The Loving Stepmom

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I have to admit, there’s a lot I don’t love as a Stepmom.  How about these for a few:

* Schedule changes at the other house (and how they impact my plans again and again, ugh).

* Doing nice things for someone else’s kids (and often times getting the short end of the stick).

* Being an outsider in my own house (wow does that get old, hello I’m right here, I’m in this room too!).

*Not having as much control over my life as I used to (now there are parenting plans, people inside my house, people outside my house that all have a bearing on the day to day schedule).

But there are some things I do love.  I love that God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and a chance for a second marriage.  I adore our “ours babies”.  Here’s one more thing I think about a lot:  The great challenge to love people who don’t love you back.  Anyone can love their friends, family and people who love them back.  But I believe that God commands us to love one another, period.  John 13:34 (NIV) says “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  And when I read this carefully I notice it does not say “Love one another…only those who are easy to love” nor does it say “Love one another…only those who are kind to you, respectful to you, and who love you back.”  God commands us to love one another, period.  It also says “as I have loved you.”  I’m pretty sure God has loved me on my not so nice days, my not so respectful days, and in my choosing sinfulness moments.  And that is humbling.

Today I am thankful for this challenge to keep loving others in imperfect circumstances.  What a great opportunity to try over and over to love others even when it’s not easy.

What are you thankful for today?

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The Yogi Stepmom

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Today as I did my flow, warrior II, downward facing dog, child’s pose, plank…I pondered what yoga might have in common with the stepmom journey.  I love the acceptance in yoga.  The statements from the leader like “maybe today you are meant to just sit here in this room and rest and in that you will be practicing your yoga beautifully.”  And I can’t help but wonder if that’s what a stepmom’s journey should be like at times.  Just sit.  Just be.  Just rest in your place.  Rest in the storm.  And maybe, just maybe if you rest long enough and find peace & beauty in that storm….the 4-7 years of average adjustment will pass and a new beautiful chapter will arrive.

Today I am thankful for peaceful moments and letting myself off the hook from that pressure to do, do, do.  Learning to just be.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still and know that I am God.”

What are you thankful for today?

The Imperfect Stepmom

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Today I ponder some Bible verses.  Philippians 4:8 (NIV) says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Oh how I wish my stepmom (and wife, mommy, daughter, sister, friend, employee) brain was always solely focused on such.  This is definitely a goal for me.  But if I’m really honest, this is not where I’m at some of the time. Sometimes I’m more focused on what is dark, something I can complain about or something that’s on my last nerve!

Then I think about Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”   Oh the missed opportunities to build people up.

And in Romans 7:19 (NIV) Paul admitted bravely “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”  We are saved by grace yet we continue to live with sinful natures in a sinful world.  And as a stepmom, most of us would probably agree that life and family matters are more complex and stressful that we ever anticipated.  And in the midst of that stress, I will admit I don’t always say and do the Perfect Stepmom Thing.  Oh how I wish I was perfect.  But, I’m far from it.  There are times I can focus too much on my missteps as a stepmom.  Probably not a great place to focus.  Probably more effective to make Phil. 4:8 and Eph. 4:29 my mantras….or tattoo them on my forehead!

Today I am thankful for these wonderful guides and I probably won’t go get a tattoo (as much as I’d love to) but I might just write these down and tape them to my mirror!

What are you thankful for today?

My Stepfamily Is So Normal….Said No Stepmom Ever

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Sometimes it can feel like a stepfamily is going in circles.  Parents struggle to establish boundaries.  Boundaries between the newly married couple and the kids; boundaries between the couple and the ex.  Dad feels that stress of keeping his bride happy and yet maintaining relationships with his kids.  Stepmom gets a crash course in “outsider” status. Learning that you are the outsider in your own house is definitely not fun. So, I did some reading.

One of my favorite stepfamily books is Becoming A Stepfamily by Patricia L. Papernow (2003 Gestalt Press). Papernow goes over the “Stepfamily Cycle.” Believe it or not, as messy as it all may seem, there are actually developmental tasks that stepfamilies try to accomplish in each stage. Reducing power struggles, figuring out roles, establishing those boundaries, letting go of fantasies about how a stepfamily should be, recognizing the sense of loss that stepfamily members can feel, stepmom finding her place in the family, making changes, forging relationships. This was great news to me. These difficult processes were important and needed to happen. And it wasn’t a linear process. We would go forward, and backward and forward again. And the best news of all: this expert said that the process normally took anywhere from 4-7 years on average. We weren’t weird or abnormal…this is what a stepfamily is supposed to go through.

As awkward or painful as it feels at times, I remind myself that these growing pains are relatively “normal” (if there is such as thing as a “normal” family) for 4-7 years. And for as tough as it’s been, I can honestly say that for our family things have evened out in our 4th year. Year four feels so much more peaceful than year one. Things are falling into place.

Today I am thankful that I’m learning to be comfortable in the discomfort.

Philippians 4:19 (MSG):  “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need…”

What are you thankful for today?