These are four words that your husband will never tire of hearing. I hadn’t realized it until recently but my words of affirmation towards my husband were getting fewer and fewer the more and more stress we had in our family that centered around the kids.
It’s not that I believed in him less, loved him less or even thought less of him but rather when I disagree with my husband’s stance on some parenting issues the words of affirmation weren’t flowing as freely as they should have been. Especially since my husband’s love language is words of affirmation.
Recently, I was watching a video which is part of a series called The Art of Marriage sponsored by Family Life. In it, a woman commented on how a wife is her husband’s biggest cheerleader. She said when we put on our wedding dress we are putting on a cheerleader uniform and pledging to cheer our husband on. It really hit me when she made the team sport analogy. She talked about how loyal people are to their sports team and how they cheer them on year after year always remaining faithful and supportive regardless of the tic marks in the winning column.
When our husband isn’t doing things the way we want them to, do we stop cheering for them? We may not stop believing in them but we may stop verbally cheering them on.
Being from Cleveland, if I can cheer on a group of football players year after year despite bad trades, bad plays and consistent losses certainly I can cheer my man on through every season of his life. I do believe in him and I recognize the importance of cheering him on each and every day regardless of how I am feeling because its’ not about me.
Cheering on our husband is about being a good partner. That’s what we pledged on the alter. We didn’t say “I would love, honor and cherish as long as he does what I want him to do” but rather we commit to love, honor and cherish through it all.
The most amazing thing happened when I picked up my pom poms and started affirming my husband several times each and every day. My encouragement and belief in him was so powerful and gave him additional energy to handle things with more peace and, as he would put it, “with more reserve in his tank.”
I also noticed that the more I verbally affirmed my husband in front of the kids the more they were verbally affirming each other. I have made it a point to thank my husband at the dinner table in front of all the kids. Often I thank him for working so hard for our family or thank him for always being a man of integrity. He always beams when I compliment him and the kids take notice. He always compliments my cooking and shows gratitude that we can eat each night as a family which I appreciate. If our kids choose to marry when they get older I want each of them to be very verbally affirming of their spouse. We have to model the life we want our children to live.
I love cheering him on! I see the energy it brings him. I see and love the additional energy it brings to our relationship. He cheers me on too and our team can’t help but win when we are both each other’s biggest fans and are marching down the field striving towards the same goals.
How do you cheer your husband on? Do you find it difficult to be verbally supportive when you are in a season in your relationship where you aren’t agreeing on important issues? Share your thoughts on this. Would love to hear from you.
Today and everyday she is committed to her family and doing what is best for them.
Even when others are unkind, she holds her head high, standing strong in the truth.
Patience becomes her middle name.
Many try to diminish her impact on her family but she knows what she means to them.
Only in time will she truly reap the gratitude of her stepkids but still she presses on.
Marriage makes her a stepmother but it’s her heart that makes her a mom.
Long day today in the stepmom department. Thought I’d write a sentence for each letter of this label we are given when we marry a man with kids. Sure, this may not hit the mark exactly but hope it conveys the heart and love of a stepmom.
Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: Somedays are long and somedays are longer but through it all we should never forget that we choose everyday to be the best for our family. Some days we feel very successful and other days we may not. Regardless of what each day holds, never forget the love and beauty that you bring to your family.
Challenge: take a minute to write what STEPMOM means to you. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to be as stepmom. Love doesn’t live by rules and when we choose to love our family and do what is right for them, we can’t help but do a great job!
Would love for you to share what stepmom means to you.
Welcome my friend Alissa Enders and her heartfelt contribution to The Gift of StepMom.
I met Alissa at BlogHer’10 in NYC. I went to the Convention not knowing a soul and looked for a friendly face to meet. Scanning the room, I introduced myself to Alissa and we became friends. She is as wonderful on the inside as she is vibrant and genuine on the outside. Over the conference weekend, we each shared our passion for our blog and Alissa shared with me that she grew up in a stepfamily.
I was touched with how she spoke so lovingly of her stepfather. She has so much respect for him and the job he did. I appreciated her candor when she shared that she didn’t always feel that way about him. Her stories stayed with me and touched and inspired me as a stepmother. Many Smoms struggle with feelings of loneliness and disrespect in their stepfamily role.
When I shared my Gift of StepMom project with Alissa, she was eager to help out. Please enjoy Alissa’s story. May it provide you with strength and inspiration as a stepmom knowing that what you are doing today is being noticed and appreciated by your stepchildren. While you may wait years for a thank you, you are making a positive impact NOW!
