Entries tagged with “positive thoughts”.

I don’t want to leave you hanging from the cliffhanger of yesterday — did she like her surprise and what the heck was it?…..

Yes! She loved the surprise. It was her grandma!  Yeah.  I picked up my mother-in-law at the airport an hour before the kids were to get home. It is seriously great having her stay with us. I am blessed with a great mother-in-law. She is a wonderful woman. And a great influence on all of our kids. I know I am blessed that she has embraced my four children as her own grandchildren.

Okay, back to the story……

You should have seen my stepdaughter’s face. She walked in the house and I said I had a big surprise behind the door and when she saw her grandma, she threw her arms around her and screamed “grandma, you came for my birthday!”  She was so excited. So happy.

Now, to be fair and objective, the morning didn’t start off on the best foot.  My stepdaughter came downstairs for breakfast dressed in what I would loosely refer to as a “Little Red Riding Hood meets Miley Cyrus” outfit. Either I am totally out of touch with fashion, I didn’t get the memo on “Fairy Tale Day” at school or my SD is just a walking fashion disaster this AM.

I took one look at her and could tell her ensemble was very deliberate. She loves attention. Even negative attention. I remembered the challenge and how good I am doing on it.  I pondered in my head, ‘do I let this go and let her get ridiculed at school? Do I tell her to go change and risk having a set-back because I know it will engage and blow up into an argument?’

Tick Tock Tick Tock……..

As she is eating her cereal, I am thinking. I am sweating. What do I do? My oldest daughter is just staring at her stepsister. Finally, she says “what the heck. Do you really think you are going to wear that to school? You look completely ridiculous! I’ve heard of sporty, classic, and preppy. But I would call your style – disturbed!”

SD comes back with a sharp “No! You ARE ridiculous!” Now, we are just a few seconds away from the gloves coming off with the girls. Time for mom/smom to step in and save the day or run and hide. I choose the harder route – stay and say!

“Okay, girls. Enough,” I said. “SD, let me ask you a question. Do you think your choice in outfits this morning is a good one or bad one, knowing you are going to school in it?”

“A bad one, I guess,” she replied.  “Why would you come down like that?” I asked. She shrugged her shoulders and said “dunno. Pie.” And ran upstairs to change.

Close eyes. Deep breath. Will not react to PIE!

I’m learning that if I want her to make a change I have to ask her a question in such a way that she realizes the correct answer for herself. I also recognize, I shouldn’t have asked her why. Especially, since I got the “pie” response.  Trust me when I tell you that the word ‘pie’ has a life of its own. A life so large, that I am going to dedicate an entire blog to the word and what it means to my SD (and all of us) sometime soon.

She changed just in time to make it on the bus.  I spent the majority of the day cleaning, cooking and getting ready for my mother-in-law arrive.

I also finished birthday shopping for my SD. I’m expecting her not to thank me and not to like much just like last year. That way, if she is happy it will be a wonderful surprise and relief (not an expectation).

My take away from the day: she recognized she wasn’t going to play dress up at school and basically went up and changed w/ out much nagging on my part – huge improvement. Yeah – score one for my peace of mind. And secondly, she is floating on cloud 9 because her grandma is here. Cloud 9 is a great place for a little kid to spend some time, especially a little kid like my SD who has spent much of the last few years only dreaming of Cloud 9.

Another good day. Today, there was no I love you. There was, however, validation seeking for her comment yesterday.

I was doing dishes and she was doing homework in the kitchen. She asked me if what she said yesterday was true, “is it right smom what I said yesterday? That even if we don’t get along about something that we always make up.”  “Yes,” I told her. “That’s what makes a family strong and great. We can get in fights but we always forgive and we always love. You can’t expect to live with someone every day and always get along.” 

“So, you aren’t going to leave me?” she asked. I’m thinking that I want to scream I will never leave and how could you even think that but I know she is desperately searching for validation that she won’t be abandoned again.

She’s not asking the question because I make her think I’m going to take off, she is asking the question because she doesn’t want me to leave.  Hey, I think I’m getting pretty good at deciphering how and why. But I’m stopping. I’ve learned I can’t spend too much time trying to figure things out. 

