I think it’s safe to say I was not prepared for how much my life would change when I became a stepmom a year and 9 months ago. I knew being a stepmom wasn’t going to be easy and I knew a lot of things were going to be different. Since my girls were nine and 14 when my husband and I got married, I knew to expect things like sleepovers, homework, and boy problems. However, there are some typical “new mom” things that were not even on my radar for kids at these ages. Maybe I was just blissfully ignorant, but no one told me these mom experiences weren’t exclusive to babies or toddlers. Here is a list of things I did before I had kids in my life that I don’t do anymore.
I slept through the night. Everybody knows babies don’t sleep through the night. Nobody tells you that big kids don’t always sleep through the night either. I did not expect to be woken up two or three times a week by a nine year old because she was hot, or cold, or the t.v. turned off, or there was an owl outside her window, or whatever.
I could clean/do laundry once a week (or less). When I was single, once I cleaned something it stayed clean for a while. Now I can sweep and mop the floor and walk back in the room two minutes later to find crumbs all over the floor and not a kid in sight. They are like ghost crumbs. I would totally expect this from a toddler, not a 14 year old. When I was single, I very rarely had to deal with stains on clothes or anything majorly dirty. Babies are notorious for spit-up and blowouts. Toddlers are dirt-magnets. But today my 10 year old came home with ketchup on the back of her shirt.
I wore eyeliner. I shaved my legs everyday. I painted my nails. Now I don’t have the time or the energy.
I ate good food. I love to eat, cook, and go out to eat. I love to eat lots of different things. The idea of cooking for a family of four instead of cooking for one was exciting to me. Introducing my stepdaughters to some of my favorite restaurants in Birmingham sounded like so much fun. However, it hasn’t really gone the way I expected. I have cooked meals that I thought were delicious that someone refused to eat or proceeded to spit out. Now, if I do cook, it’s one of the six pre-approved recipes that everyone agrees on. If we go out to eat, it’s one of the six pre-approved restaurants that has something everyone likes. I honestly thought they would be past the picky-eater phase. Nope.
I had nice things. By nice I don’t necessarily mean expensive; I’ve never really had expensive taste. I just mean my things weren’t dirty, missing, or broken. Not to mention the fact that I very rarely buy anything for myself anymore. If we do have nice things, they aren’t nice for very long. Now I am very grateful that I don’t have expensive taste.
I did stuff by myself. I have heard many stories of moms who can’t go to the bathroom without their toddler. I never knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go the bathroom without my 9 year old. I never had an audience when I lived alone. I also never had to tell anyone where I was going or why or when I’d be back. Now I might have to sneak out of the house while my husband runs interference. And it doesn’t take long for my phone to start blowing up with “wrud” (What are you doing?), “When will you be back?”, “Are you almost home?” and/or “Where’s my such-and-such?”.
I could concentrate on one thing at a time. I wrote this blog post at an average pace of around three words per minute. Older kids don’t nap. And they ask a ton of questions that aren’t the “Why is the sky blue?” type. They are the really heavy ones where they may not fully understand the answer (Hello, puberty).
I almost never cried. There wasn’t anything in my life before kids that was as equally difficult, frustrating, wonderful, crazy, fulfilling, or rewarding.
I have had the unique opportunity to sort of do things backwards. I have seen what life is like with older kids, and it is not as easy as I used to think. Yes, they are more independent — they don’t need to be held, fed, dressed, changed — but they still require almost all of your time and attention. I was under the misconception that kids grew out of some of these things and it really only applied to moms of babies or toddlers. I think the truth is that it applies at least in some way to moms of all types, to kids of all ages.
I’m guessing most moms figure this stuff out as their kids grow up. If you’re a new mom and, like me, didn’t realize some of these things will last longer than the early years, don’t worry. My husband and I are still trying to have a baby, so knowing I may never sleep again hasn’t scared me away. I’m signing up for another 18+ years.