Last week I REALLY struggled.
I had both the case of the winter blues, and the stepmom blues. To be honest, I'm not sure which one happened first but these blues have definitely fed off each other.
People may wonder why I share these "blues" and times of struggle with the internet, especially when I am an alleged "expert".
I'm not going to lie, sharing your deepest, darkest insecurities with the world can be pretty uncomfortable. Especially when you go to a public place and a complete stranger approaches you to ask how you're doing with whatever it is you've disclosed you're struggling with.
"How did you know that?" I often ask
"I read your blog"
"Oh yes, I shared that with the entire world didn't I?"
(Sometimes I forget that people actually read this thing)
But hey, the way I see it, I have a responsibility to keep it real.
Yes I (mostly) love being a stepmom.
Yes I have taught myself to maintain a pretty positive attitude.
Yes I've implemented strategies that have really helped our blended family thrive amongst the complications the come with step-parenting and blended family life.
But I am still human being with weaknesses and bad days.
Like everyone, I still get into slumps. I still feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I still feel sad and resentful. Sometimes I get into a dark(ISH), cranky place.
Like I've said before, I just don't allow myself to pack up and stay there. I don't let myself wallow it in for too long.
Part of my "snap out of it" process, is to share my struggles with all the women who have so loyally followed along over the past few years... I see it as a win, win.
It validates YOUR feelings and reminds you that YOU'RE not alone - while doing the same for me....
I'll start from the beginning.
I thrive off of structure and routine. Even though we live a very busy life, I still need time to relax and re-group. There comes a point in time where being "too busy" takes a toll on me. My cup gets empty, if you will!
Actually, If we're being honest, when we're too busy, I become irritable and a bit of a 5 letter word that starts with B. Just ask my husband.
Speaking of my husband, he loves to be on the go (like all the freaking time) - I on the other hand, really love my own house, my own bed, my own coffee and my own time. Too much road tripping can really get to me.
Our Christmas Break was great but was also FAR too busy for me.
We packed up all the presents, food and decorations and went to our cottage for Christmas.
We went to a party, hosted my family, came home for less than 12 hours, then went off to an overnight hockey tournament for my stepson.
I got the flu, then we came home for again less than 12 hours, then we were off to visit friends, who live 5 hours away, for 2 nights over New Years.
It was a lot. Even just typing it out exhausts me.
So my reserve/energy bank was already depleted when we started our Christmas Break "week-on" with the kids.
This Winter Break was so different with my stepchildren. As they get older they are naturally becoming more independent. It's nice, but also kind of sad.
I really miss the days when we scheduled fun activities, playdates and went to the movies over Christmas break..
Over the past week I've found the two older ones to be very distant. They're talking to me less and doing their own thing. Friends, boyfriends and independence are now the focus.
They opted out of coming to my niece's first birthday party - which I totally understood, but it also made me pretty sad.
There may or may not have been some minor backlash against completing some chores
We've also had a crazy and cold winter so far - so my husband and step kids have been out on the snowmobile trails most nights, leaving my daughter and I at home alone.
Having taken a step back in the parenting department with the older two (you can read about that HERE) I've been trying to figure out what my role is now... It's all unknown territory.
For the last 5 years, a huge part of my identity has been based on my "stepmom" status. With their independence and my decision to take a step-back... other than laundry, dinner, and being a chauffeur, there isn't a lot of step-momming to do.
To be honest, I've always felt like we are one big family - but last week I felt very separate. Like it was us and them.
Being in the emotional and exhausted state I was, I took all this really personally.
I thought it was about me as their stepmom - a sort of rebellion against my role in their life
(Trust me, as I type this I know how silly it sounds)
When I confessed how I was feeling to my husband, he reassured me that this had absolutely nothing to do with me being their stepmom.... and told me I was being WAY too sensitive!
He too had asked the kids to complete tasks that went un-done
He too felt like they were being a bit distant
He was also pretty confident that they wouldn't want to attend ANY family event right now - not just events for my family
He also reminded me that in previous years, we had all gone snowmobiling together - but with the frigid temperatures, it just wasn't safe for Reese to be out in the cold. (That and I didn't want to be outside)
He felt bad that they had been out every night, but explained that he is also feeling them slip away and wants to spend as much time with them as possible... while they are still interested!
(Do you ever look back on slumps and ruts and thing, "man I was being ridiculous" - that's what I'm doing as I type this out!)
I'm not sharing this with you because I want to disclose to the internet how ridiculous and oversensitive I can be - I want to show you that as stepmoms, we often overthink things, and take everything WAY too personally.
We tend to think that any struggle or rebellion from our stepchildren is a result of our stepmom status. We automatically think "they don't respect me as a parental figure in their life", "they don't want me around", "I'm an outsider here"
And hey, I'm not going to lie, there ARE situations where this rings true... however many times, it's just kid's being kids and acting in age appropriate ways.
Teengers in "first families" become independent, distant and want to spend more time with their friends.
Kids in first families "forget" to complete chores or try to take the easy way out.
Attitude and testing boundaries is part of the growing up process.
Older kids in first families get to go out and do more things than the toddlers.
Moms often are the one's who stay behind to tend to the little ones (even though that sounds a bit 1950's)
None of this had anything to do with our stepfamily dynamic and everything to do with age appropriate behaviour!
The take home for this blog post? Keep your cup full, try not to overthink things & bookmark this post so that when you're feeling that way, you can come back here and read this...
Hopefully doing so will prevent your husband from thinking you are as dramatic and oversensitive as mine thought I was last week! ;)