Just go with the flow Heather. Go with the flow.  I’m flowing with this. Trust me. When there is nothing much to report. That’s a good day. I’m really appreciating the simplicity of a boring day.

Tomorrow, I have a HUGE surprise for my stepdaughter that her dad and I planned for her birthday. She is going to be super duper excited. Okay. Stop. I can’t have expectations. I’m pretty sure she’s going to love the surprise. Hint: it’s not a gift you can open!!!

Wow!  When I think about it, I have so many things to be thankful for. Why then, do I tend to focus on the pain I feel from my stepdaughter instead of all the wonderful things in my life?

I know personally, I am very approval seeking. Want to do everything right. Be a great wife. Be a great mom. Be a great stepmom. Be a great friend and the list goes on…..

And if someone in my life isn’t doing great, then it must be my fault. If I was just better at ________ then __________________ would be better at that. I can fill in the blanks for many people in my life. My biggest approval issue is with my stepdaughter. Hence, my 21 day challenge. I kept thinking if I was a better stepmom, then she would be happy. I have to remember I didn’t raise her, I cannot and should not change her.

Today, I woke up thinking I’m really loving this challenge and I am going to only focus on the good things in my life. If a negative thought rolls in, it’s going in the trash can and getting dumped out. I’m not gonna let it stew inside.

I am feeling good about feeling good. It’s not necessarily easy to not take some things personally but boy do I have energy at the end of the day when I don’t engage SD’s negative behavior. And I’m using that energy to do things I love. Things I haven’t focused on in a while because I was so exhausted every day by dinnertime from all the emotional stress I was storing inside of me.

I’ve started writing more. I’ve started “finishing” sewing projects that have been waiting for me. And I’m actually reading (just a little) for pleasure. Typically, I’m so knee deep in stepfamily or self-help books that my stack next to my bed is actually taller than my nightstand. I’m just one of those geeks that loves to do research and be in the “know.” Probably dates back to my approval thing where I have to know everything about stepfamily life so I can be the best for everyone.

I am making a trade; having to be right with my stepdaughter FOR time, energy and peace in my heart. I haven’t felt this great internally in at least 6 months. And even my husband has noticed a difference. He says I’m back to my smiling, happy self. I didn’t even realize that I had stopped smiling. But as I have taken on this challenge, I have begun to realize how I have allowed the pain that my stepdaughter throws at me to hold me down. I’ve been trying to seek approval from someone who doesn’t feel approval herself. That is why she is acting out at me. She so desperately wants approval and love from her mother and because all she gets is rejection, she is rejecting those close around her. 

I’m far from a psychologist. My degrees lie in Communication and Research. But I am learning a heck of a lot by doing nothing. By not engaging my stepdaughter but rather documenting and examining her triggers, I am learning and understanding that it really isn’t about me.

To be fair, my loving husband has been telling me for months that it isn’t my fault that my SD lashes out at me. While he is truly the wisest person I know (and that’s not just because I’m madly in love with him) I was too stubborn to listen and accept his advice. Realistically speaking, I think I needed to “get it” personally to believe it. I needed to know it was true not just hear it was true. I had to live it and I am. I am so thankful for it.

Now, I am not out of the woods in terms of not being offended and hurt by my SD’s words and actions, but I’m doing so much better and I’m gaining so much strength from what I’m learning and all those other stepmoms who have rallied with me. I’m actually started to get it…It’s really not about me. Yeah!

Feeling good today. Doing much better with everything. Yesterday, my SD was going to play out in the snow and I wanted to talk to her before she went out the door and in mid sentence she slammed the door in my face. I just said “neat” and turned around. Decided not to engage it. Decided my peace of mind was more important than finding out what she is mad about. You can’t fight with crazy.

I had a busy day. Picked my son early from school as he was suffering from a migraine. Poor guy, he inherited those from me. He is such a trooper and I enjoyed the time I got to hold him and just be still for a few moments. 

