As stepmoms, we need to have many tools for dealing with the myraid of situations we will face. Here are a few that I think every stepmom needs to have:
- A Strong Support System~This is a must. In order to survive the tumult of being in a blended family, it is necessary to have this in place. Support can come in many forms–friends in the same situation, an understanding spouse, the internet, literature about blended families, or support groups. Really, just pick one.
- Rewards~Lets face it, things can get hectic in many of our situations, so we have to do something to take care of us! We all may deserve kudos for what we do, yet we sometimes receive not even a simple thanks. With that in mind, give yourself a pat on the back! My “pats” include manicures, pedicures, new books, magazines, and green tea lattes from Starbuck’s.
- A Place to Purge~You have to vent and here are some healthy ways to do it–blogging, journaling, exercising, and cleaning just to name a few. I am of the opinion that if you don’t get poisonous energies out of your system, they will reveal themselves in other forms. When I am overloaded with stepfamily stress, I often lose my appetite and have trouble sleeping. That in turn makes me irritable and edgy. Who wants to be around a sour puss? I don’t, so I choose to find a way to channel the negative energy.
- A Sense of Humor~ I am not the most humorous person in the world. In fact, the liitle humor that I do have is rather dry. However, I understand the need to laugh. It helps relieves stress and can put things into the right perspective. Besides, every thing is not a dire emergency and heck, some things are just funny!
- Grace~This concept in itself is a beautiful thing. Grace allows you to be forgiving, humble, and understanding. It allows me to look at Eliza with pity. It helps me appreciate what my stepsons have been through.
- A Mirror~From time to time we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves. We need to monitor what we are reflecting.
- Discernment~You have to know what battles are worth fighting and which ones are best left alone.
- Integrity~It is hard to maintain one’s integrity in the face of trying times–just ask me. But I feel better when I operate in this manner. I stopped playing the tit for tat game long ago. When Eliza slaps me in the face, as she so often does, I don’t turn the other cheek. I simply move out of striking range.
- Thick Skin~I am not a lizard so I have a hard time with this one. I am a sensitive person although I rarely let it show. But I’ve learned that you can’t break down at the hint of every perceived slight. If you can imagine, it is not always about you.
- A Sense of Self~If you are not confident in who you are, it is easy to become vulnerable to the attacks of others. Eliza can smell fear and uses it to her advantage. I credit knowing who I am to help combat her wiles. I know who I am and who I refuse to be. Once she understood that she could not get a crazy reaction out of me, she relunctantly retreated. Had I been weak and insecure, I would have been another one of her victims.
- A Solid Marriage~This is probably the most important tool in the kit. With this in place, I believe that a stepmom can get through any situation. A solid marriage acts as a fortress for any stones that the exwife may hurl. Out of all the tools I have, Eliza is most threatened by this one. She knows that it is impossible to penetrate walls of love and committment.
- A Backbone~Don’t be a weeping willow, be a steel magnolia. A backbone comes in handy with an unruly exwife or the kids. For example, once the boys and I were at the mall two days after Christmas. Evan was being whiny because I would not buy him any toys. He actually told me that I “needed to buy him something,” in a rather demanding tone. What nerve! I informed him that I had already bought him something two days prior and that he needed to remember who he was talking to. I also pointed out that if he didn’t alter his attitude that he wouldn’t be cruising the mall with us any time soon. Needless to say, he did a 360.
- A Bridge~Sometimes you need to break out the bridge to get over troubled waters. Even if things don’t calm down, just the fact that you have the bridge to stand on means you don’t have to be in the midst of the chaos. The bridge is also useful when you need to get things done for the good of the whole.
- A Fence~I put up the fence when Eliza is not on her best behavior. It protects me from her need to control, manipulate, aggravate, deviate, and lie. The best thing about my fence is that it is not permanent. When she is ready to play nicely, I pack it away.
- A Good Right Hook~LOL, just checking to see if you are still reading!