As the end of term draws near, most schools and nurseries will be running some sort of sports day, and most Stepmums will be faced with the decision of whether or not to go along. Or you may find you have the decision taken out of your hands and you're TOLD what to do (My God that's annoying isn't it!)
So, before you get yourself in a fluster about it... have a read of this...
Should Step-parents be at sports day?
As many of you know, I'm not a fan of the word "should".... every family's situation is unique and what's right for one Stepmum might not be right for another. Think about what YOU want to do first. Chat it over with your partner and communicate clearly what you want to do! If they're on the same page then great! You can make a plan together. If not, then it's time to get them to put their listening ears on and explain clearly why you do or don't want to be there. If your partner is knee deep into kids activities and your idea of hell is watching a bunch of 7 year old drop plastic eggs off spoons then go gently on how you communicate it! But don't be afraid to express what you want.
If you do want to go and your partner isn't keen then listen to their reasons as to why... you may come round to their point of view, or them to yours, but either way listen! We have 2 ears and one mouth.... that ratio matters!
In my oh so scientific instagram poll only 16% of Stepmums were going to sports day and feeling excited about it! If you're in that group then we hope you have the BEST time! If not, read on...
Going to sports day and dreading it?
Firstly, don't feel guilty! There are lots of reasons why you might be reluctant about going, all are understandable but all can be overcome so you can either enjoy your time, or make the choice not to go.
The judgey playground!
Lots of Stepmums feel judged and as though the other Mums are looking at them as if they're some imposter. Time for a reality check lady...they are probably not doing this at all! The playground is a funny old place, lots of women rushing about their business, lots chatting about all sorts and yes, the odd ones with nothing better to do chatting about other people or side-eyeing from the hopscotch!
Truth be told, people generally tend to be FAR more interested in their own business than anyone else's so the likelihood is that THEY AREN'T EVEN THINKING ABOUT YOU! And if they are... that's their problem!
Remember - What people in the playground think about you has ZERO impact on your life and family".
If BioMum is going to sports day and you don't want to, then step away! Your stepchild already has a parent there. Seriously, don't put yourself through it! This is where work or a Doctor's appointment can take over... let your Stepchild know in advance that you won't be able to make it and leave BioMum to it!
Another reminder that I'm not a real Mum
If you are not (yet) a biological Mother but want (or wanted) to be, then events like this can be really triggering. No matter what your situation, it's good to remember you always have a choice.
So, you can either choose to step away and protect yourself or you can choose to step into this space you know you will find tough and prepare yourself in advance. As someone who struggled to get, and then stay pregnant I know being surrounded by babies and toddlers can be incredibly triggering. If you do choose to go then remember to breathe steadily, focus on what you HAVE in your life and what you LOVE about it, rather than what you wish you had, and if you think emotions might get the better of you then sunglasses always help! And if you choose not to, then honour that choice. It's ok to protect yourself and look after your emotions!
"Society expects me to go to Sports Day and will judge me if I don't" - Lauren, Stepmum
My message to Lauren - What does it matter if society judges you? It's what you and your loved ones think that counts!
So ladies, If you don't want to go, for whatever reason then join the 37% of Stepmums on the poll who aren't going, because THEY DON'T WANT TO!
IT IS OK TO SAY NO!
You can explain to your stepchild in an age appropriate way why you can't make it without hurting their feelings. If they have another parent figure or grandparent going then that's great but it isn't your responsibility to bear the burden of going to a school event you don't want to be at!
Not going but wish you were?
33% of the women surveyed were in this boat!
Some of you wanted to go but couldn't get time off work... I understand why this is annoying but get someone else to take pictures and videos and ask your stepchild to tell you all about it! You could even re-enact some of the races as a family!
"I'm not allowed to any school events. BM prevents it", Jess, stepmum of one boy
Many of you told me you weren't going because BioMum didn't want you there... this is such tricky territory and the response I recommend depends on so many things. My thought (as a BioMum and a Stepmum) would be that if BioMum was going and asked for me not to be there then I would respect that. (In the past my partner has ALWAYS sought his ex's opinion before I attended events, for us that was the respectful way to do it.)
It is incredibly painful sharing your child and sometimes having a Stepmum present at a child's event can be really triggering for a BioMum... another reminder that she has to share her children with a woman not of her choosing. YES - that IS BioMum's issue to work on, but for me I'd choose take a step back and let that be a 'Mum' event. Showing respect on both sides is important. In my case Biomum had said it was fine for me to be there, so sometimes I went and other times I didn't, solely based on what I could, and wanted to do. The caveat for me with Biomums is that if she's not going and STILL doesn't want you to, or if you're the majority 'parent' and do all the drudgery of parenting day to day then things might be different.
Either way it is still hard having to consider another woman in your choices but making peace and choosing to consider her rather than feeling forced to, is a very powerful re-frame!
It's also worth exploring what's causing your feelings to show up in the way they are!
So wherever you are with Sports Day pleeeeease don't give it more head space than it needs to!
Take a deep breath and make peace internally with wherever you are at.
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