I couldn’t wait until 8pm when I tuned into The Stepmom’s Toolbox radio show. Peggy & Erin interviewed Wednesday Martin, author of Stepmonster.  While I haven’t read EVERY book on stepparenting, I’m pretty close I think. And Stepmonster is my number one recommendation to stepmoms. Like I posted on Peggy’s blog, Martin’s book is like a permission slip for stepmoms to feel the way we feel.  She does a great job explaining the dynamics of being a stepmom and validates the many emotional states we encounter on our stepfamily journey.

Anyway, listening to the three of them chat and offer advice just reinforced my decision to not internalize my SD’s negative words and actions. If you get a chance, go to www.thestepmomstoolbox.com and download the show. It’s is definitely worth listening to. Over and Over.

For those of you taking the challenge, make sure to leave your feedback. I wish you all the best.

The weekend was the weekend.  My husband and I both had long weeks so we went to bed early and slept in late. I love lazy mornings with my hubby. A great cup of java with the man of my dreams – what more could I ask for? I like to pretend on those days that it’s just him and me if only for a few moments.

Spent time writing over the weekend. I love expressing myself with words. Both verbally and on paper. Living out loud is very freeing. I know some people don’t like what I share. But my heart is genuine and my desire is to help other stepmoms. The best way to do that is to be honest about my own journey. I’ve always said I that will never pretend this road is easy but it is road I am happy to be on. I give myself a pep talk every day and that’s what I want to give to others – encourage every stepmom out there to stay the course and know that they are not alone.

I’m also busy working on a project for you stepmoms that I’ll be announcing soon. And I’ve been working on really soul searching about this challenge I’m on. I thank you for walking along side me on this journey and have so much more to learn and share.

Keep tuning in.

Late last night I had a lightbulb moment. After rehashing the day in my head – it hit me. The reason she is ramping it up and saying all those things is because she thinks I don’t care. She is equating me not engaging her with me not caring. I think she would rather get into an argument every day then have me calmly dismiss her antics.

She thinks I don’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In regards to the day, I woke up to the local news announcing school was cancelled. Two weeks ago, the idea of being snowed in with her would have had me a nervous wreck. I would have been wondering who am I going to get? The SD who says she loves me or the SD who believes my mission in life is to make her miserable.  But this morning was different thanks to my challenge. I was excited about a snow day. Baking cookies, staying in our jammies all day, watching an old movie.

Since the kids are at my mercy on snow days, I typically take the opportunity to introduce them to the “classics.” I choose to watch Singin’ in the Rain.  I just love the “gotta make them laugh” sequence and Debbie Reynolds jumping out of a cake is priceless.  Anyway, she wanted no part of such a boring movie so she went out to play in the snow. And it was great, I got to watch the movie with the kids in peace while keeping an eye on her through the window. She played outside with one of her siblings and they wore off a lot of energy. A win win for both of us.

Overall, the day proved to be more of the same. She purposely broke something of her sisters. Took every opportunity to pick a fight with me.  I stayed calm and strong. My husband is so thankful. He said “I love to see your smile. You wear your smile so well.” How can I argue with that. I have more peace, more energy at the end of the day and my husband is noticing a huge difference.

I don’t want her thinking that I don’t care. But I’m not going backwards. I’m not going to start engaging her. And I’m loving how I feel inside by not taking things as personally as I have.

Believe me. My feelings still get hurt. My brain still can’t figure out why she says what she says and why she does what she does. The key difference is that I am learning not to internalize everything. I’m learning that I will probably never understand her and that I am so thankful for the harmony and energy that I have at the end of the day.

My husband takes our daughter to the counselor tomorrow. It will be interesting what she says about the week.

I am certainly not where I want to be on this journey of not taking my SD’s attacks personally but I am moving in the right direction

Things haven’t changed. I’m still focused on not engaging my SD’s behavior.  She is still focused on drawing negative attention. I’m spending this time doing a lot of “soul searching”. I’ve been thinking about why does it hurt my feelings so badly?, why do I feel like I have to engage her when she is so combative and verbally abusive?

