Sanitary towels

The P word

Talking about the P word (periods of course!) is extraordinarily difficult for some young girls – I remember it being pretty embarrassing when my mum and I spoke about it  – and when she gave me a packet of sanitary towels to keep ‘just in case’, I almost ran for the rolling Cotswold hills.

And of course when the big day came and I turned into a proper ‘woman’ at the grand old age of eleven, it was still a pretty big shock to the system and of course the beginning of a monthly toil with my body and all the accoutrements and regalia that go along with the ‘curse’! Some girls are pretty happy when they first get their period but no not me – I would have preferred to play happily in the fields and stay forever ten years old permanently. Growing up was not an ambition of mine.

So last weekend when my gorgeous ten year old stepdaughter (let’s call her Amy) asked me “when are we going to talk about the P word?” I encountered a number of thoughts and feelings in quick succession:

  1. Wow – a stepmum brownie point – she wants me – yes me – to talk to her about periods. YES! Even though it’s not a competition with real mum of course…or actually, yes it blooming well is – no not in front of the kids it’s not, or second time around dad for that matter – but in my head this is super significant and a massive ker-ching on my part.
  2. Pride – how amazing is this little girl who has the confidence to ask me, stepmum of just three years – and yet how scary for her too – she could only say ‘the P word’ and not PERIOD! So it must have taken some guts which impresses me rather.
  3. And oh goodness methinks – I need to handle this appropriately….

So did I introduce little ‘Amy’ to the world of womanhood and gladly bag my brownie point on the stepmum scoreboard. No I did not. Even though it would be my honour to explain everything she wants to know, and I’d be proud to do so, I did not.

Part of this stepmother game, in my opinion, is not taking anything away from the real mum. Give real mum the chance to achieve these mummy milestones, and yes of course, if it doesn’t work out, come back to me and we’ll go through it together.

Being a stepmum is all about knowing boundaries and talking about periods should really be a real mum and daughter thing wherever possible. So I find myself in a situation where I am (a) proud to have been asked before real mum (b) proud to have had the integrity to pass the baton back to real mum (c) secretly hoping that real mum falls at the first hurdle and passes the baton back to me – but let’s give her a chance first hey stepmums? Making sure real mum is happy too is just one element of the tricky game of stepmum versus real mum snakes and ladders.

Have you had the same experiences as me? I’d love to chat to other stepmums, so come on stepmums, let’s unite!

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Monkey stepmum

The rise of the stepmother! Hear our voices too people…

CALLING ALL STEPMOTHERS! Isn’t it time we united too?

Having been a part time stepmother for three years, to three wonderful kids aged 17, 13 and 10, I’ve faced some ups and downs, but mostly fun and laughter. I can honestly say that these three mini people really do enrich my life and having no children of my own, I really appreciate the new dimension they bring to my life.

Yet it’s also got me thinking: where do all the stepmums hang out? I’ve had an occasional chat to a friend of a friend who is a stepmum, but I’d also appreciate the anonymity of a forum for instance. Somewhere to seek advice, and to have a good old moan too if I want to – without getting found out!

There are so many issues for stepmums to worry about. Here are my top three – and a few hints and tips for any stepmums out there like me.

  1. Do they like me?

Of course, this is the number one concern, but really, a concern that is best left at the back of your mind or it could really rule your roost. You need to be yourself, let go a little, have fun and definitely don’t give in. I’ve found it’s a constant challenge: be liked but don’t try too hard to be likeable.

  1. Nature or nurture?

In my personal opinion the worst part of being a stepmum is the real mum. Not being like-minded in the slightest, it’s a battle. I want the kids to become more confident, experience more in life and broaden their horizons, yet real mum wants to keep them young and close to home (a natural real mum thing I hear). Trying to positively influence kids can only be a good thing – without being overbearing of course. My advice? Positive snippets of advice little and often: hopefully it sinks in like ads on the telly….

  1. What do I do with them all day?

Yes, this can be stressful, especially with the age gaps we have. We often struggle for films to watch that keep the teenagers interested and off the iPhones, and without swearwords or risqué scenes that are inappropriate for the ten year old. In the daytime shopping is always a common demand (which I detest) so it’s all about finding a common ground – after all, you want to have a nice weekend too hey? My advice? The summer is better. Everyone loves a picnic: it’s fun, value-for-money, girls can chat and read magazines and boys can play with footballs etc. The winter months are trickier. Baking is always popular in our house, as well as making pizzas. Now our kids are a little older, we also try and make ordinary things fun: fajitas for tea turns into a Mexican evening complete with cheesy nachos, tacos, Mexican music and even the odd Mexican fancy dress item. Corny but funny.

So being a stepmum can be a solitary game. You are not part of a Mum’s group and if you are like me, you never have been. Real mums without stepkids don’t see that it’s hard for stepmums too! We often deal with the same issues as real mums (boyfriend troubles, periods, friendships, and anxieties) yet we don’t necessarily have the same bonds that a natural mother and child invariably do. Sometimes this can be a positive and sometimes a negative – for everyone involved.

 

So come on stepmums, let’s unite. We work hard to bring up other peoples’ children with their best interests and a great future in mind. We love these kids – but of course we still need a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. So where do you turn to?

What are your thoughts stepmums? Any comments or ideas?