Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Biological Parents Aren't Perfect Either

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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?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Five Talents of Super Stepmoms

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I have been thinking about my role as a stepmom lately and about the amazing stepmoms I know. I admire these stepmom ladies so very much and as I try to live up to their awesome examples I see some traits that I definitely want to learn from them. Things that make them Super Stepmoms.

Super Stepmoms are:

1) Patient
It takes a lot to manage all the coming and going in a blended family. Stepmoms with patience learn to accept and manage the circumstances instead of just wishing they were different. Blended family life can be challenging, but a patient stepmom keeps working towards improving family life as a team. It's not easy to hold back when you want to be your husband's number one priority and he needs time with his kids. There are lots of lessons in patience for stepmoms.

2) Loving
Truly loving other people's kids takes a big heart. A Super Stepmom finds a way to put her feelings about her husband's ex away (as much as possible) so that she can love his kids without bitterness towards their mother. When kids know their stepmom cares, they are more easily able to show respect and acceptance. When kids feel the love and support of a stepmom their lives are are transformed and they have a better chance to heal from the pains of their parent's separation and to continue to mature.

3) Mature
Being a Super Stepmom means putting what's best for the family as a whole before your own emotions. It means not being easily offended and being willing to sacrifice for the well-being of the family. Please note this does not mean putting yourself last, it just means being mature enough to not let unregulated feelings and wants put unnecessary stress and pressure on the family unit.

4) A Ray of Sunshine
Being happy and enthusiastic make a world of difference to the people around you. Going out of you way to celebrate family members' successes, making a treat to brighten a heart after a frustrating day, creating laughter and bringing a happy spirit to the home is a fantastic talent of a Super Stepmom. A magnetic personality draws people to a Super Stepmom.

5) Committed For The Long Haul
Being a Super Stepmom means realizing that every day won't be easy, but also that hard days don't mean all is lost. Having an eye for a lifetime of happiness and peace really helps get one through the rough, dark days that come to everyone. Super stepmoms learn to find the joy in ever day and see the light in every person. There's nothing that scares kids more than the idea of seeing their parent go through another divorce and losing another person they've come to depend on. Showing your blended family that you in it, heart and soul, makes for a more secure homebase for everyone.

I love seeing these talents in the Super Stepmoms I know and I so appreciate their amazing examples. There are lots of inspiring stepmoms out there. Look to them and talk to them about how they've done it well. I am sure most still think they could've done a better job or they would've done things differently looking back, but this stepparent life is one in constant motion and comes with no handbook or training. We all have to figure it out and learn what's best for our unique families as we go. I adore the women who are out there trying every day to do it better and live a happy, peaceful life. Super Stepmoms are women who try and keep trying. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they excellently succeed. But they keep on trying with love, patience, cheerfulness and commitment. Hooray for all you Super Stepmoms.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Gets Easier Because You Get Stronger

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One thing I have learned about life over the past three or four years is that things that once created massive amounts of stress for me don't get me as worked up anymore. Days that would leave me sick to my stomach and with a headache are minimally stressful to me now. I realize it's not because those events have gotten easier, but rather it's because I have gotten stronger and better equipped to handle them.

Going to court is one of these events. Another is seeing my stepdaughter's biological mother who has done so much harm to her, my husband, to me and the peace and well-being of our family in general. Occasionally I catch myself and marvel for a moment that I am in the middle of something that used to really push me over the edge and now it feels like just a minor annoyance. When friends say they can't imagine how I've survived what we've been through over the past few years I realize how much I have been through and I see that I am stronger for it. If life is meant to be full of lessons, they will get exponentially more challenging to keep up with our growth.

Some days it just getting through ten minutes, sitting down and then trying again for ten more minutes. But learning to deal with our challenges and stresses is possible and there is a lot of help out there to help us get through it. Join a stepparents group, go to a therapist, get involved in couples or family therapy. Find programs that help strengthen the family and improve marriage relationships. There are thousands of parenting and stepparenting articles online and websites devoted to strengthening marriage and family. There is no reason to suffer in silence. Sometimes as a stepmom it's easier to just get on the "complain & be annoyed" carousel where you are guaranteed to have plenty of company and just keep riding it around and around, never making any progress and continuing to be unhappy. It's not worth it.

You have every capability to thrive through your challenges and improve your life and the life of your family. Take the challenge, reach for new heights. Be an inspired stepmom. There are plenty of miserable stepmoms out there already. That club doesn't need more members. But the inspired stepmoms club is a noble cause, a call of great challenge and one that will help any woman grow into a better more beautiful version of herself!

Sending all you stepmoms out there big love. You have an amazing power to make your family's life a happy one no matter the circumstances.