Life, regardless of the unexpected circumstances you find yourself in, is a constant reminder of one important principle: hang in there. And nowhere am I reminded of this more than in my life as “my dad’s wife,” aka. stepmother, to mostly grown children. So for every woman married to a man who has children from another mother, this post’s for you.
Hang in there.
Acknowledge that, according to experts and professionals, the role of “stepmother” is the most difficult of all positions in life. So whether everything related to your opportunity (and it is exactly that, an opportunity) is a dream come true, whether it’s a work in progress, or whether it’s a situation in need of MUCH work and progress, hang in there! Because in this as in everything else in life, if you hang in there long enough and do everything you can to triumph, I know you eventually will. You’ll also learn important things and help others learn things along the way, too!
Case in point: the other day, my husband and I were reading a version of the story of Snow White to our youngest when, at the story’s completion, my husband looked at me and said, “Wow, I never knew that!”
“Never knew what?” I asked.
“That the wicked queen who hated Snow White and tried to kill her had been married to Snow White’s dad…” my husband began, but didn’t quite dare finish. “And…was…her…stepmother.”
Unfortunately, some of us haven’t had the luxury of remaining so blissfully ignorant. Not only was I raised on fairy tales and consider myself somewhat expert in their storylines, I am reminded of the whole stepmother thing at even the most unexpected times. Like last month.
My husband’s birthday was approaching so I texted his children: “You are all invited to dinner to celebrate your dad’s birthday. He will be thrilled to see you. Please let me know if you can come so I can plan the food,” and I listed the date and time. Within seconds, I got a response from our married son, “Yes! We will be there!”
I didn’t hear back from two of the children, which I’ve learned is typical; one never responds, but always attends and is cheerful and happy to be there, and the other usually responds at some point prior to the event, hasn’t missed a special dinner yet and is friendly and talkative while there. I’m grateful for their willingness to participate in family things.
The final response, from another, came a minute or two later: “Who is this???”
Lets just say that was the kindest and most respectful of the texts that followed from that particular child, and ALL the result of a simple invitation to dinner and dessert! It’s not like I was texting to hire a hit man (I mean, woodsman!) or to express a willingness to provide a poison comb or apple—just a simple home-cooked meal I’ve been told is in short supply in the kid’s life and I was happy to provide.
Such is the life of “a dad’s wife.” Franklin D. Roosevelt had some great advice for that position: ”When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt) That’s my plan, and I recommend it—hanging on—to everyone in any position or unexpected life situation.
Because maybe someday the cuisine you prepare will be so delicious and so memorable that everyone who partakes of it will at least remember who prepared it, cooked it, served it, hosted it, paid for it, cleaned up after it, and never asked for anything in return. And if not, if that day never comes, imagine the amazing culinary talents you’ll have developed thanks to your opportunity. And that’s exactly what it is. An opportunity—to hang in there AND to forgive. Hmmm…sounds a lot like life itself.
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” (Oscar Wilde)