With Mother’s Day approaching, I am reminded that while stepmoms lovingly parent their stepchildren, they often aren’t acknowledged for their efforts. And I’m not saying that Mother’s Day should be all about stepmoms. Moms certainly deserve a day to be celebrated! I will never refute that. What I am saying is that stepmoms work hard at their role and yet receive little positive acknowledgement from society at large and that can make Mother’s Day hard on stepmothers.
Being a stepmom is hard work. It requires super human strength and thick skin many, many days.
Given the thankless days we do have, I believe it is super important to celebrate the gift that we are.
Yes, stepmoms are a gift to their stepchildren. I will keep saying this because it is so true and so important that we remind ourselves that we are contributing in a positive way to our stepchildren. Filling our hearts and our heads with the positive stuff will help us in amazing ways on our stepmom journey.
My inspiration to celebrate the Gift of StepMom stems from two recent events. In early April, I attended a Smart StepMom event lead by Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom. Afterwards, I had the honor of having lunch with her and Brenda Ockun, the Publisher of Stepmom Magazine. During our meal, we talked about how important it is for stepmoms to see the good they are doing and the positive impact they are having on their family.
The next day, I was at Barnes & Noble to pick up a book. It was there I noticed the Mother’s Day displays. There were countless books for mothers. Books celebrating the impact that mothers have, devotions for mothers, memoirs from mothers. These books are important. As a mom, I love these books. But as a stepmom, I couldn’t help but ask “what about celebrating the gift of stepmom?” “Where is the display celebrating stepmothers and the sacrifices we make?”
It was after that lunch and a stop at the bookstore that I had the idea of creating and sharing The Gift of StepMom. I want my fellow stepmothers to know the gift that they are to their family. Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for stepmoms and I want us to focus on the good that we are and the good that we are doing.
In the following three weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I’ll be sharing stories from stepmothers about the gift they are to their families. I’ll also be sharing stories from adult stepchildren who consider their stepmother a gift. I’ve also heard from one mother regarding the gift that her children’s stepmother has become.
The greatest gift is a portion of thyself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you would like to share your story with others in the stepmom community, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to share below ways in which you have been a gift to your stepfamily. Let’s focus on the positive. Remember, you are a gift to those around you. Let’s unwrap the goodness that we bring to our family. It is my heart that this project will be a gift to you.
This is the third installment of my conversation with Brigette Lemos-Norman of In The Blender. Our conversation stems from the one we had on The Stepmom Connection which aired live on March 16, 2011.
The third taboo topic: Do I have to be friends with my stepchildren’s mother?
This question stirred a lot of comments in the chat room during the show. As with every stepmom issue, this one has many, many layers. Some stepmoms want to be friends with the mother of their stepkids but the mom says NO! While others seek to get along for the sake of the kids but have no desire to “be friends.”
Why is this topic taboo? Why do stepmoms feel guilty if they don’t want to be friends with the mother of their stepkids? Is it because, as women and mothers, we are supposed to like everyone and be nice to everyone. We are raised to nurture and care. The fact that we may not want to be friends with our stepchildren’s mother does not make us wicked and evil.
Being friends can often mean walking a very fine line for many stepmoms.
Having said that, I believe it’s every mom – stepmom duo’s decision how they want to craft their relationship. I do believe that it is in the child’s best interest that both women are cordial to each other and never speak negatively about each other in front of the kids. However, how friendly you want to be is up to each mother/stepmother team.
The truth is both women do have one thing in common: the kids. Leaving egos at the door is a healthy practice in putting the emotional needs of the children first.
And whether it’s right or wrong, typically the mom sets the tone for the relationship. If mom wants to be friends with her children’s stepmom then it can become a reality. If mom chooses not to accept their children’s stepmom then patience and grace will have to be a stepmom’s friend until mom changes her mind.
One stepmom, during the show, shared that she and the mother of her stepkids don’t like each other. She said that they keep their “dislike” between the two of them and don’t believe the kids sense it. If you can maintain an amicable relationship in the children’s presence and never speak ill of each other in front of the kids that is a blessing.
Personally, I can’t be friends with my stepdaughter’s mother.
It’s not because I don’t want to be but given the fact that we’ve never met and she lives multiple states away, the opportunity for a friendship is nil at this point. Actually, deep down I wish we had an amicable relationship but the reality of being a custodial stepmom is that mom is out of the picture and therefore no chance of becoming chummy.
