Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm Going To Call Your Dad Grandpa

Darling stepdaughter had the chance to spend some time with my parents a while back and I love that they feel very grandparently towards her and she loves them like grandparents. Last week she said to me, "I'm going to start calling your Dad and Mom Grandpa and Grandma. They are like grandparents to me."

I loved hearing that from her. A year or so ago she was with my aunts and uncles and called my dad Grandpa with them. It was such a surprise even though I know she's been feeling that way. I love letting her come to these conclusions on her own and finding her way through her step-family life. I want her to do what is comfortable to her, as long as it is respectful of course.

She is at an age where she is learning to be more aware of the choices grownups around her make and who she respects and doesn't respect. More importantly, over time, she is learning who she can depend on and trust with her well-being and safety. She sees long strings of bad decisions, long histories of broken relationships, and lack of progress in life and recognizes that these are not the kind of people she wants to surround herself with. That gives me even more peace about -- and respect for this young lady we are raising.

It's moments like these when I know all the pain and suffering have been worth it. When I see a young lady who is loving, generous, kind and bonds with people she knows are good and kind. I am happy that she reaches out to those people who support and care about her and show it in their actions and life choices.

The love and thanks she so often gives to me for the things I do for her are the frosting on the cake. Life is good when I keep my stepmom goals in perspective and don't let minor annoyances and frustrations get the best of me.

image via mclipart

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dealing With Mom's Snide Comments

Over the years I've been the subject of plenty of snide comments from our bio mom. She's been especially bad lately making comments about who the real mother of my stepdaughter is and how selfish my intentions are in stepparenting her. I'm pretty sure that feeding, clothing and caring for a kid is not filled with evil intent and I have enough very positive feedback about my efforts from all sides so I try to overlook the rudeness and silliness of her comments.  But mean comments from bio moms are probably one of the biggest challenges a stepmother will face - and the most hurtful.

In my mind, my job as a step-parent is to give my husband's daughter all the love, caring and guidance I can give her. We've been together for a long time now and in the face of a very unstable bio mom, our gal has turned to me for trust, safety and stability. I'd love it if she needed less of that from me and had more of that from her biological mom, but it is what it is.

After a particularly vicious attack recently by our bio mom, I got in my car shaking and in tears. Thankfully my husband was there to comfort me but it took me a while to get past it. At the end of the day the thought came to me that I must refuse to allow other's evil to poison my life or my soul. I just don't have time to entertain meanness directed at me from someone who has made such a total mess of their own life. Once I was able to get that perspective back I was able to let go of the shock, hurt and offense that gripped me that day.

I reminded myself too that I don't want to become like bio mom, so I can't allow her to draw me into her ugliness and I can't ever stoop to her level to fight and be nasty. I have been supremely self-controlled on this note, but there have been times where my voice got a little louder and angrier than I wanted. I am happiest when I walk away with my head held high, my integrity intact and my grace in place. I was so blindsided that day that I didn't have time to think, I was in a fight or flight mode because of her sudden attack. But it gave me a chance to think about how I want to act and what I want to do next time. So I'm better prepared for something I know will happen again out of the blue someday.

When I stay in my center, I can weather the storms better and walk away feeling less hurt and stunned. It's important to me that I walk away feeling good about myself regardless of what's said about me. I can do that my mastering my own emotions and behavior. Then I can stand with my head held high, knowing that I'm doing right by my stepdaughter, my husband and perhaps most importantly by myself.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Biological Parents Aren't Perfect Either

image via

Something I've been trying to remind myself of lately is that it's okay not to be a perfect stepparent. No one is expecting perfection and I shouldn't expect it from myself. Should I do my best, keep trying, ask for forgiveness when I screw up and try to do better again - YES!

But I also need to remember that biological parents aren't perfect either. Being a biological parent does not make you immune from screw-ups and in fact that are some really horrible biological parents out there. Being a biological parent does not give you all the keys of the kingdom of great parenting. It does not give you all the answers to your child's needs, understanding of their sometimes crazy behavior, or the solutions to nightmares, frustrated fits, inability to sleep, hormone changes and all the things that happen with children. Biological parents get short tempered, weary of kids shows on TV, incessant questions, kid messes, temper tantrums and exhausting schedules too. Feeling these same emotions does not make me a bad stepparent or unsupportive wife.

As a stepparent I too can study and learn good parenting skills, be patient, thoughtful and kind, act in love, be unselfish, continue to try and try again to do better, and I can forgive myself and be forgiven when I make mistakes. Making mistakes does not make me a bad person or a bad stepparent.

Being a stepparent, which is a very courageous thing to do, can also put one in a position to feel attacked from all sides. You are affected by so many other people's lives and needs, not to mention family courts constant upheavals and frustrations. The one person who should show up to support us every day is ourselves. We need to be our own best friend and biggest cheerleader. No one knows us better, can gauge how hard we are trying or be inspired to help us grow.

So I am going to try to be less critical and remember that biological parents aren't perfect either. I am going to keep working at being a great parent, step or otherwise and try to remember that each day I have the opportunity to do better and grow. That way, challenges of today will be triumphs of tomorrow. 

Do you ever find yourself putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be perfect or beating yourself up when you haven't handled things are graciously as you would've liked to? How do you talk yourself back to center?