Thursday, October 17, 2013

The 5 Tasks of Stepmommyhood

This past Saturday I spent an admittedly large part of my day browsing the internet. I didn't have much of a purpose in mind.I just was dealing with a sinus infection and didn't feel up to much else. Somewhere in my reading I stumbled about this article. Now I think most of us have heard of Kubler Ross's 5 Stages of Grief Model (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance) but this article related these stages to being tasks without a specific timeline. Something I hadn't seen before. And while reading these tasks it occurred to me that these "grief tasks" could just as easily be the tasks of "stepmommyhood". 

And so here is my personal take on these stepmommy tasks. 

Grief Stepmommyhood task #1: Acknowledging the reality
You are now a stepmom. Congratulations. With that comes an adorable child(ren), a doting husband, getting to be a mommy without the stretch marks and an instant family to dress in matching Christmas pajamas. Right... try a child (or children) who just might actually like you but is also struggling with loyalty issues, a husband who wants to make everyone (yes, even his ex) happy, the declarations of "you are NOT my mommy", and the inevitable stress of holiday schedules. And oh did I mention the ever present ex? 

Yes I'm being snarky. But you fellow step mommies get my drift. You can talk about the rewards and joys of your ready made family all day long. And its true. There are rewards. You can absolutely love, adore and be insanely happy with your husband and stepchild(ren). Yet the biggest truth of it all still remains. The reality is hard. Being a stepmom is not easy.

Grief Stepmommyhood task #2: Weathering the stress of separation
You fall into a rhythm with this whole family thing. You are making three (varying levels of) nutritious meals a day. Yes you. The girl who previously may have remembered to eat twice. On a good day. And one of those "meals" may or may not have been a pop tart. 

You are taking your family on exciting (albeit exhausting) day trips. You plan crafts and bike rides and movie nights... then Sunday rolls around. And you find yourself bursting into tears after the door closes and their mom drives off. With you heart in tow. 

Grief Stepmommyhood task #3: Adjusting to absence
The house is soooo quiet without the sounds of a child in it. Has it always been this quiet? You know, realistically, that is must have always been this way. And yet it feels empty. Without the hustle and bustle of a family what are you supposed to do? You're a parent. You need someone to parent. But they are with their mom. Oh wait! You still have your husband. Maybe you should plan a date. A movie! That's perfect. But the one you want to see is one your stepchild has been dying to see and you can't see it without him/her/them. So now what? 

Grief Stepmommyhood task #4: Revising your relationship to the deceased your step child
You crave acceptance from your stepchildren. You want them to think you're cool and fun. You want them to think of you as a friend. And yet you still want them to respect you and now that you're a parent. After all, you are their stepmom and that makes you a parent. Right? Or should you try and be their friend because they already have parents and maybe your role isn't the one of disciplinarian? Maybe you should take a step back and not be so involved. Then again you see that their step dad is pretty involved and if he is you should be too. But you read articles about this whole "step mom step back" thing and it kind of makes sense. Wait, what am I doing? What is my relationship to this child? What is my role? Do I have it all wrong? 

Grief Stepmommyhood task #5: Rewriting the storyline of your life
First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes baby in the baby carriage. Sounds simple enough. Unless your version includes stepkids and the presence of your husband's ex...

Do these "tasks" resonate with you as well? I'd love to hear from you.

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