The way custodial stepmoms can be “friends” with their stepkids’ mother is to never talk ill of her in front of the kids. My youngest stepdaughter asks me frequently, “do you think my mom still loves me?” First time that question was asked, I was nearly speechless. I answer that question the same every time. I tell her that I believe every mother loves her children. She always follows up with “then why did she leave and why did she have more babies that she is keeping this time?” I just give her a hug and tell her that I think her mom shows love in a different way than how my husband and I show her love but that I believe with my mother’s heart that her mom loves her. I also tell her that I am not her mother and therefore I am not going to guess what her mom is thinking or why she did what she did. I definitely don’t want to put words in another woman’s mouth, especially when it’s their mother.
In that way, I try to ease my stepdaughter’s anxieties and build a bridge with her mother. Because someday we may meet. Someday we may co-parent and if that day ever comes I don’t want there to be any ill will. I want my stepdaughters to feel comfortable in a situation where we would both be parenting them.
Like all things stepfamily related, there is no right and wrong way.
There is only what works for your family.
Some stepmoms I talk with are “Facebook Friends” with the mom of their stepkids and consider that a good first step. Other stepmoms I talk with, while friendly with the mom of their stepkids, don’t want their “two worlds to collide” by way of social media. They want to be friendly at events, on email, over the phone, etc…. But when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, etc…they want to maintain their own space.
Regardless of how you wish to define your relationship with the mother of your stepchildren, I would recommend the book No One’s the Bitch by the mom – stepmom duo of Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carol Marine. You may agree or disagree with the book but one thing is for sure, this book will get you thinking and talking about the mom/stepmom relationship. And the ten step plan for cultivating a mother and stepmother relationship may just be what you are looking for.
So what works for you? Are you friends with the mother of your stepkids? Do you think you have to be? What are your thoughts about being “Facebook Friends”? Comments and encouragement are always welcome. Thanks for sharing.
Yes. We have all heard the comment “the calm after the storm” but I’m bracing myself for the storm that is brewing after a calm and peaceful birthday for by stepdaughter.
She and I had a great birthday this past Tuesday. I include myself because in my last post, I discussed giving up expectations on her big day. I did everything I normally do for birthdays but without any expectation attached and I felt a sense of peace all day and she seemed to have a great day.
I say seemed because while she appeared happy on the outside, her dad and I know her well enough to recognize guarded joy when we see it in her. And what breaks my heart and what drives home the message that kids need their parents to be emotionally healthy and involved in their lives is how my stepdaughter does on her birthday, and actually on all holidays, and how she fares afterwards in the absence of her mom.
As we do with all the kids, we set her gifts and cards on the kitchen table so she could see everything when she woke up in the morning and came down for breakfast. Cards came from both my brothers, from my parents, from my great aunt and from both sets of her grandparents (she received a card from her mom’s parents) but nothing from mom. After she opened everything, she gave us an uncharacteristic thank you with a guarded smile and said “can we check the mail today? Maybe mom sent something and its just late.”
I say uncharacteristic because typically gifts put my SD over the top. You give her something not on her birthday and she is over the moon. It’s the emotions attached to the day for her that weigh down her heart. The fact that there was nothing from mom far outweighs all the love that was showered on her from those in her life who are physically present.
As the day progressed, she became increasingly agitated and annoyed. We understood why. When she woke up the next day, she was in an angry and irritated mood. She eats the same cereal every morning but the day after her birthday she said “my cereal tastes old. I need a new box of cereal today.” She came home from school and announced how all the girls in the class hate her, how she is the only one with chores “in the world” and that she is not doing homework and “you can’t make me.”
She was getting out the bricks to put up her emotional wall.
This is where I start bracing for the storm. Because I could rewind and play this same scenario after each birthday and holiday. I think she has expectations in her head about her mom’s role on those special days and when those expectations aren’t met….she emotionally unravels. Also, while she appreciates that things are done for her, she wishes it was her mom doing these things and not me. I get that.
Her emotional state is fragile. She had a scheduled visit with her therapist on Thursday and my stepdaughter shared her struggles of the week. The joy on her birthday was a short blip on her screen. Her dad and I aren’t naive enough to think that a fun birthday can make it all go away nor do we ever want to “buy” out her pain. We know that real healing involves dealing with issues and forgiving and finding peace. We just wish that our ten year old didn’t carry around baggage the size of Texas.
We met with her teacher and the guidance counselor on Friday morning. They see the same ups and downs in her emotional state. We are all working together and are very blessed for the tender hearts at her school.
Somedays I don’t know where the day will take us but I know I may see the eye of the storm. Her sleep is fitful with occasional times of shouting. She starts disagreements with her classmates and then gets ostracized at lunch and recess. She complains that clothes don’t fit right, that her siblings don’t look at her right, that I don’t cook her food right….. Nothing is right. Right Now!
