Day 4: Life in the Stepmom Trenches.
As a stepmom, I often have to choose to laugh at the situations I find myself in and the issues I find myself dealing with on a daily basis. If I didn’t laugh, I would probably cry. This doesn’t mean I don’t take things seriously but that I choose to find the silver lining in the storm clouds of stepfamily life.
While I often laugh at the small things, there are many issues that I face and that many stepmoms face that are no laughing matter. Dealing with issues of abandonment that are rooted deep in the hearts of my two stepdaughters, figuring out how to approach a sensitive topic with my ex-husband without negatively impacting our great co-parenting relationship, dealing with last minute schedule changes with my ex-husband are just a few of the things that can really suck the emotional energy out of me.
That’s why my husband and I have a rule. When we feel the air in the house getting heavy and issues weighing down on us, we insitute a funny movie night! We put in a funny movie and just laugh and enjoy each other’s company. It breaks the tension and helps us restore our depleted energy levels.
Putting in a funny movie certainly doesn’t erase the problems we are dealing with. The laugh tracks don’t minimize our commitment to solutions. But taking a break from thinking about and dwelling on (and sometimes obsessing over why, why, why,) helps keep our stress levels in check. It just makes us feel better.
As a stepmom, I already feel that I live in a real life dramedy! Pieces of drama, comedy, some tragedy and mystery are interwoven into the fabric of our stepfamily script. I always say that each of our lives would make an incredible reality show because you just can’t make this stuff up!
We have a few personal standbys that we purchased for our video library for those unplanned – we need one tonight – laughter nights. Because some days we just need a break and we’ve learned it’s wisdom and not weakness to take one. Here are the movies we can always count on to make us belly laugh:
Stepbrothers. It’s a bit raunchy but when you live in a stepfamily, you will laugh your butt off at the outlandish things they deal with. Most movies with Will Ferrell make us laugh.
Ferris Beuller’s Day Off
National Lampoon’s Christmas (at the holidays)
And I’m a big fan of the 80’s movies. So I’m always up to watch Back to the Future, Breakfast Club, Footloose & Dirty Dancing (OK, not comedies but I love them none the less), Sixteen Candles (anything with Molly and crew), Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire.
Can you tell by my choices that I am not up to date on the latest releases? I’m also a big fan of old movies especially Black & Whites. In fact, one of my favorite comedies of all time is Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.
The other day I picked up Coming to America with Eddie Murphy at the library. I know we will be needing a funny movie night within the next three weeks.
Lesson from the stepmom trenches: when life gives you lemons, make some lemonade and put in a funny movie. When life gets tough, it helps to take a break. When you are done laughing and sharing, your issues will still be there to deal with but you’ll have a refreshed spirit and a renewed energy to tackle the topics at hand.
Challenge: think about some movies that you and your husband love watching together and that help you forget the worries of your day. Have those on hand when times are tough and you need a break. Consider having a funny movie night this weekend.
Share your movie picks! Let’s help create a list of movies together that will make us laugh!
Day 2: 30 Days in the StepMom Trenches
As a wife, ex-wife, mom and stepmom, I get tired and run down wearing all these different hats. Balancing all these roles are a blessing but also takes a lot of work. Sometimes by the end of the day, I am wiped out and don’t have much left to give my husband. I recognize that is not fair to him. I love my husband beyond words and I made a promise when we married that I would intentionally nurture our relationship.
But life happens and the job of stepmomhood can wear even the toughest woman down on days. With six kids and a busy schedule, I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t doing the best job at “intentionally” communicating my love to my husband. As my husband’s birthday was approaching last month, I was thinking of ways to “spice things up” and ensure that I was keeping the romance alive.
Both my husband and I are romantics at heart and I’ve always put little love notes in his lunch and packed them for him on business trips but I wanted to go beyond that. I wanted to do something to surprise him!
I decided to go out of my “comfort zone” and pack some “sweat treats” in his lunch one day. I had picked up some “fun” coupons that had a scratch off center to reveal a sweet and romantic treat for my husband. Honestly, I had bought them a while ago but this was the first time I was going to use them. I had no idea what was under each scratch off, I just knew that it would give my husband something to think about at lunch besides work and give us both something to look forward to at the end of the day.
I was excited and nervous to pack it in his lunch the first day. I’m pretty conservative and these scratch off cards made me feel a bit naughty. I had written on the back with sharpie “redeem tonight for some fun!” and was carrying it down the steps in the AM to slip into his lunch that I was getting ready to pack.
As I walked into the kitchen that morning, I walked into the typical chaos of the morning. It was the morning fire drill of six kids getting ready for school. Three of the kids asked me to finish packing their lunches so they could try to find some things they needed for school. Deciding I would rather slap together a few pbj sandwiches and assemble some bags of pretzels over looking for matching socks (the bain of my existence) and gym uniforms, I gladly accepted. I put the coupon down.
The next 10 minutes were a blur and as I walked back into the kitchen from the bus stop I went to pack my husband’s lunch and put the coupon in it. But the coupon was not on the counter. Where was the coupon? I had put it down and set a stack of napkins on top so they wouldn’t see it. “Did I accidentally pack it in my kids lunch with the napkins? “Oh No,” I thought. “What if they find it in their lunch and scratch it off? Why do they all have to be such good readers?”
I scurried around lifting up piles of paper on the counters looking for it. No show. Different thoughts were running through my mind. “if one of the kids is going to get it, which one should I hope for? Do I go to the schools and ask to see each lunch box? How do I explain to the school secretaries that I need to examine my kids’ lunches?”
“Would I have to work through the guidance counselor?” He is a great guy but he’s also the same person who once referred to us as that “mixed up, I mean, mixed family.” “Oh, I have PTA tonight, if this story gets out I’ll be the talk of the meeting. I already get the stares…” these are the thoughts that were racy through my mind.
Just then my husband wheels into the kitchen for his lunch and notices I’m a bit skittish. He can read me like a book and I fess up my surprise to him. He is a little shocked yet happy with what I was going to include. He then starts laughing and is thankful that I’m stressed out over losing the coupon and not over something one of his kids did. Only in a stepfamily.
We look together and I decide to put a new “coupon” in his lunch even though he knows about it.
He leaves for work and I continue to clean the kitchen and scour the house for that long lost love coupon. The phone rings and my thoughts race to the school but it is my husband. He asks “did you ever find the other coupon?” “No,” I reply. “Well, I couldn’t stand the suspense so I scratched off the one you gave me. Do you want to know what it says?” he asked.
“Do I?” I replied
“Lets just say it involves movies and role playing. Where did you buy these?” he asked.
“OMG. Well, hopefully if the kids get it they’ll think they can film made up commercials on my flip-cam. They love putting on silly plays and shows,” I thought to myself.
Needless to say that after I hung up with my husband, I did find the coupon. Thankfully, it did not go to school. Somehow I stuck it under our large calculator. Truly don’t remember doing that.
Lesson from this stepmom trench: It’s important to intentionally love your spouse. As stepmoms we need to nurture the flame in our marriage and do fun things for and with our husband. The key is to make sure you plan and don’t have any open lunch boxes and love notes in the same vicinity.
My challenge to you: Do something today that screams “I love you” to your spouse!