I’ve been thinking about the progress I have made growing in my role of stepmom. It has been a painful, tedious yet extraordinary time. I look forward to stretching myself to grow more as a stepmom and as an individual in general.
- Solution Seeker: I love this healthy approach! Don’t get me wrong, I regress from time to time, but usually after I finish venting, I still like to end on a positive note. I know that our road will never be smooth and I anticipate the bumps. I try to formulate a plan to overcome them or live with them.
- Stepmom of Evan and Ethan: It took me some time to realize this simple truth. In the beginning, I worked harder at forming a relationship with her than I did with the boys. Admittedly, I thought I could win their heart by winning her over first. I really felt this way with Ethan because Evan already doted on me. While it would be nice for us to have a working relationship; I know that it is more important that I focus my energy on giving the boys the best that I have.
- Serenity: I’ve pretty much accepted that Eliza is who she is and I have to let her be. I can’t change her. However, I can change my reactions to things. I am finally okay with the fact that we may never get beyond our current surface level. But I feel truimphant for trying.
- The Gift of Space: Since I have bequethed Eliza with space, I feel much more peaceful. I don’t feel as “responsible” for her as I used to. I realized that I was probably overwhelming her by being too much of a presence in her life. I thought I was providing her with encouragment and support in her time of need. But I think I was actually smothering her! I know it sounds strange, but I had to sit back and think about it, too. I am a constant reminder of our past and that she is presently not able to be with her children. Now mind you, I did not say I am the reason, but I know she can’t help seeing me this way. Out of compassion and exhaustion, I have taken a back seat. I have forfeited riding shotgun.
- Detachment: I now use this practice when corresponding with her. I can’t control her emotions but I don’t have to play into them either. Also, when I can remove myself from the equation I do just that. I had to learn this the hard way. Case in point: When Eliza was asking for information about Evan, I should have immediatedly gotten something in writing from his therapist. I called myself shielding her from the truth, as I knew she would have trouble accepting it. The last case summary I had provided her with only served to upset her. She questioned the credentials of the therapist and thought we were “feeding” him things. Despite this I still attempted to keep her informed though it only created a lot of stress for me. I never dreamed that she would accuse me of lying. In hindsight I realized I should have let her hear the information straight from the source regardless of how it made her feel. I know now that I can’t worry about how she processes events. The less I am “involved,” the better things are for me and her (I believe).
- Empowerment: There used to be a point in time in which seeing Eliza made my stomach turn. She caused that much anxiety in me. Not any more. There is no reason. In person, she is not at all intimidating. Even when she takes us through unneccessary change it just doesn’t bother me the way that it used to. This is one small way that I know I’ve grown! I don’t try to psychoanalyze her to death anymore either.
- Keeping the Circle Unbroken: If I were an “evil” stepmom, I could easily attepmt to sever the ties between her and the boys. However, I wouldn’t dream of doing so. I like to help them stay connected with her. In fact, my son and I are reading a book together. I told Ethan he could either join us, and/or select a book for him and his mom to read and I would send it to her.
- Communication: In the last year or so I’ve been more conscious as ever of how I have probably contributed to the breakdown in communication. I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I want to keep the communication going for all practical purposes. Therefore I concentrate on using invitational practices in our dialogue. I talk to her respectfully, I understand that she the right to disagree with my husband and me, I avoid holding grudges, and I genuinely care about her boys and I let it show.
Have you measured yourself lately?