I like to consider myself a good person and I try to translate this as much as possible in my step-parenting. I have 2 step sons aged 7 and 9 and I have been lucky enough to have them accept me into their lives from day one. We have them for half the school holidays and some weekends. I like to cook for them (in particular watch them wolf down my meals!), help them with their school work, go on child centered outings with them and enjoy playing games with them when at home. I am no stranger to disciplining them (although I have never and would never smack them) e.g. by telling them to pick up their rubbish and when they are being unkind to each other (which fortunately is not that regularly). Unfortunately we are in a situation where I have to carry the financial can at the moment, including when it comes to the children. In short, I strive to be the best step mother a human can be, and I fully believe that the children strive to be the best step children they can be.
However, after all my trying, I am still beating myself up and really hating myself, because although I am good to them and do my best to look after them, I still have feelings of jealousy towards the children. For example, I emotionally struggle to see the father carry them about, see them clinging to him and struggle with interruptions from the children when we are having a conversation. I feel resentful towards having to financially support children who are not mine. There have been occasions where I have snapped at them, only to realize later what I have done, and I apologize to them, to which they greet me back into the fold with a hug. Although in one respect this makes me feel happy that they can forgive me so readily, it makes me feel really angry that I find it so emotionally hard to be a step mum.
I am really really trying, and I place no part of the blame on the children, they are not perfect, but that is part and parcel of being a human being, and given the situation, they have shown remarkable resilience in the face of their parents breaking up and then accepting new stepparents into their lives. The problem lies with me. On a day to day basis, by my actions I am doing fine, but emotionally, I find it very hard not to be jealous and feel like a tantrum throwing child.
I am desperate to know if anyone else has been in the same situation and how they have dealt with it?
I think it might help to look to the future too - these children are not a temporary "problem" that you put up with. Assuming you stay with their father then they are in your life for ever. I am a step daughter and I am sure at the beginning my step mum could well have said many of the things you have written. I was 10 when she came into our lives, my brothers were younger. I am sure there was a lot of resentment on both sides while we learned about each other and got to know each other. She also had to support my dad for a period while he was out of work - which probably meant that she was also supporting us too. But we have become a blended family and she is now my other mother and as much a grandparent to my children as my own mother. She is very much loved and valued and we have a good relationship. I often tell her that if she and my dad were to split (not likely) that we would fight for custody of her and dad would have to go off on his own!
It takes time to become a family - with your own children you have all the baby years to get to know them but with step children you are chucked in the deep end.
I think most Mum's (biological and step) and guilty of not doing enough for themselves and then feeling guilty when we do treat ourselves. It's something that my GP and my counsellor have mentioned time after time to me, that I need to put myself first a little more and as my counsellor pointed out - it actually teaches the kids that we are important. I really should listen to my own advice lol
Nell, I am not a step parent, but I just wanted to say that if you were step parent to my DD, I would be really happy. XP has a new partner, and DD spends 2-3 nights a week with them. She is lovely, and you sound lovely too, very thoughtful and kind.
"There have been occasions where I have snapped at them, only to realize later what I have done, and I apologize to them, to which they greet me back into the fold with a hug."
I do this with my own DD. Usually because I am stressed about work or in my dealings with somebody else. It's completely normal in my view. I don't think it's healthy for kids to see anybody - parents, stepparent, teacher - who is always calm and happy. Children need to learn that adults have emotions and make mistakes too.
I think it's totally ok not to love your stepchildren as your own - to be honest, as a parent I would prefer it if my DD has a loving relationship with her step-mother, which is nonetheless different to the one she has with her parents. To my mind, it's more akin to the sort of relationship you would have with an aunt or a godmother or a very dear family friend. (I realise this is very dependent on residence arrangements, and anyway it's not up to me!)
Looking after stepchildren and taking so much financial responsibility can't be easy at all. You are being way too hard on yourself - you sound like you are doing a brilliant job.