Marc has two daughters from his first marriage, and we see his ex frequently at family functions. It's... an odd situation, because while it's lovely and great for the kids that it's so amicable, it's a confusing place for me to be. I don't know quite where I fit in sometimes. This has gotten better as time goes on, Marc and I have been together almost ten years now, so there's little doubt that I'm there as his wife, but I still feel awkward and uncomfortable at parties that we both attend.
So I've developed some tricks to get thru it. Number one, I always make sure to reward myself every single time. Either the day of the function or the day afterwards, I get to take the afternoon off, no kids, and indulge myself somehow. Sometimes it's a pedicure, sometimes it's a movie, sometimes it's an ice cream cone or take out chinese and a good book. But I always make sure to indulge myself in something just for me. It's gotten a lot easier over the years, but it's never easy going anywhere where I'm primarily known as the second wife.
Number two, I'm not afraid to discreetly disappear during the party if I need some space. Granted, it helps a lot that I've got an eight year old with dramatic tendencies and a slight persecution complex, five year old who hates parties, and I've got a toddler who's still a nursing girl. I bring a book and if I need to go chill out in the car for a while, I just pick up a kid and head out. Oddly enough, my kids love just hanging in the car, I plop them in the front seat and just relax for a bit. Nobody questions it, and I'm able to regroup.
Number three - I fake it well. Stick a smile on my face, and remain relentlessly pleasant. Sometimes it's easier than others - but mostly, I try to make it look as though I LOVE hanging out with someone who used to have sex with my husband. Someone who's his partner in raising children, and someone that we'll be involved with, to one extent or another, for the rest of our lives. Being a stepmother is complicated and hard, but on the upside, were I not a stepmother - I wouldn't be a wife or mother either, and honestly, having my stepdaughters is well worth the awkwardness.