Monday, February 18, 2013
Finding the balance as a stepmom
Being a stepmom is one of the toughest jobs in the family. Let me rephrase that. Being a WONDERFUL stepmom is one of the toughest, if not THE toughest jobs in the family. There are millions of articles and information about gaining the respect, love, and adoration of the child or children involved. But I can't seem to find one bit of information for the stepmom who has all of that already and just needs some advice or help with balancing things in the household when you don't have the title of "mom". I am a stepmom of two wonderful children. They are respectful, well mannered, easy to deal with as far as getting ready for school, getting to bed, etc. so what's the big deal? Sounds like I've got it made (you'll see that I really do, but I cause myself undue stress). Here's my boat (maybe you're in it with me): I am a teacher and I know that's where my "everything has a rule and we have schedules to follow in order to get everything accomplished and we have to eat this and don't touch that," comes from. The difference between being a stepmom and being the bio mom is huge. On one hand, you have this grand idea of how you want things ran in your house. You know you don't want the kids eating junk food and playing video games 24/7. You know you want them to wash their hands before and after they eat and use the restroom. You know you want them to keep their academics up and you know you want to teach them the importance of chores, helping out the family, and earning/saving/spending allowance. So the problem lies in that you want all of these things to be controlled so it all gets done, until everything is so controlled that you are not the fun stepmom anymore. You're the nitpicky, don't want to lose control, I didn't raise these children from birth but have to pack in all of my teachings I would have taught them from birth, kind of stepmom. They still love you, but despite trying your hardest to stay one step ahead and implementing everything you find on Pinterest to make your life easier, the reality is that it opens up an ocean of stress. So it's you, in your boat, in an ocean of stress. The ironic thing is that when you finally realize that all those things you thought kept you in control of your house are actually the very things that are stressing you out, you stress about putting it all aside and relaxing. I hope there is someone out there who can relate. I stress about not stressing. I stress about the fact that I may be able to relax. I think it is due to me not feeling comfortable loosening the reigns for fear of getting bucked off. So my husband, the children's father, gave me one rule to follow (he knows I live on rules). Just love them. What?!?!? I thought I had been doing that all along! Just love them. What could that mean? He explained it so eloquently, as he always does. It means that if your love them you're not going to let them play video games for 6 hours straight. You don't need e-tickets (yes, I've tried that). You just need to say, "listen, play for 45 minutes or so and then find something else to do." All of my efforts to make things easier and more structured for me and the kids, was more of a pain and a stressor than it was ever supposed to be. If you love them,you're not going to let them trash the house. You don't need an uh-oh box (yes, guilty again). You just need to say, "pick up your mess." These little things that were supposed to make my life easier and teach the kids lessons on cleaning up and moderation with electronics have certainly accomplished something. They have sucked the fun right out of their stepmom. So, because I've relied on these things and all of my other grand ideas to help run my house the way I thought it should be ran, I've developed this fear of just letting go. Let it go. Another one of my husbands brilliant mantras. Just let it go! Is it really imperative that our daughter cleans her room before watching a movie, before going for a bike ride, before having a snack, AND before getting in the shower??!! OR can I simply say, "If you pick up little by little throughout the day you won't have so much to clean up before bed." Then, if she doesn't and has a huge mess to clean up before bed, she might be able to learn something on her own and make a better choice tomorrow? I think yes. For those that need to be in control all the time for fear of losing control, these are the scariest three words: Let it go. I just had this conversation with my husband last night and have yet to give it a go, but I know when I do it will first stress me out beyond belief, as change is known to do. Then, hopefully, I will be able to relax after seeing that the house will not crumble around me. Fear of the unknown. It's a real thing even in the case of being a stepmom.