Ahhh May..the month of flowers aaand Mother’s day. As a stepmom THAT day can create an angsty build up before hand. It can conjure up some serious feelings of resentment of the sacrifices made, pain, jealousy and insecurity. Every stepmom journey is unique, however the previously mentioned feelings are common themes which seem to intensify before the second Sunday in May. The impact of THAT day is dependent on a few things. Our stepmom identity or role is one. Some of us jump in wholeheartedly into stepmom-dom, others kind of wade in slowly inch by inch, and some reject the need to be anything other than “Dad’s wife”. The other big impact on our perceptions of what Mother’s Day SHOULD be about and how it SHOULD be celebrated is how our partners perceive the day and overall, how much they have our back when it comes to the work we do as moms. I also have heard from the stepmoms I support time and again, the sting can be greater if you are a stepmom without bio children of your own. One of the other heavy hitters on the emphasis of this day is how much involvement you have as a result of custody. The friction may be greater if you are a 24- 7 mom.
But, that is what I want to share with you today about ‘managing’ the upcoming date. I call it expectation management. All of the ‘shoulds’ I capitalized above can be softened. As women, we have a tendency to run our lives based on the SHOULD factor. When we have these expectations, we then resist our reality. The greater and the stronger the expectation is and the longer and the harder we hang onto it, the more difference there is between our reality and the desired endpoint. Then, the more anger, pain and resentment we create. Here are some ways to soften your expectations and the blow:
1) There is Stepmother’s Day the following Sunday. If you didn’t know, now you do. And the recognition of the day is becoming more popular. Educate your partner. Educate others. We need to support other stepmoms by getting the word out. Do you know other stepmoms? Do they know about Stepmother’s Day? If not, book a brunch with your fellow stepmoms or some other fun activity to share your stories. There is power in story telling, sharing, being supported, being seen and being heard.
2) Whose standards are you measuring yourself up against? I think that Mother’s day is a wonderful 24 hours to acknowledge mom. But let’s get real. 24 hours for the 364 days of blood (hopefully not too much of this), sweat and tears we put into this gig?! Not realistic. And remember it is ONLY 24 hours. The other part of this 24 hours I’ve really noticed? The fact that it has become so monetized. Who is REALLY gaining from this? The companies- cards, flowers, chocolates- have a really great opportunity to market and cash in on this day. I think this is akin to how crazy all the other holidays are becoming. I’ve heard how some folks think St. Patrick’s day should be a national holiday everywhere outside Ireland.
3) I shouldn’t have to remind them. You’re right. That being said, do you want to spend the next few days leading up to THAT day to be miserable because they may or may not forget? Or even the few weeks before THAT day next year and the next year after to be miserable? You are stronger and smarter than that. You do have a choice. You can remind them and let the bitterness go or not. Up to you. You can also celebrate yourself and do your own thing. Or celebrate Stepmom’s day. Again, that choice is yours. Knowing you have many more choices and options is empowering when you feel like your stuck mentally and emotionally in a particular thought pattern.
4) Let go of the expectation our men understand what it is to be a mom. They aren’t moms. They aren’t women and they aren’t our girlfriends who get it like we do. Do father’s get the big pomp and circumstance for Father’s day? Not usually. And before you go down the path that we do more, don’t do that to yourself or your partner either. That’s another expectation and misconception I can bust another time 😊
5) You might be doing this to yourself. Do you or have you sacrificed so much you’ve lost yourself? Do you feel like if you don’t step up no one else will? Remember, you married your partner to be his wife or moved in to share your lives. That doesn’t equate to being a door mat and pleasing everyone else in lieu of your own sanity and well being. Have you put your self care on the backburner? Stop doing that. Focus on your needs. Set some boundaries and fill your cup. And NO, how the kids turn out is NOT a reflection of you in anyway. They have plenty of other outside influences and DNA plays a big role too.
I hope these five tips have helped you to shift your perspective. And trust me mama. I get you, I see you, I hear you and I honour you. Loads of love to you and a huge shout out for all of the things you do for the kids who weren’t born to you. You are not alone.