Co-parenting in general can messy, awkward, and a series of trial and error. Bio moms and stepmoms may not always agree and feel there are too many shades of grey, unspoken rules, and boundaries, and they'd be right! There are plenty of self-help articles on how to handle co-parenting or what the stepparent should or shouldn't do but not as many from the stepmother's point of view. This is what I'd like you to know:
Even though you’re the mom 100% of the time, in the time frame you’re not around, she helps to parent your child. She is forming a family and a relationship with your children. Stepmoms, like you, are here for the good, the bad, and the ugly. This child now has two women to learn from and look up to. Embrace it.
Most stepmoms know what your kid likes and dislikes and even which pair of jeans are the "itchy" ones they hate. Despite what you believe, she does keep their best interest in mind. It's not about stepping on your toes or trying to take your place; it's about giving the child security when they aren’t with you. A child can never have too many people who love them.
You are both two completely different women, with different abilities and strengths to bring to the table. You may be weak in the areas she thrives in and vice versa. If you let your stepmom shine in her areas and you in yours, then the child will have the best of both worlds! Besides, if she rocks the PTA meetings, let her! Especially if you didn’t want to deal with volunteering in the pickup line.
You may dislike her, but don't let your manners show it. The child will pick up on it and either parrot you, or feel put in the middle. If she’s trying to be kind to you, reciprocate. She’s helping to raise your child, blend a family, and maybe handle her own baggage from the past, she doesn't also need your hostility. A nice response back to a text, VS. "K." can go a long way in helping stepmom feel more like a person and less of a nuisance.
It makes it difficult to form a solid bond with a child if you aren't helping with the transition. Knowing you have someone who loves your child and has their best interest at heart should bring you peace of mind your child is being taken care of when they aren’t with you.
Seeing your child love another woman will never feel awesome, it's easy to feel like you are being replaced when he/she isn't with you but also remember this woman is someone else in your child's life who loves him/her. Embrace that love. A child can never have too much love.
You both want what is best for your child. That's it, that's the sentence.
Co-parenting is a team effort, and the stepmom in your life puts in the hours, blood, sweat, and tears too. (car-pool, doctor’s appointments, science projects, and puke clean up puke at 3 am) So, please don't leave her out. Like it or not, she has earned a spot on the team.
She doesn't want to take your place, only to have a spot of her own. Unconditional love won't be genetically mutated into your child's DNA towards her; she has to earn it. Don't make this harder. When she has finally carved out her own spot in your child's heart, it's a huge milestone she’ll forever cherish. Don't take it from her.
Show her grace and patience, it's a learning curve for her too.
Good luck to all moms, bio, step, adoptive, and foster alike!