Dear Infertile Stepmom,
Please know you’re not alone in your feelings. Even if, like me, you are part of a harmoniously blended family, you probably still deal with feelings of loneliness, envy, and insecurity. How could you not battle those things? You’re bombarded with the overwhelming desire to conceive and birth a child after all. Then there’s the outside voices asking you when you’re going to have “a child of your own?”
Even my self-proclaimed — and dare I say accurate — status as a feminist doesn’t shield me from feelings of inadequacy. I often feel like my body has robbed me of a biological bond with my husband that he shares with someone else. It’s a lonely feeling, especially when you realize that voicing it could lead to judgment and hurt feelings. If you have even a hint of a negative emotion from being in the uniquely sorrowful position of being an infertile stepmom, there’s a very real fear that your feelings will be misinterpreted to mean that you must not love your stepchild or that you don’t love them enough.
You and I know, though, that those emotions aren’t a reflection of how you feel about your stepchild. I have the absolute best stepdaughter. She is smart, funny, and one of the most thoughtful humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Plus, she’s gorgeous to boot. I can simultaneously love her unconditionally and long for a human that will love me the way she loves her wonderful mom. Acknowledging that a child’s love and adoration for their own parents is unparalleled—when they have present, attentive ones—does not discredit the love you and your stepchild share. There’s just an awareness that it’s different, and that’s okay.
Give yourself grace.
I know I’ve struggled with giving myself grace while navigating these challenging feelings. I often feel guilty for the sadness I feel, but I know it isn’t my fault. It isn’t your fault either. All we can do is try to give ourselves grace while we navigate the difficult feelings, since somebody decided that life doesn’t come with a handbook.
You, fellow badass woman, are allowed the space to grieve what you long for and love what you already have. You have made the leap into parenthood—even when it goes unacknowledged or is discounted—by choosing to love and nurture a child even without the head start of a biological bond, and that is a courageous and beautiful choice.