I Used to be Single, Smart and Sexy: The Biggest Mistakes I Made When I Became a Stepmom (And How I Fixed Them!) described all the mistakes the author made when she became stepmom to her husband’s 4 year old twins…and short of quitting my job (which she did), I’m guilty of each of them. I wanted to fill what I believed were my (now ex-) husband’s expectations of my role as a stepmom (including him wanting me to refer to her by name instead of recognizing she is my stepdaughter). My role as a stepmm was very different from my role as a mom. While I’m STILL trying to find myself again amid my kids’ needs and myself returning to school, I agree with the author’s advice of “take off the apron and just be yourself”. Forget Martha and just do it YOUR way!
I understand that many stepmoms have issues with their husband’s ex. I didn’t. Since getting divorced from him, we suddenly have something in common (ssoooo many things in common with respect to our relationships with him…snicker!). We don’t spend time together now but it’s part of our new “normal” in my little family that my stepdaughter’s mom is in attendance at my kids’ birthday party, she has my kids overnight so all three kids can spend time together, etc. This is probably the exception to the rule so I found the article Restraining Orders: My Partner’s Ex Is Harrassing Me! interesting as it gave some obvious (domestic violence) and not-so-obvious examples of behaviours that can be used to make a case for a restraining order.
In Presents of Mind: A Father’s Take on Toys and Traditions, a father describes the joy he had receiving “the greatest birthday present ever for a 9 year old” from his childhood. When he became a father, he still remembered that joy but eventually got his kids gift cards to their favourite stores for Hannukah. They appreciated the gesture but their happiness was delayed. When they went to the store and were able to redeem the gift cards, that’s when their happiness began…until his wife did an “Anne-tervention”, basically reminding him of the joy he had as a kid when he opened presents. Personally, I like to give the kids presents we can all use as a family or for one-on-one time so it’s less about the present and more about family time…BUT that also doesn’t stop me from getting my daughter some Bratz dolls and my son his favourite candy, because they are kids after all!
Love the suggestions made in Holidays Do’s and Don’ts: Keep Calm and Carry On This Season, including:
- Create your own holiday traditions
- Surround yourself with supportive friends and family around whom you feel at home and loved
- Have a friend who has agreed to be “on call” for you in case things get too stressful and you need some extra support
- Be flexible with the schedule and understand that holidays are not about a day on the calendar but a day when you can all be together (my family did this…one year when I was married, we were all sick with the flu for weeks over Christmas so, by the time we had stopped infecting eachother, it was near the end of January before we had Christmas with my parents!)
Babysteps to Gratitude is about a stepmom’s emotional journey from infertility through to realizing she “had a family, whole and complete just the way they were”, and cancelled her appointment at the fertility clinic after Thanksgiving Dinner with her family. Tear-jerker!
There is great gift list, specific for us stepmoms. Personally, I’m focusing on the book entitled “StepMonster” by Wednesday Martin because, well, the title. Totally judging a book by its cover. But there are other fantastic books which will be going on my ever increasing “To Read” list:
- Big Shoes by Lisa Bradshaw
- Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace by Gayla Grace and Heather Hetchler
- Skirts at War by Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Jenna Korf
- Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorced Parents can Raise Happy and Secure Kids (A Guidebook)
- The Smart Stepmom by Ron L Deal and Laura Petherbridge
I wasn’t a girl who fantasized about her wedding when I was a kid. My girlfriends all had this fantasy about their future husbands, their perfect wedding day, the “amazingness” of being married. I think the closest I got was like how the dress in Beauty and the Beast moved when they were dancing and I had a fleeting thoughts that I would like that for my wedding dress…which I never did. In Stepmoms and Grief: The Real Reasons Stepfamily Life Makes Us Sad outlines the sense of grief stepmoms can experience when those dreams they had as a kid are not reality, and the non-understanding from their family and friends, who tend to just negate the stepmom’s feelings with statements such as “I’m sorry you’re having a rough time, but you knew when you married him that he had children and an ex-wife”. Unless you’re a stepmom, you can’t relate. The key to overcoming this form of grief is to work on yourself and your own thought process.
Nobel Goals: How High (or Low) Are We Reaching? asks the questions to consider so you can help get your family through the tough times, or even a crisis:
- Why did you get into this marriage?
- What do I want this marriage to mean?
- What do I want my family to stand for?
- What qualities are important to instill in our children?
Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.