(These are excerpts from an article that was originally published in the July 2011 issue of Stepmom Magazine)
Stepmoms often feel very alone in their journey, but they’re not. Here are some common thoughts and emotions that stepmoms experience.
4. “I’m a great stepmom. I can take care of everyone and everything. I’ll show everyone that I can do this! Where’s my cape?”
Say hello to two of the biggest mistakes stepmoms make: assuming they’re able to solve everyone’s problems and trying to do too much.
Give yourself permission to stop doing too much. Stop assuming responsibility for your husband’s happiness, the children’s happiness and the ex’s happiness. Stop assuming responsibility for a cohesive, spotless, perfectly happy household.
There are many things you have no control over, and the more you try to control them the more helpless, powerless and resentful you will become.
Have you noticed what happens when you try to rescue someone from consequences? They never learn. They keep repeating the same behavior over and over again because they know you’ll be there to clean up their mess.
The problems between your husband, his ex and the kids were there long before you showed up. They are not yours to fix.
So step back. Give the members of your stepfamily the opportunity to grow by letting them face the consequences of their actions.
It’s amazing how someone will step up when you step aside.
This rule also applies for those of you who are trying to do everything for your stepchildren. Let someone else take them to Little League or band practice.
You have a right to say no.
In fact, you should say no sometimes because what good are you when you are worn down, angry and feeling taken advantage of?
Take a breather. Let your husband or his ex step up to the plate. I promise you, their worlds will not fall apart while you’re gone.
Not sure you can do that? Start small. Find one thing you do for the family that you wouldn’t mind giving up. Then take a break from it for a week. See how it feels.
It might just make a world of difference.
5. “I am not their maid.”
Typically, women like clean houses. It’s natural for us to immediately scan the room and see 10 things that need to be done now. But your husband doesn’t notice the mess, and the kids are just adding to it because, after all, they’re kids. How do you find that balance between getting some help around the house and not feeling like a nagging wife and stepmom?
Sit down with your husband and tell him what you need. Don’t make it about the kids or him being messy; make it about what you need to be comfortable in your own home.
Then, ask him to help come up with ways to remedy the situation. Ask him to brainstorm ideas with you. This will show him you value him and want his help rather than coming across accusatory of him and his kids of causing you major stress.
After you’ve come up with an agreeable plan, have a family meeting. You could even get the kids involved in the decision making.
Although kids will likely complain about chores, it will teach them responsibility and give them a sense of contributing to the family, which, in turn, will increase their self-reliance and self-esteem.
6. “The ex-wife: Will she ever go away?”
The answer is no. At least not until the kids are 18, when your contact may be reduced to graduations and weddings.
It’s common for a stepmom to feel a bit of jealousy. Here is a woman who was married to your husband first. They had kids together, and that will bond them forever. There is a history that didn’t involve you. The kids compare you to her, and maybe the in-laws do, too.
But nothing good comes from dwelling on the past. Instead, focus on the present. He’s with you now, not her. And what’s the benefit of him being previously married?
Well, perhaps he’s learned from the mistakes he made in his first marriage.
You get the new and improved 2.0 version! And maybe they made some wonderful children together that you absolutely adore.
You and your husband are making your own memories now. You have a future with this amazing man. Look around and appreciate everything you have.
You can’t change the past, but the future is what you make of it.
© 2011 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
(Photo credit: Michal Marcol)
- Stepmoms: You Are Not Alone (Part One)
- Stepmoms: Why Your Husband Is So Important
- Top 10 Best Things About Being a Stepmom
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