The Busy Stepmom

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They say that stepmoms spend way too much time thinking about their husband’s ex wife.  I find I spend way too much time  thinking about all things stepfamily related, such as:

* should I be doing something else to help my stepkids adjust?

* should I be extending more olive branches to my husband’s ex wife so the children can see we don’t hate each other?

* should I be supporting my husband more?

* should I be planning more family events to help solidify our blending process?

* should I be creating new rituals for our family so we blend more?

*what should I do???

I can be pretty good at convincing myself that if I just do more, if I’m a better stepmom, then my family will be more healthily adjusted.  My husband will have less conflict in his life.  My stepkids will have less loyalty conflict.  We will all be one big happy blended family when I wave my magic Stepmom wand!  I convince myself that I have control over this whole thing…if I could just do more.  And then my sinful little well-intentioned heart realizes, that God is in control, not me.  Sometimes I stop and realize that all of my “doing” is getting in the way of God’s doing.  And maybe all of my “doing” and my busyness is because I’m not trusting Him enough.

Today I’m stopping and resting in His promises.  I’m really believing that He is in control, that He has good plans, and that He is taking care of us all.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV):  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

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

Psalm 91:4a (NIV):  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.

I’m thankful that He is in control, not me.  Today I will rest in this.

What are you thankful for today?

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The Sober(ing) Stepmom

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Today is the final day of 2014.  It was a year filled with joy, blessings, and difficulties for our family.  In our blending process, it seems we take a couple of steps forward, then a couple steps backwards.  We seem to be going along great, then someone throws us a curve ball.  I suppose like any life process, this is normal.  They say that it’s never a linear process to go through things like the stages of grief or the blending of a family.  But still those steps backwards are painful, unanticipated, and tough, especially when forces outside your home impact things that occur in your house.  And is it my imagination, or do the holidays seem to bring out some drama…perhaps because it’s an emotion-filled time.

It’s sobering to pause and be thankful for our blessings (rather than focus on the temporal crises where we sometimes get stuck).  We have so much to be thankful for. We have our family, wonderful friends, health, shelter over our heads, and we have food on the table.  We have amazing promises from our Savior, like these:

Isaiah 54: 10a (NIV):  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken

Isaiah 54: 17a (NIV):  no weapon forged against you will prevail

Today I am so thankful for the Lord’s eternal promises.

What are you thankful for?

The Frazzled Stepmom

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Today I’m reflecting on the stress we stepmoms face and how we come through it.  Seriously, how do we bear the stress and not fall to pieces (more than occasionally)?  It’s a miracle really.  And I find that once again I am thankful for my husband. My hand picked by God, just for me, husband.

I’m thankful for the many “closed door talks” we have had, especially in our early years of marriage.  (Ok, let’s get real, we would not only close the door, but then we’d lock it, and then go sit in the back of our walk-in closet…or little ears heard everything.  And even then, we would whisper.).  And to be really honest, we still do this.

I’m thankful that we were firm about the importance of our “closed door talks.”  This has been foundational for our marriage and our family.  Behind closed doors, we have had many discussions about the possible ramifications of our actions as well as our nonactions.  And then after discussing these things together, we chose a path to take.

Things like:

If we choose to do or say X, what will the children learn about a daddy’s role?

What will this demonstrate to them about how a father should act?

What will this demonstrate to them about how a husband should treat his wife (even though she might not be his first wife) and his children?

If we choose to do X, what will this teach them about the importance of marriage?

If we choose to take no action, what will this teach them about a Christian spirit?

If we choose to do or say X, the children won’t be happy and we won’t be the favorite parents, but what’s more important?  Making the healthy parenting decision or being popular?

If we choose to do X (or not do X), how will this impact the kind of mate they choose some day?

If we choose action (or inaction), will it teach them that parents (even step parents) can take care of kids?  (or would they feel that kids have to take care of parents?)

The list goes on and on.

Bottom line, I’m grateful that God provided me with a mouth big enough to voice my opinions and a husband big enough and humble enough to listen to me, and brave enough to share his heart and thoughts with me.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9 (a)-10  “Two are better than one…If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

What are you thankful for?

The (Un) Balanced Stepmom

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I think it requires a lot of balance to be a stepmom.  Maybe it’s something we stepmoms learn along the way because we have to.  Maybe we never master it.  I’m not sure.

I have been reflecting on stepmoms a lot this holiday season.  Several stepmoms have shared with me their stressful Christmas and holiday stories.  The central theme seems to be difficulties with parenting plans (in other words, “mom’s days” and “dad’s days” as decided by the court or the parents, this is the “parenting plan.”).  Stepmoms have been telling me about the lovely Christmas plans they made for their families and then finding out last minute that the stepkids would not be there because the ex made other plans for the kids even though it wasn’t her day.

This is one of the ugly realities that stepmoms live with.  If you are not a stepmom and you’re reading this, brace yourself.  We stepmoms plan lovely meals, family days, birthday parties, Christmas dinners, vacations, and so on…and then our stepkids aren’t always allowed to attend.   When these things happen, even the most balanced stepmom can feel unbalanced. It’s deflating and deeply sad for stepmoms.  It’s like the rug gets pulled right out from under you. It’s a struggle to be upbeat or joyous during a family time, when only part of your family is allowed to be there.

Some of us deal with parental alienation where the other parent purposely plans something more fun on that same day to lure the kids away.  Others have exes who just don’t cooperate with the parenting plan.  And we all know that it’s easier to let it slide than to retain the lawyer for several thousand dollars again.

So today I’m thinking about the sweet stepmoms who have shared their stories of holiday disappointment with me.  I have been there, I know that pain too well.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV)  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

John 16:33 (NIV)  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Today I am thankful for God’s comfort in this fallen world and for the girlfriends God has placed in my life.

What are you thankful for?

The Zookeeper Stepmom

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You know the story about the people sitting in the room with the elephant?  It goes something like this.  People were sitting all around the elephant.  Each with a different view.  Someone sitting in front of the elephant marveled at the beautiful head, the huge ears, and the magnificent trunk.   She began to talk about how beautiful it was as she described its features.  Then the person sitting behind the elephant exclaimed, “That’s not what the elephant looks like at all!  It has a large backside, and a tiny little tail.  That is what an elephant looks like.”  How interesting that to each person, the same elephant looked very different depending on where they were sitting.

I ponder my beautiful, ever slowly, but steadily, blending stepfamily.  At times I wonder if I am seeing a beautiful long trunk but someone else is staring at the big bu– and not enjoying the view as much.

As a stepmom, I have learned (with time) that in a blended family we don’t all share the same view.  Take for example, the joy that a newly married couple experiences when after a hard divorce they find a new love to spend the rest of their life with!  This overwhelming joy can be experienced by many stepmoms and dads when their marriage begins.  But at the same time, the stepkids can be experiencing mixed emotions.  They can experience confusion and deep sorrowfulness at the time their dad marries their stepmom.  For them, the focus might not be a joyful union, but the deeply sad end of their family as they knew it.

Romans 12:15 (NIV) says:  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a zookeeper stepmom, making sure each unique “animal” is ok and taken care of.  And I try to remember that someone might have the view of the elephant’s backside today, that it’s not pleasant, and they need all the extra grace and kindness they can get.  I am thankful for God’s direction to walk along side those who are rejoicing or mourning.

What are you thankful for today?