It is that time of year again, all of the stores are moving summer items to clearance, and back to school is in full swing. For the next week or so we will see the cute and seemingly obligatory “first day of school” photo that our friends and family members will post on social media. For blended families the first day of school can be exciting (depending on your situation), uncomfortable, a source of tension, or, like ripping off a bandaid you just want it done and over with! If any of this sounds relatable to your situation, just know that you are not alone! I have felt all of the above at some point during my journey of stepmotherhood.
I always think back to those first few years of being a stepmom, or as I like to describe them, the most intense and emotional time in adjusting to blended family life. The reason the first day of school always got to me was because (1) I felt that me being such a hands on stepmom meant that I deserved to be able to drop off my stepson on the first day of school, and (2) I constantly worried about what the other parents and teachers thought of me. I thought, if they didn’t see me enough, they wouldn’t take me seriously as a parent. I attribute most of these internal feelings to my experience attending a religious school in the 90s, and being made aware that I was the only child with a stepmom and divorced parents!
By the time my stepson was ready to go to kindergarten 2 (in New England some schools have two years of kindergarten), my husband’s ex wife had moved into a new town 35 minutes away. It had been decided, per the parenting agreement, that he was to attend school in the town where she lived. This also began the trend of her having him for the first day of school every year. This bothered me even more because my husband and I do not live in the same school district, naturally causing me to feel even more like an outsider.
How Did I Get Over it?
Over time I realized that my insecurities are just that ... insecurities, and the reality is that it does not matter which parent drops him off for his first day of school. It also does not matter what the school thinks of our blended family, nor the parents. It only matters how my stepson feels, because this is about him starting a new year of school, not about me or anyone else. It has been several years and I have since become friends with a few of the other parents and they have been extremely warm and welcoming towards me. For the past two years, I contacted the teacher and explained that my stepson lives in two houses with two sets of parents who love him. I plan to do the same each year!
Also, for me to drive 35 minutes to school just so I can take him for the first day is not going to be as much fun for him as it is to walk to school with his friends, some of which he has not seen all summer. I also thought to myself, one day if my husband and I are fortunate enough to have more children, those first day of school memories will be made with them. Until then, I will spend the first day of the school year on myself by going to the beach or the pool, enjoying the end of summer, which is more than okay with me!