And while I was able to keep expectations out of the birthday, I know I am setting expectations of what this storm will be like. I am bracing for the storm, for the calls home from school, for the calls from other parents. To bear the brunt of the storm as I often become the target for shooting practice. I need to consciously let go of expectations that what happened after the last storm will happen this time. I recognize that while I didn’t have expectations for the birthday, I am setting them now. I need to let go of them. And yet I still brace.
Outsiders looking in see a young girl who cannot control herself. They see a girl who is acting out. Those of us on the inside admit she is acting out. But we know she is acting out from a place of pain. The hardest part as a parent and stepparent is working with her, explaining the pros and cons of different choices, etc… and seeing her repeat the same choices each and every time she has a painful episode relating to her mom.
I always say that I wish she had a healthy relationship with her mom. Many call me crazy for saying that but the reality is that her mom lives in her heart and right now there is an unhealthy relationship with mom who is hurting her residing within my stepdaughter’s heart. I want there to be a healthy, positive mom living in her heart. I know that I can be a positive role model to my stepdaughter but no one can or should replace mom. I pray that my stepdaughter will have a peace in her heart about her mom and about herself.
I now focus on letting go of expectations and taking each day of the storm for what it is.
Only when my stepdaughter has peace in her heart and I can recognize and let go of all expectations, will we have calm after the calm. And that is what I strive for.
I do have to mention that a card did arrive from her mom after her birthday. My stepdaughter was disappointed with it. I’m sure her mom meant well with what she sent but it didn’t set well with my stepdaughter. In her mind, it was another disappointment. This has only fueled her anger. Her mom also called and my stepdaughter refused to pick up the phone. She shared her reasons with her therapist.
Closed For Business…. this is one of the mantras I want you to stick in your head and say to yourself the next time your partner’s ex or your stepkids (or anyone else for that matter) starts the crazy talk with and/or about you.
Something we all know but forget in the heat of the moment….You Can’t Fight Crazy!
Don’t even try. You’ll end up feeling emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted because your words of reason are bound to fall on deaf ears when someone is hell bent on making you miserable.
In fact, I want you to get out two sticky notes right now and write down:
Closed For Business
You Can’t Fight Crazy
and put them where you will see them as a reminder to ignore any crazy talk that is sent your way.
You need your emotional energy. Those calls/texts/in-person rants at pick up time suck your energy levels dry. Don’t give anyone your permission to zap your emotional, physical, spiritual energy with negativity.
You can stand strong in the midst of a “hate” storm and the best way to do it is put up the umbrella of no entrance and let the toxic cocktail slide down your back without ever feeling or tasting a drop.
If your stepchildren’s mother is sending you infuriating text messages….block her.
If she is calling and leaving rude messages…..block her from your cell/don’t listen to the messages on your home phone.
When you cannot get along with the mother of your stepchildren limit or end any interaction. Allow your husband (who loves YOU) to deal with any issues relating to the kids.
But don’t just stop there. Don’t ask him what was said after he speaks with his ex. If the schedule impacts you, then you should know about the schedule changes and only the schedule changes. If it doesn’t, then you are emotionally better off not knowing details of the conversation.
Let’s face it. If you and/or your husband have a tumultuous relationship with your stepchildren’s mother then the less you know, the better. You’ll never be pleased. You’ll get angry at the “fakeness” if she’s “all nice” to your husband on the phone or you’ll get frustrated and angry if she is trying to manipulate your man and/or the situation.
This same philosophy holds true for your stepchildren and actually for any relationship in your life.
If someone is bent on being a certain way or thinking things you know aren’t true then don’t listen. Remember, you can’t fight crazy! but you can go crazy trying!
One of my fav quotes is “he who angers you, controls you!” Do you really want to give someone that type of control over your thoughts, your day? Because that is what we do when we respond to ridiculous comments aimed to hurt us.
I can’t say this often enough…You define You! Don’t let any toxic words tell you who you are.
And don’t spend precious mental energy trying to figure out the Why’s behind it all. You don’t think like they do and you aren’t in their shoes so you’ll never be able to reason the Why’s.
It’s hard not to respond BUT it is possible. One of the best ways to do it is to not listen or engage! You need to close down for business so to speak. You will reopen when an amicable relationship is possible. Not until then.
I know this post is a little in your face. But I’ve felt the pain in many Smom’s calls for help lately. Holidays can be hard for many and often it’s as if the stepmom has a bullseye on her back and she is the target for a lot of pain that others are feeling.
Stay strong my friends. Press on. Close for business when needed.