Growing Pains


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?

6 responses »

  1. Yay you! I am also growing and evolving and I love where it is taking me. I know I’ll have moments where I’ll backslide a little, but focusing on the kids is always the best way to go! You are a wonderful mom and stepmom, there’s absolutely no doubt about it!!!! This was a great post, Morocco, thank you.

  2. Wow!! I commend you!!

    I never would have, and could not have, done what you have. You have gone beyond the call of duty.

    As I was aware, I would be dealing with a psychotic ex, I chose to disengage right from the get go. Yes, this was the right choice for me.

    My process was much simpler then yours. Why? That is the way I had to deal with her to remain sane.

    I had gone through a amicable divorce quite a few years prior. In my divorce, the strings were severed between my ex and myself. We both moved on in our lives. We had one son, that we shared custody. We did not cause conflict amonst each other. We only dealt with each other regarding our son.

    When I met my future husband, his baggage was not quite like mine.
    His ex had no intentions of going forward and bowing out of the scene. Althought she walked out of the marriage, he wasn’t suppose to go forward with his life. Everyone was going to pay, including the kids.

    The boys, 4 of them, the youngest at that time was 11, and up to 17.
    They did not accept me, and to date, I have not earned my way to their trust. They do not trust their own mother, therefore any female is not to be trusted. It is very sad to see, because I do have, my own son that 100% trusts me. His experience is totally foreign to these boys. Since I am not their mother, they cannot relate to me as such

    Any attempt I make to do so, they are suspicious. Their own mother always had alterior motives, when she was pleasant or nice. So I totally disengaged from them as far as making attempts to win them over.

    As far as communication goes, the boys can contact her anytime they wish to. She has contact to them by there cell phones. I have blocked her numbers to the home phone. She is abusive when she phones, so I will not tolerate that on the home phone, in my home environment. The boys can listen to her abuse if they choose to on their cells. That is their choice.

    Please do not take this as criticism, as I am the least to offer you advice.

    My Comments: (My Perspective)

    Solution Seeker: Wonderful

    Stepmom of Evan & Ethan: Be yourself, and you will NEVER win over them over their Mother.

    Serentiy: You tried over and beyond, that which is recommended.

    The Gift of Space: I would not have been able to go there. Most people would not, so you blew her out of the water when you did.

    Detachment: Amen, 100% agree to you.

    Enpowernment: Sorry to say, bad news all around. If she appears, we are in trouble.

    Keeping the Cirlcle Unbroken: Never have, and Never will. She has access to their cell phones, and they have access to her’s. I do not allow her to, (have her number blocked), on our home phone. She is abusive and I will not tolerate that in my home. She does abuse them on their cell phones, and it us up to them if they wish to listen to the abuse or not.

    Communication: I absolutely refuse to have any communication with her, and I do not. The boys can if they wish too, that is their choice. She does abuse them verbally, and I allow them to have their own relatonship with her. However, they do see me, having a relationship with my son , that nowhere compares to their relationship with their own mother.

    That is my measurement. I have read many of yours, and other stepmom’s blogs. You and many others have gone beyond what is required here. I do not consider myself a selfish person, and most people that know me, do not either. I have read a great many, and yours included, that are beyond anything that I would do. You are very generous, and any BM shoud be grateful to have you.

  3. Been There~

    Hey, thanks for the comment! It is hard to be cordial co-parents when the other side has a different agenda in mind. At the present time I am content with the way things are knowing that I have put forth a lot of effort to create a line of communication with Eliza.

    I totally understand that all stepmom/mom relationships are different. I don’t blame you at all for disengaging. However, due to our circumstances, I am unable to completely detach in the way I’d like. Therefore, I have set boundaries regarding her and I only do what is necessary to keep her in the loop about the kids.

    Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for your support!

  4. Empowerment – can you help me with this one? I don’t think A & T have any power over me but as I make the turn to their house my hands start shaking, my stomach turns and on days that I think something might happen I have bad stomach issues. But as soon as I drive away with K-Boy I am fine. I think it is the anticipation of what might happen – aarrgghh

    Great post!!!!

  5. Serendip~

    I started off by saying to myself “She is just a person.” And really, she is. It makes me think of my fear/intense dislike of bugs. Every so often I will run across a bug in our house–in particular a long bug with lots of hair-like legs (I’m sure it is not a centipede). I have no idea what they are, but I am ridiculously afraid of them. They are really ugly!!!

    One day I saw one and decided to steel myself. I realized that I am at least a 1,000 times bigger than those pathetic little creatures. And obviously they are equally or more afraid of me than I am of them as evidenced at how they rapidly scatter upon seeing me. We were running from each other! Keeping that in mind helps me relax and not scurry away in fright when I encounter them. I still detest them, but I don’t get all weak in the knees and sick to the stomach at the sight of them anymore.

    As mean as it may sound, Eliza is like that bug to me now. She is such a tragic figure that it is now easy for me to view her with pity instead of nervousness. She is really harmless and by allowing her to make me nervous I was simply giving her more credit than she deserved. I refuse to let her evoke fear (as you stated for the unexpected) or dread (just having to deal with her mania) in me anymore.

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