Life Changing Words

I have a bad habit of giving unsolicited advice. But when a friend came to me with stories of frustrated step-motherhood last week, I had to share these words of wisdom. By a happy coincidence, this also coincided with a topic from the Document Life Workshop.

This was a tough one to write. I have, and always will, strive to keep things on the blog positive. While the subject isn’t very happy, I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this hard time. Because it makes the good times (and there are many) so much sweeter.

Blooming Meadows kit by Mandy King

Journaling reads- 

You get to choose your role… 

This is one of the most important things that anyone has ever said to me. It was said by a therapist that we saw in the beginning of our marriage. It was a very hard time for me. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be a good wife and stepmother, without really understanding what that meant. It was incredibly difficult trying to find a place in this family that had already existed before I entered the picture. It was heartbreaking to feel that my stepson and I weren’t “clicking”. Of course I couldn’t blame him, he was only three. So I put all the blame on myself. I drove myself nuts trying to do all the things I thought I “should” do, while not succeeding at any of it. Out of sheer desperation, I sought help from an outside source. After about three sessions she said those magical words that I’ll never forget- “You get to choose”.
You get to choose the kind of role you want to fill in his life. You get to decode how close the two of you will be. You can be another mother, an aunt, or even a friend. Nobody can decide that for you. If anything, you’ve got a pretty good deal. His parents are his parents, they always have to be. But you get to choose your own path. you get to decide what place you want to make for yourself in this new family.
So I chose. I made a conscious decision to take on an “aunt” role. I wouldn’t try to be his mom, he had a perfectly good mother already. My job wasn’t to be a parent. I couldn’t make him love me, or even like me. But I could make sure that the time we had together was not tense and stressful. I could do my best to be a good partner to my husband, and to help him to nurture his relationship with his son. That was my job.
I choose to be the one who does laundry and cooks. I choose to blow bubbles and draw on sidewalks with chalk. I choose to run in the rain and jump in puddles. I choose to make birthday cupcakes and plan surprise parties. I choose to let his parents handle discipline and punishment. I choose to teach him things that are my strengths, and let others teach from theirs.  I choose to take time to myself when I need it, without feeling a shred of parental guilt. I choose to enjoy and relish every single hug and “I love you”.

Those words “You get to choose” were so simple, but so powerful. They really changed my attitude about things. I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to be everything to everyone, and started enjoying things more. Our life when we’re together is so much fun, and I’m so glad I gave myself a break so I could discover that. I choose to focus on the good.

Blooming Meadows by Mandy King

*I am a Creative Team Member. This means that I receive free products in exchange for making and advertising layouts for designers. However, the opinions expressed here are my own. The enthusiasm expressed here is definitely my own. See more of my CT layouts here.


7 thoughts on “Life Changing Words

  1. Okay, so this made me cry. (But everything makes me cry.) Maybe it’s because I would have loved to have something like this from my step-parents. Even though the layout is about your struggle, it really shows how much you cared and wanted to really try to build your relationship. Amazing. I also think that this kind of thing, even if it’s not all the way positive, can help other step-parents try to find their roll when they don’t see themselves in the other shiny happy lives on the Interwebs. Seeing others struggle and then succeed is more helpful than just seeing the end game. Am I making sense?

  2. Loved it, very powerful words indeed. Just loved to read your journaling and how those words helped you find a new perspective on things and eventually your own place in the relationship… now I just need to get my Significant Other (who happens to be the step-parent) to read it, I really think it’ll help him find his way with my three kiddos (and now that he is a Dad, it’s even harder for him to find his place as a step-parent).

    • Thank you so much! I think that stepfatherhood can be so hard too, especially when you add in your own biological kids. Blended families are so challenging, but they can be so rewarding too. They only increase the amount of people who love you, which can’t be a bad thing.
      I hope that if your SO reads it, that he finds it helpful. 🙂

  3. Wow–what an amazing post. As someone new to the step-parent world (and not an “official” stepmom yet), I’m still learning my way, and I anticipate that I’ll be learning my way for a *long* time 😉 My BF has three little ones, and it’s been easier with the youngest two. I seem to be falling into a more motherly role with them. The oldest is a different story. Your post gave me some encouragement to give some serious thought to what I’ll choose for my role, particularly with regards to her. I suppose it doesn’t need to be the same role for all three, right? I think if I adjust my expectations, instead of putting so much pressure on myself to have a similar relationship with her as I do with the other two, I’ll start to relax and enjoy our time together more. Thanks for your post 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I absolutely agree that your relationship doesn’t have to be the same for all three. I think that would be the case if they were your biological children too. Different ages and stages require different things. I imagine it can be especially hard with the older one because she might not need much “mothering” per se. It will be more challenging to try and figure out what your relationship will be to her. But it’s such a worthwhile relationship to try and build. Good luck!

  4. Pingback: On Stepfamilies | hclappy scraps

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