“When you take it personally, you eat it up, and now it becomes your garbage.” (Ken Lauher)
I became a mother in 1993. I’ve done a lot of parenting (and correcting of inappropriate behavior) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year in and year out. I’ve also done a lot of celebrating, cheerleading, taxi driving, cooking, cleaning, laundry, tutoring, teaching, friendshipping and dancing (as in, dance parties in the kitchen)—all part of the territory! Motherhood has been my greatest joy; being a mother has been the finest thing I’ve ever done.
Enter divorce. Followed by a second marriage. To a man with four children. Totally uncharted territory for me the day I became…a stepmother. Sort of. I noticed the older adult children introduced me to everyone as their “dad’s wife,” and I realized the adult children don’t see me as their parent in any form. (For the record, I’m o.k. with that. I’d probably feel the same way in their shoes.) So we like each other and get along for now, and I’m hopeful that as most great relationships are founded in friendship, with time, many relationships grow to feel like “family” and maybe that’s what will happen with us.
However the youngest child moved into my home and we began the blending process. (Life in the blender, as one friend, also divorced and remarried, told me they call it at their house!) There have been steps forward and steps backward, complicated by completely opposite family cultures.
In an effort to better understand my stepson, I found myself constantly evaluating what had to be the logic and reasoning behind his choices and behavior. It was all so different from anything I’d experienced, as a parent, before; I was always attemtping to “walk in his shoes,” which resulted in me taking some of his behavior personally.
As soon as I realized that, I was appalled! I’d never taken my other children’s behavior and choices, or any other child’s behavior and choices, personally. WHY would I ever think to do that with a stepchild?
I wouldn’t. It was my step-parenting epiphany.
Second marriage moment #28: don’t take the choices or behavior of stepchildren personally. I don’t think it’s ever about you, it’s about the situation. So just let it go, every time, and love them anyway.
Pretty good advice for life, too.