If someone would have told me some real truths about being a stepmom, I would have given it a little more consideration before diving in head and heart first.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being a stepmom is horrible. I’m not saying that I don’t love my stepchildren. However, let’s keep it real and say the hard things no one really wants to say.

Stepparenting can be an extremely hard job. It is definitely not for the weak-minded or weak-hearted. You have to be Ford-tough emotionally and mentally to handle what comes with the territory.

Here are five hard truths I wish I would have known about being a stepmom before I was one, the non-Brady Bunch version.

1. You will never be your stepchild(ren)’s mom.

My love for my stepdaughter is as deep as if she came from my own womb. However, she felt that rebelling against me was showing loyalty to her mom. And what child wants to be disloyal to his or her mom? It took years, but I was able to find peace once I realized no matter how much love I show her, no matter how many sleepless nights I spend worrying about her, no matter how many tears I shed for her, regardless of the time, effort and support given to her, I am not her mom.

2. Your best efforts still may not help you build a relationship—so be you.

The general consensus of the stepmoms in my network is we were all afraid to be ourselves in the beginning. Personally, I am an energetic, loud, trivia-loving, happy ball of energy. My stepdaughter was really annoyed by my personality. So I would work so hard not to allow my big personality to overpower the room because I do have a tendency to do that. Well, after making such a conscious effort to change how I normally behave, it was revealed that my stepdaughter was annoyed with how mellow I was. So I quickly realized I should always be me. Putting so much effort into changing me, hoping to gain love, was pointless. She would have to come around in her own time. Until then, everything I did annoyed her.

3. Parents don’t always act like parents. Adults don’t always act like adults.

When you are a main player in the game of raising other people’s children, it is hard to watch the other parent put themselves first while their child is your #1 priority. I was in disbelief that the other parent would be so careless with and unconcerned about her child’s life. Granted, I knew there were people out there who neglected their children, raised their children poorly, and made bad decisions as parents. However, I knew this in a general sense. I won’t go into all of the crazy, mouth dropping, eye popping, infuriating details. What I will say is just because a person is of legal age to be an adult, it doesn’t mean they are going to act like an adult. Most importantly, you can’t make them act like a parent either.

4. No matter how much you do to help your spouse and your stepchild(ren), you may never get the credit you deserve.

Being a stepmom gets tougher when you feel under-appreciated, used, unheard, and emotionally drained. It is easy to feel used because you love hard but things like not being recognized on Mother’s Day or other special occasions occur. The child may never say thank you for being my bonus parent and giving me your all. You have to be OK with knowing that you are a great person for supporting and loving your husband and your stepchild(ren).

5. You can’t just quit.

The feeling of wanting to quit as a stepmom is normal. However, the reality is, if you quit being a stepparent then more than likely the only way out is divorce. There are not many people who will leave their children for their spouse and rightfully so. One thing that is for sure, however, is that it’s OK to feel like you’ve had enough. It’s OK to have weak moments. You are not a bad person for feeling weak during moments of high pressure and stress, that just makes you human. Talking about it with your spouse can sometimes be difficult, but it is the best thing for you and for your relationship. Sometimes you may need to get an unbiased third party involved, like a therapist, to help sort through the weeds of emotions, denial, and personal issues to get to the root of the problem. No matter the road you take, it must be one of communication. Unless you are getting a divorce, quitting is not an option.

Brittany J. P. Reese

Brittany  J.P. Reese is a mom, step-mom, wife, author, writer, editor and entrepreneur. She is a true night owl who loves to laugh and whose best work is created through procrastination during the wee hours of the morning. Her belief is God gives you the tools you need in life. It is up to you to use those tools to build your happiness and pave the way for your children.