Unless you’re brand-spanking-new in your stepmomming journey, you have likely been faced with the awkwardness that is “back-to-school night.”
No matter how high-functioning your blended family may be, there’s something about getting everyone together in a professional setting that can feel a little… off. Like the StepMom Magazine tagline says, “Even when it’s good, it’s complicated.”
At back-to-school night, you have to find a way to introduce your blended family to the teacher as a united front. Regardless of what may be going on at home, you want your child’s teacher to know that he is in a two-home family, BUT his education will not be impacted by it at all… we promise!
For some reason, school functions bring out the petty in us. We begin to pinpoint our co-parents' flaws. All of the comparisons to your stepchild’s mom that you had tucked away in your subconscious come flooding back to the surface.
Back-to-school night is the first of many milestones throughout the academic year. Once you make it through that night, your first thought is, “Whew! Glad that’s over!” Unfortunately, that bliss is quickly shattered by that first Tuesday Folder containing information on PTA meetings, class parties, and the first field trip of the year.
Every single one of these events can trigger anxiety in the heart of a stepmom. Every. Single. One.
Today, I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should go to school functions as a stepmom (just kidding, I am… you should!). But what I’m really here to tell you is that you’re not alone in your anxious feelings or bitter thoughts.
From my stepmom tribe to you, here’s what every stepmom is thinking at a school function.
What Every Stepmom is thinking at a School Function
She brought her new boyfriend to back-to-school night?! But she “forbid” me to come before my husband and I were married!
Okay, there’s the teacher. Act natural. Be confident. Your role of stepmom matters!
*Steps back to make sure that the teacher is introduced to Mom and Dad before meeting you*
*Hands over the school supplies you bought with your stepchild so that his mom can help him load his desk and cubby*
Let me take an innocent peek over her shoulder to make sure she’s including me as a parent on the form.
Only two lines for parents? Makes sense. Okay, I’ll just stay here until she gets to the emergency contact page.
Aww man, I’ve been so consumed with her that I have completely missed the entire conversation between my husband and the teacher. Sounds important!
Speaking of important, why couldn’t my husband fill out all of this paperwork?
You want to put your new boyfriend on the approved pick-up list?! Wait… you’re writing his name above mine?! Wow.
I wish my stepson would hold my hand in the hall like he’s holding hers!
*10 minutes later, stepson holds hand. Immediate feelings of guilt rush in.* Oh no, I may be upsetting his mom. Better stop holding hands!
Whew, that wasn’t so bad. I’m so glad we all get along so well!
*Notice arrives in Tuesday Folder* I wonder if my husband and I could both take off work and chaperone!
Oh wait, what if his mom wants to chaperone, too? Two is company, but three’s a crowd.
Should I just text her and ask if she is planning on chaperoning?
Maybe if I don’t scan a copy of this field trip flyer to her, she’ll never know about it. Solid plan.
Since my husband can’t go, should I still volunteer? What if his mom wants to go? Would we chaperone the same group, or would I get stuck with a group that doesn’t include my stepson?
She confirmed that she’s going. So I guess I don’t need to. How important is this field trip, anyway?! I guess I’ll pass. Maybe she will let me go on the next one…
*First thought after reading the flyer* I wonder if my stepson’s mom will be there?
Of course she will be there. She rarely misses an event.
But I’m sure she will be late. So, so late.
*Pulls up the calendar to see “whose day” it falls on*
It’s a transition day, that’s great! That means I can help him get ready beforehand.
I can’t wait to help him learn his songs! We will pencil “musical practice” in 3x a week after school.
The day is here! Let me get him ready so I can take All. The. Pictures. Yay for iPhone portrait mode!
*Walking in* Should we save a seat for his mom? I wonder if her boyfriend is coming? How many seats should we save?
Ehh, let’s just pick seats with several empty ones around us, but not work too hard to keep them reserved. After all, she will definitely be late.
*20 minutes into the musical* Ahh, there she is. Oh good, she sat away from us.
*Stares at her until she sees you, just to wave hello*
He did so great! I’d really like to get a picture with him.
Oh wow, so my father-in-law just asked my husband, my stepson, and his mom to take a picture together. Sure, I’ll just stand here holding all of the coats.
*Takes selfie with stepson. Hopes someone offers to take our picture. No one does.*
Oh well, I’m sure it’s not because I’m the stepmom. I’m pretty sure all “real moms” feel like their husbands don’t take enough pictures of them.
Well, this was a little awkward, but I’m sure my stepson is happy I’m here!
*Waves goodbye to stepson as he skips off with his mom, forgetting to give you a hug*
At times, school functions leave stepmoms feeling unappreciated and overwhelmed. These formal events serve as reminders that your family is not “normal.” This isn’t the fairytale you dreamed of as a kid.
I have left school functions in tears, enraged, and humiliated.
But you know what the good news is? They’re not all that bad. I have also left school functions feeling joyful. Thankful for how we are able to put egos and feelings aside to support our children.
The thoughts and feelings you have at school functions are totally normal and are not indicative of how far you have (or have not) come in your stepmomming journey. How you choose to act on those thoughts and feelings does.
Did you catch that? How you choose to act on those thoughts and feelings matters. As with most sensitive topics in blended family life, you have the choice to protect your peace.
And on those days where your thoughts and feelings get the best of you, remember that you’re not alone. I’m here for you. A whole community of stepmoms is here for you.
Now, go get more dolled up than you have since your wedding, and go act totally casual at the PTA meeting! (Just kidding, of course. Your Dog Mom hoodie is just fine. It’s your heart that counts.)