The answers are coming…. I guess the one thing that has been hard is I thought that if I didn’t engage and just let it go she would stop. But she keeps pushing the envelope. I know she is craving attention. She searches to fill a void in her heart and she is looking in every direction. That is scary to me for I fear what she may turn to as she gets older. But I know I can’t allow my thoughts to go there.

And to reference yesterday, I truly believe that the only one who can give her peace is her biological mother. My SD told me that the reason her mom can’t come and see her (remember it’s been over 4 years) is because she is going to Las Vegas. My SD said that’s what she told her the last time they talked. So of course, my SD asks me this question, “why can she go to Las Vegas but not come to see me?”  I just reply, “I don’t know the answer to that. I bet that has you really confused.”  “Yeah,” she says. 

On a funny note, I thought I’d share these two with you.  First, she comes up to me in the evening, very sweetly, and asks me if I am ever going to leave the family like her mom did.  I told her that I would never do that. She replies “Good.  Because having two moms is a lot of work for me and a third mom – well, I don’t think I could handle that.”  I’ll take it as a compliment.

Secondly, she was watching the Olympics with her dad and a commercial addressing urgent urination problems for males came on the TV. She turns to her dad and says, “Oh my gosh, I totally have that.”  You just have to laugh and shake your head.

Ditto. That’s a good word for today. I’m continuing to stay the course and my SD is continuing to find ways to push my buttons.

Today, I received a note home from the teacher that in the past would have really been hard to read regarding my SD’s behaviour in the classroom. But reading the words brought sadness to my heart this time over anger or embarassment.

She is just lashing out at everyone. That pattern is becoming very obvious. A call from her BM, equals a rough week at home and at school. She wrote in her school journal about her feelings about her mom. It wasn’t flattering. She is drowning in the pain that has been inflicted upon her. Hurting people hurt others.

I’m learning not to take it personally. This is all good. I’m starting to see a shift away from focusing on my feelings to focusing on the root of her problem. In my opinion, she needs to rid herself of the spirit of rejection.  

My husband and I have her in counseling, we work closely with the school, we talk with her. I feel that the only one who can free her from this bondage is her BM. It’s hard to wait on a third party who you have witnessed not make good choices in the past.

All I can do is stay the course. Set the tone for the house and continue to think positive thoughts.

Well, I’m not going to spend much time writing about the weekend. The warning that my SD’s counselor and Peggy from the stepmoms toolbox was right on the money. As I have continued to not engage my SD’s poor behavior towards me, she has continued to ramp it up.

This weekend she really had her A game on. So did I.  I can tell you that I’m worn out writing this. I stood strong and gritted my teeth a lot and that’s what has zapped my energy but I realize I’m not as worn out as I would have been had I engaged her combative nature this weekend.  I sometimes used to wonder if her behavior towards me was a result of me and my engagement of her. Now, I know that is not the case.

The main reason I’m so tired today, (Sunday) in particular, is because it is my sons’ birthday (I have twins). I focus on each kid on their birthday. Special breakfast, I put our family banner up, make their favorite meal for dinner, etc.  And even though I do the same thing for all my children (including my SD), she can’t stand when the attention is on someone else. And she tried to make today all about her. When they opened their presents, she would get upset with what they got and say “I wanted that” and then rattle off her list of wants for her birthday. When we sat down for dinner, she had to say what she wants for her special dinner, and how she hated their choices. Every time there was a call or a nice word uttered to my boys today, she had to put herself at the center. My boys never said a thing. They are so gracious. I actually feel bad that she is so insecure that she has to have constant attention on herself. It saddens me to see her so upset when good things are happening to others. Her counselor says she is so insecure because she lacks the security of her mother’s love. I understand that in theory, but it’s sad to see it in motion. Sad for my SD and sad for her siblings who can’t grasp why she does what she does – they just see the behavior.

