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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stepping Through Mothers Day

The best word that I can use to describe blended family dynamics is "complicated."  Because motherhood is such an emotionally charged role, the event of Mothers Day has the potential to trigger feelings that range from disappointment, joy, despair, longing and bitterness.  Being a stepmother is a gift, but this kind of motherhood must be embraced with the right perspective and with wisdom.

One thing I have to remember, my stepdaughters were raised with a different attitude toward holidays than me.  In my family of origin, we took every opportunity to celebrate ... including those notorious "Hallmark Holidays."  So, we always made a big deal out of our mother on her special day.  My steps don't do cards and such, but they like to make memories.  We are more likely to enjoy a special meal or a hike together.  Expecting cards or gushy words would be a setup for disappointment.

In addition, it is realistic for me to remember that these girls have a mother who is involved in their lives.  One of the best ways I can support them is to encourage a healthy relationship with their mother.  I don't want them to feel torn in any way and loving her does not diminish our own unique relationship.  Honoring her is the right and healthy thing to do.  So as I made plans for this Sunday, I mentioned to Mr. Wonderful that I assumed his girls were having lunch with their mother?  Yes, indeed.

If you are a stepmom, keep in mind:
  • Don't force or expect step children to do something special on this day.  For me, it helped to break any tension and speak out by saying something like, "I'm glad to be your stepmom and I know your mother feels so lucky to be your mama!"  Silence and unspoken expectations only lead to insecurity for all people involved.
  • Children may feel torn or that acknowledging you somehow lessens the day for their own mother.  Mother-loyalty will trump stepmom affection.  This depends entirely on how their mother regards your role in their life, which is out of your control.
  • One sibling may want to honor you, while another feels awkward or disloyal.  That's okay!  We know we have unique relationships with each of our family members.
  • It's okay to let your husband know you would like to go to lunch or spend the day with him.  He might take this opportunity to honor the role you have in helping with his children.  After all, you get a great deal of the responsibility without much of the glory.  If no one else honors your role, enact some serious self care and honor yourself with a day of relaxation or whatever else makes you smile!  Remember, this one day does not define you or the important role you play in your home.
  • Some people celebrate Stepmother's Day or Step Family Day - would this work for you?
Are you a stepmom?  How do you feel on this day?  What things make you feel treasured at home?  Did you have a stepmother?  Did the way you acknowledge her change through the years.  Are you married to a stepmom?  How will you show your appreciation?  


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