step·moth·er Pronunciation: \-ˌmə-thər\ : the wife of one's father when distinct from one's natural or legal mother
wife Pronunciation: \ˈwīf\ a female partner in a marriage
Whenever my wife/stepmom life gets me down, I tend to think of escaping it. In fact, escape fantasies are one of my defense mechanisms. I've gone days dreaming about leaving jobs I didn't like; cities that didn't agree with me; and homes that felt uncomfortable.
My first reaction to most of life's hardships is to flee which is extremely ironic because I also have serious abandonment issues, too.
However, I rarely escape the things that make me feel like I'm coming undone. I've always stuck it out because whatever I'm trying to escape is part of what defines me.
When I was contemplating quitting my life, what held me back -- or kept me from leaving -- was a sense of dedication to people who counted on me. I felt a sense of obligation to those that defined my stepmotherhood.
I like to think my stepkids need me. Not just for spending money, but for additional love. The thought of not being a stepmom actually scared me. To a lot of stepmoms, that might sound odd, but it's true -- without my stepkids I would be childless. Without children, I think I would feel lost and empty; almost as if I'd self-inflicted a hole into my heart.
My stepkids are just part of what defines my stepmotherhood, though. I've almost created a brand out of being a stepmom. Stepchicks is growing at a rate I couldn't have imagined. The Stepfamily Letter Project is doing well, too. I'm working with a lot of well-known moms and stepmoms on awesome projects all related to being a stepmom.
So what would happen to me, to those relationships and to those projects if I was just a single girl who was a former stepmom?
I wasn't willing to find out because, and I'm getting repetitious here, my stepmotherhood is a large part of what defines me -- the Erin you read on this blog and the one you may meet in person some day. While I am many other things -- Karate Kid, Pole Dancer, Daughter, Wife, Sister and Friend, Stepmom is the badge I wear most proudly.
So it came down to what I am keeping me where I am.
My husband and I will figure things out, my stepkid will get healthier and everyone will grow older and wiser and here I'll be, still defining myself as a stepmom first, a wife second and an individual third.