Halloween. One of those fun-filled holidays where we find cute, adorable faces smiling while begging for candy. I love it! And though I don't do it any longer, I used to love dressing up myself! I remember being a cowgirl and a princess, and even Casper the Friendly Ghost.
But Halloween reminds me that sometimes we as stepparents put on a mask....and then don't know how to take it off. Let me explain...
I have mentioned many times before that I met my husband when he was my boss. I knew him on a daily basis, through the grind of practicing law. We saw the good and bad in each other, in a multitude of situations.
When I met my stepchildren, I believe that I was my authentic self. But as I became more involved in their lives, I felt they were missing something. Perhaps something that I could give them. Without even sensing that I was doing it, I found myself morphing into someone that I wasn't. I began cooking and baking their favorite meals. I mended clothes. I attended every sporting event on the calendar. I did homework until late into the night. I agreed to read books in conjunction with the kids to help with their book reports. I cleaned their bathrooms and laundered their clothes. This left me with little or no time for myself. Work, which I had once taken so much pride in, was faltering on my list of priorities. I gave up reading, and exercising, two of my favorite pastimes. In essence, I was becoming less me.
I. Did. It. All. And then some. Don't get me wrong. I loved doing it, and I believed they benefitted from it. Their lives eased. They felt my connection to them. All good things, right? But for the fact that I was exhausted. Plus, I was doing a good deal of work that they were capable of doing on their own.
i wanted to achieve some degree of perfection for them. I thought that my attempts at perfection would make them more emotionally secure. By giving my all, I would assure them that I would do anything for them. After all, wasn't that the sentiment that I wished to convey?
Sort of. I wanted to show them love. What I was showing them was not only exhaustion, but tension and resentment. Yes, I loved doing it, but I deeply regretted not having time for me. I wasn't a happy momma!
You know the adage...."If it it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, my husband decided it was broken and he was going to fix it. He realized quickly the path that I was on and he forced me to realize the same. My perfection did not ensure emotional security or stability for my stepchildren. I could not fix their lives. Nor did I need to.
It wasn't long before he coaxed me into returning to the girl he had met. I began meeting up with friends at the gym. I started working on a book project, and joined a writers' group. I even took on additional job duties. And it all felt great.
i may not have been around to launder all of their clothes, but I was able to be a good example of a person loving their life. The clothes they could manage on their own. In fact, there were a number of things they could handle on their own, and needed to since they would soon be leaving the nest. Instead, I focused on the important things...school and sporting events, family dinners, game nights, etc. They didn't need a maid. (Okay, they did, but that's a whole other story!) What they really needed was for me to be me. I was the person their dad had invited to share his and their lives. He obviously felt I had something to offer them just as I am.
If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created
me otherwise. ~Johann von Goethe
The same goes for you. If you are attempting to be SuperStepmom, reconsider. Are you feeling resentful? Are you tending to chores your stepchildren need to learn? Are you trying to live up to everyone else's expectations? You and your partner committed to one another to enjoy each other and the family that you created together. If that's not the focus, maybe it's time to remove the mask.