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?