Thank you to The Goodness Chick for today's post!
Step-Moms everywhere, unite! In a society where the step mom is depicted by rage, crazy talk and even sliding her step-daughter a poisoned apple (thank-you, Disney) it can be tough stuff holding this title. We're a club of women that start the game out at a disadvantage and often, we have our work cut out for us in altering that mindset. Rocking out step-mom status is not for the faint of heart. It can be challenging, wonderful, stress provoking, cry induced and beautiful at the same time. It has the potential to be the craziest, most amazing rollercoaster ride of your life.
The quality of your experience as a step-mom will largely connect to the support and backing of your spouse. With Mother's Day right around the corner, we need to set the record straight and get our Step-Mother power on! Let's make Step Mother's Day a holiday that begins in our own home!
Our homes consist of a blended family. When we take a vow with our spouse it is a life long commitment to them and our newly established family.We may start out as products of a divorce or that of our spouse. It may be a new start from being a widow or widower. Every one of us has our own circumstances.
What I encourage newly married couples or those even fifteen years in is to discuss the reality of gratitude and your role in the family dynamics between you and your spouse. When it comes to young children, teens and even those in their college years gratitude and appreciation can often be lacking. Kick this up about a thousand percent when you throw a step parent in the equation. The quality of your relationship with your own children and step-children is partially pending on the support of your spouse. It's laying down a foundation for the value they will hold for you.
You may be called mom by your step children or you may be on a first name basis. If your kids celebrate you on Mother's Day, I applaud you. If it's more of a holiday that does, but doesn't apply to you this is where we get the wheels spinning. You may never be mom. Maybe you want to. Maybe you don't want to. The point is, as a step mom you're kind of in the weirdest in and out club ever. You're loaded with the responsibility of meals, laundry, house cleaning, taxi driver and emotional vending machine. But when it comes to the one time of year, "hey, thanks for being awesome" with a card and possible breakfast in bed you're out of luck.
New day, new traditions and new expectations....
This, my friends, needs to change. Respect and compassion are two traits we aim to instill in our kids. When we miss out on teachable moments we lose and they lose. It starts with you, yes you. If your kids do not respect you or gain insight into all that you do every single day they are missing out on who you are. If they don't know you and merely equate you to a human vending machine your relationship will be superficial and fragmented. This is where Step-Mother's Day has to become an observed Holiday in your home. You want to feel more respected and acknowledged? Bring on the newly founded Step-Mother's Day!
Step-Mother's Day....the new holiday
Sit with your spouse and chat about a date to designate for you. Yup, you deserve it! Here are a few ideas for your family:
• Have your kids write a card
• Kids and hubby are in charge of breakfast or dinner
• During breakfast or dinner everyone goes around the table and says one thing that they appreciate about you
Add to this, if you feel the need. I encourage you to make this part of your family traditions. It is not selfish, it is necessary.
A step-mom can often be overlooked and taken for granted. It's a tough gig. Sometimes you can feel unappreciated and misplaced. Speak up, lay your ground and get your r-e-s-p-e-c-t zone on.
As parents we can undervalue our own value. Disallowing our kids to appreciate us as parents is crazy. You are worth celebrating. Being taken for granted and unappreciated is one of the biggest mistakes we can make as parents. It reinforces selfishness. It disallows selflessness. Explain what appreciation looks like. Set an example as one of the heads of your household. You can do it. Remember, it will strengthen your young person and the ties you have as a family.
I remember my first few years as a step mom. As a high school counselor I had worked with kids for years with step parents. I was a youth leader. Transitioning into an actual real, live step mom was a whole different ball game. My husband was a widower with two girls, 14 and 16 years of age. I made an effort to never attempt to assume the role of mom, but I certainly was a parent.
The first two and a half years nearly sunk me. It was tough. Super duper tough. I had all of the responsibility of a parent, but not much of a say in decisions, opinions with situations. Coming into the game with teenagers leaves little room for changing things up. I never expected anything on Mother's Day, but part of me expected well...something. I felt insignificant and some of that was my insecurities and lack of voicing my opinion. To feel like your kids, step-kids are unaware of who you are as a person is a challenge. It was hard to digest.
Time, assertiveness and comfort....
I've been married almost eight years. I reflect back to how I lost my voice because of insecurity. There was fear I wouldn't be accepted. Now, my security in myself and my role allow for a healthier me and healthier family structure. I know I deserve to be appreciated and to be known as a parent and person.
I encourage you to allow yourself to be appreciated. You deserve it. Your children owe it to themselves (yes, they do) and to you. As a parent we cater to our kids and spouse around the clock. What we need is a balance. If our kids think the world revolves around them there is no room to consider value outside of them. When they are given, given, given incessantly they only think of themselves. This is a disservice to their character and your family dynamic.
Operation Step Mother's Day must become part of your family tradition. It will empower you. This will strengthen your relationship with your spouse and children. You can do it! Get that confidence on, sit down with your spouse and know that you are worth it!
Get out that calendar and decide on an annual date, set it in stone and let's get it rolling. Here's to a Happy Step-Mother's Day to you and all my fellow epic Step-Moms!