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.
I love the first line in Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life , “It’s not about you.” If only I could remember that line each time I feel under attack by my stepdaughter. While my brain knows that my stepdaughter’s misbehavior and verbal outbursts are not aimed to take me down, my heart doesn’t receive the message at the moment of impact.
As you probably know from visiting my site and reading my blogs that I am a mom of four and a custodial smom of two more. Because my SDs haven’t seen their mom in over four years and because they still carry that spirit of rejection deep within their souls I try super hard to be the mom for them. However, I do not want to replace their mom or have them call me mom (that’s how I came to use smom) but I want to be a mom they can count on.
Because they live with us full-time, I am the one that helps with their homework, schedules their play dates, makes their birthday cakes, buys their gifts for holidays, includes them in all the little rituals that I do for my own biological kids, and the list goes on as I’m sure yours does as well. While I do all those things out of love, I am often rejected and hurt by the younger of the two. I am thankful for the relationship that my oldest SD and I have. Because that has happened so naturally, I get even more hurt when the other SD lashes out at me and won’t let me in. I take it very personally. Ouch!!!
Last night, I listened to The Stepmoms Toolbox on www.blogtalkradio.com and Peggy and Erin interviewed Cathryn Bond Doyle from www.smoms.org. The topic was don’t take things personally. I felt as if Cathryn’s words of wisdom were aimed directly at me. I wondered at times if she had been watching me. But I know that it is her experience talking as she has worked with stepmoms long enough to know that we all walk a similar journey and we each struggle with taking things personally. She is a stepmom and knows firsthand the importance of not allowing our husband’s ex-wife or our stepkids to define who we are.
I would urge you to go to Peggy Nolan’s site, www.thestepmomstoolbox.com, and listen to last night’s show. If you are struggling with your relationship with your husband’s ex and/or any of your stepchildren – this program is a must.
Taking things personally, whether it is from your stepkids, your husband’s ex-wife, your biological kids or even from your spouse is an occupational hazard of becoming a stepmom. But I know it is a hazard that can be avoided with a lot of hard work, determination, and the right tools. Last night show will give you some great tools.
My greatest takeaway is that I am actually gaining power over my own emotions and life when I give up the power to know everything and control certain situations. When I choose not to take something personally, I am empowering myself to have peace in my heart. What a gift that I can give myself.
Another important piece of wisdom I gathered from Cathryn was her explanation of why stepkids lash out. She said that many times, our stepkids wish their bio mom was doing the things we are doing and they feel if they appreciate us then in their minds they are being disloyal to their BM. They lash out at their stepmom in order to gain some space because they really don’t want us doing the things they wish their BM was doing for them. They are afraid to get to close to us at the risk of angering their natural parent. They are upset they aren’t getting from their biological mom what they are getting from you and the only way they know to get you, the stepmom; to stop is with poor verbal and/or physical behavior.
We all know how it feels when we let someone get the best of us. It can ruin that minute, that hour, that day and sometimes our whole week and beyond. I don’t want to give anyone that type of power over me. While it’s hard to do, I am the one who decides whether to internalize or reject someone else’s hurtful words.
Another piece of wise advice from Cathryn that I will be taking to heart immediately is to ask yourself before you do something for your stepkid if you expect to be appreciated. She recommends doing things with no expectation for appreciation. If you are going to be hurt if you don’t get a thank you then don’t do it.
I am so excited about what I learned last night from the show that I am committing to putting my new knowledge to work. What a blessing I can become to myself, to my husband, to our marriage and to all of our kids if I learn not to take things personally.
Please join me as I challenge myself to not take things personally. I’m committing to do this for 3 weeks (21 days – the amount it takes to form and/or break a habit). So each time, my stepdaughter lashes out at me or her mom calls and causes chaos in our home, I am going to stop and say to myself “is this worth me losing my peace of mind?” And I believe the answer will be NO. I will blog daily about my trials and successes.
I pledge to do my best to not take things personally and to forgive myself when I do starting today, February 16, 2010.
Join and follow me on this journey!
Visit Peggy Nolan’s website http://thestepmomstoolbox.com/. She’s got great information for us stepmoms and while you are there, read my story on her site. You’ll see a photo from our wedding. While we all know the Brady Bunch is a myth, the photograph captures the classic staircase photo we all remember from the show.
Thank you to Peggy for the post and for the wonderful introduction into our amazing stepmom community.