sent me on my way, telling me how great I was going to be at this. I just had to hope I would be.
Nannies Get Days Off
Do you really think nannies are taking their weekends off, sitting around worrying about how the kids they watch are going to do in college? Or how they're going to use their own funds to PAY for those kids to go to college? Do you think nannies are reading article after article on how make a lasting bond with these children without causing them any irreparable mental damage? Do you think nannies are spending their Thursday nights boiling over with anticipation for the weekends? Okay, maybe some are, but my guess is most are out living their lives and welcoming the break that they get from the kiddos. And they're probably looking forward to the paycheck that they expertly negotiated in exchange for for watching those awesome kids. Which brings me to my next pont.
Nannies Get Paid...Well
I do not receive, nor have I ever asked for, monetary compensation for my role as a stepmother. I accept payment in the forms of hugs, kisses, smiles and maybe an occasional diamond necklace (that was a joke). I took the role of a stepmom because I fell in love with a man that had children and consequently, fell in love with those children. Never once did I stop and think, "I wonder if this job comes with health and dental and a quarterly bonus if the kids get all A's this semester?"
I do not receive overtime if I stay up until 2:00 in the morning helping my step daughter with her Science project. I do not get an extra $25.00 to stay just a little bit longer and maybe start dinner if that's okay. I do this job because I WANT IT, not because it's helping me reach retirement sooner.
Nannies Get Respect From the Biological Mother
Do you know of a nanny who gets ridiculed and made fun of for JUST FOR EXISTING? Better yet, do you know of a nanny who is hated because she had the audacity to unconditionally love the children under her care? I didn't think so. Nannies are typically welcomed with open arms by the father and the mother. The nanny is viewed as a solution to a problem. An angel sent from heaven. A life saver. Nannies are celebrated for going above and beyond their duties. When I go above and beyond, I'm violating my boundaries and should probably be taken out to a field and shot in the head for our crimes. And I'll never be viewed as an angel sent from heaven.
For a nanny, the happy relationship with the parents comes easy. In fact, you probably wouldn't get hired if there wasn't an immediate connection with the children and the parents. Which brings me to....
I Earned My Job as a Stepmom - Nannies Interview for Their Job
I talked about this in my last blog entry. My relationship with my stepkids was earned over time. A lot of time. It didn't consist of me showing up with a resume in my hand, smiling and saying, "I've got credentials longer than the Bible. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. Oh, and I don't work Friday's and I don't cook."
No no no.
I only had approval from one person when this all started (that would be Hubs). I had to twist and turn my thoughts, habits, values and morals to fit with what these children (and to some degree, their mother) needed. Because that is the role I chose. I love Hubs so much that I decided to throw away all of my preconceived and fairy tale notions of what a marriage would be and start on a very uncertain journey as a stepmom. I earned their love. I earned their respect.
Nanny's Can Quit
If Little Timmy turns out to be a holy terror, Nanny Jane can tell the family to eff off and move on to the next. Not here. Not as a stepmom. I'm in it. All day, every day, for the rest of my life. Quitting isn't an option for me. If my stepdaughter decides to shave her head and pierce her nose, I'm here. If Mama Ex has a meltdown and is disrespectful or insolent toward me, I'm here. There is no ejection seat. There is no collecting my back pay and showing the family my backside as I walk away. This IS my family now. In all of its craziness and awesomeness, it's mine. And I wouldn't change it for anything.
Does all of this mean I'm entitled to extra love on Mother's Day? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing it certainly does mean is that, at the end of the day, I am NOT a Nanny. I am NOT a babysitter. I am so much more. And to throw a label like that onto me is like throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West. It defeats me. It melts me. It makes me less capable of doing a good job as a step mother. So just don't. You don't have to like me, but you do have to respect me and my family.
And I will do the same for you.