Honestly, I think what is hardest is that it brought back past memories because she does this for everyone’s birthday. I remember my oldest daughter’s ninth birthday. I surprised her with a day trip to Chicago to spend the day at the American Girl Store. That was her gift, a day with me in the big city at AG. I couldn’t even enjoy my daughter’s reaction because my SD got so angry at what we gave my daughter, that she started yelling all these “unfairs” and ran out of the room shifting all attention and worry onto her. I just remember the look on my daughter’s face from joy to “there she goes again.” My SD loves to steal the spotlight but not in a good way. She is her own worst enemy and I really do feel bad for her.

I, myself, am not attention seeking. I don’t like a lot of fan fare. I could live the rest of my life without a gift. Give me your time, kind words and I feel loved. So part of my tension is I can’t relate to someone who is so bold as to blatantly take attention from another. Especially when it’s a child. She can be very brash and unfiltered with her behavior and comments. My husband is great and he recognized that she ramped up her behavior this weekend. It’s great when he calls her back to center and I don’t have to get involved.

At one point this weekend, she ran around the first floor of our home saying “Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins……” for nearly 20 minutes. What was with that? I ignored it and eventually she stopped. Odd but I’m not spending time figuring it out. I’m wearing the full armor of not taking things personally.

You can wear me down but you can’t defeat me….

New week, what will you bring?

Okay, my SD is on to me. She knows something is different. She can’t get me upset and I think it’s upsetting to her. She began the morning with a bunch of “you have to…..” When she demands I do something for her instead of simply asking, I typically correct her and get a little tense.  My whole family knows I am big on manners. Pleases and thank yous are super important to me and I am committed to raising children who are polite and respectful. So you can imagine how my insides can flare up when my 8 year old SD demands things of me. Yeah!

This morning, I simply responded with a “we can look into that” and found something to occupy my time. Folding laundry never seemed so appealing.

Had a great afternoon. Met my husband for lunch. Got some writing done. Tweeted (that twitter is so addicting). The after school storm blew in.  I stayed the course. She does not know what to do with me now. I drove her to music lessons. No questions asked. (In the past, I’ve asked her to practice her piano each day per her teacher’s request. And I usually asked her on the way to lessons how many times during the week did she practice only to get upset when either she lies about it or says none.  I’ve gotten a little resentful that I have to drive her, as well as the other five in the car, to her ½ hour lesson once a week when she doesn’t even practice. But I’m learning to let go.) Now, I tell myself that I don’t care if she practices or not. I am taking her because I love her dad. Period.

My husband picked her up from lessons today on his way home from work. She started in on him. While we were getting ready for dinner, he would ask her to do something. She wouldn’t do it. When he asked her again, she gave him a snippy “I’m doing it!” Wink, wink: he’s big on manners just like me. My husband thanked me today for ignoring her behavior. It felt great to see that my changes are making him feel so great. That’s the best encouragement I could get to continue on my challenge.

When it was time for her to go to her counselor’s appointment, she wouldn’t put her coat on. She told her dad “you can drag me there but you can’t make me go in!” I stayed out of it. (In the past, I’ve been known to jump in on occasion because I don’t like her disrespecting her father.) Needless to say she went to her appointment.

I was shocked to see her so abrasive with her dad. Usually I am the one who gets it. Then I had a light bulb moment:

  • She’s not getting a reaction from me. She is craving a reaction so she’s going to redirect her behavior to another person in hopes of reaction. She is lashing out with her emotions. This helps me to believe what I’ve been telling myself for a while now but it wasn’t sinking in: it’s not personal. It’s not about you. She is angry as all hell and takes it out on you because you are the mom in the house and she’s angry at her bio mom.

While I do not like seeing her act so combative with her father, it helps me to understand that it’s not me personally when she gets so aggressive.

Okay, so my husband just got back from taking her to the counselor and put her to bed. He then shared a few things from the session. He had shared with the counselor what I was doing and how great I felt. She said to warn me that my SD will more than likely turn up the heat so to speak to gain my attention. She told me to buckle down.

She has the majority of her session alone with the counselor. My husband goes in for the last few minutes to catch up. He informed me that her behavior was very silly and attention seeking. He also told me something very interesting. For the first time, ever, she refused to talk about her biological mom with the counselor. Hmm?

Day 4, ready, set, go…..

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