Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Refuse to be a stepmonster. 10 Tips learned the hard way

Tomorrow I'm splurging on eyelash extensions for my oldest daughter and me. She gets rewarded for a great school year thus far and I get rewarded for (you guessed it) surviving my third stem cell transplant and spending 25 days in the hospital during the months of November and December. A fun opportunity for some mommy-daughter bonding. Morgan is so excited, she's been begging me for eyelashes forever and I've said no. Waste of money. But, my favorite motto, "life is too short" has ruled the day. If she wants fillers, she'll need to figure out how to pay for them herself.

Speaking for mommy-daughter bonding, here is my latest column via Divorced Moms.

The Stepmonster. 10 Lessons Learned The Hard Way 
BY LIZZY SMITH                   
March 16, 2016                
Becoming a new stepmom can be a daunting task. The rewards can also be amazing. But as you step into your new duties, despite all your good intentions, expect a bumpy road. To go into it believing otherwise will be your first mistake. Know that, likely, his children may not be nearly as excited and optimistic as you are. You may very well be stepping into a much more chaotic, painful and volatile environment than you (or he) realize. Caution is key, as if a lot of patience, love, kindness and forgiveness.

I've known lots of stepmoms, and stepmonsters. (Trust me, it's far better to be the stepmom.) Over the years, as I've talked and listened, there are some key facts learned in the trenches. Here are my top 10:

1. There may be no winning
You and your guy may be thinking that this whole blended family-thing will be easy-peasy. Careful! This is not the Brady Bunch. Simply put, know that even if you do everything right, his children may not like you very much, and they kind of deserve a big huge pass. As hard as it is to want (and expect) respect from his kids, you may not get it. Likely, the children, regardless of age, are in a world of hurt and adding yourself to the mix may be most unwelcomed.

My biggest advice is to smile a lot. Love his children. Talk to them. Keep an open line of communication. When all else fails, tell them that you struggle, too, and you have no idea how to behave. We moms are not perfect and it’s ok to stop pretending that we are. Be honest. And when you need a “time out,” go for a nice long walk.

Oftentimes things work themselves out over a period of time but it rarely happens instantly. Be patient. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

2. Remember, they’re kids (and they were there first)
His children were in the picture before you were. And his primary obligation is to his minor children. If this sounds sucky to you, you should find another guy. As a stepmom, acknowledge that they should come first (especially the younger they are). He has a financial, legal and moral obligation to the children he helped bring into the world. You should do nothing to undermine that.

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