Stress. Everyone has it. Even children today are speaking out about being stressed. Some have it for different reasons, but we all suffer from it in one form or another. Call it a symptom of our current instant-gratification-technologically-driven world and our need to be constantly plugged in. Whatever the root we need to step back and evaluate how we can reduce the stressors in our lives.
If you are reading this then I will safely assume that you are a stepmom? And that you know the stress that goes along with that role. Maybe the word in itself is stressful and brings up immediate judgements and negative feelings. Let’s be real, our society hasn’t exactly spun this role into a positive one. A new story needs to be created and told, especially with the increased numbers of divorced families. It has become the new norm and collectively we need to honor this blended family unit.
There are a number of challenges that face a stepmother. Just the title itself is subject to judgement and expectations that she may never be able to live up to. It is such a delicate balance of putting all the pieces in place so that the previous family unit can coexist with the new/current family unit. It’s a merging of the past with the present, a dance of adding in new family members as the result of divorce, remarriage, and potentially the birth of more children.
For a stepmom you are not only trying to navigate the role of mothering children you didn’t birth, but also a support role as a partner to your partner in raising the children. Add in finances, support for another household, homework, carpools, vacations, scheduling, and all the little details that have to be handled on a daily basis. It is a very delicate balance of keeping your household fully functioning while not slipping into judging the other household for what may or may not be getting done there.
The dynamics of an intact biological family have their own sets of challenges, but now that the web of family life extends into this blended family arena there are more opportunities for ambiguity, stressors, resentment, and dissatisfaction. The only thing you can control is how to cope with the stress and the flow of the relationships first and foremost in your household. It’s an ebb and flow, that as the stepmom, it is crucial to be fluid in your daily life.
Checking out and disengaging are options, maybe not the most positive, but I understand sometimes they are necessary. This is also a sign that the stress in your life has hit a level where you may need to thoughtfully step away and focus on your self-care. Creating a safe word, phrase, or hand gesture to let your partner know you need a moment is suggested, rather than just disappearing.
As women we give so much of ourselves daily and we forget we need to caretake ourselves too. Taking even 10 minutes away out of the confusion to reset yourself can bring a sense of peace so that you can return a little renewed. You have the choice in every moment to reset the negative patterns and negative thoughts into new ones. To move forward we consciously need to stop, take some deep breaths, reconnect to our inner wisdom, and let go of the thoughts that no longer serve us. It’s a daily practice that can be cultivated, that’s why it’s called practice. Now take a deep breath and go take a few moments for yourself now. You deserve it, sister.