Early in a second marriage with children, most of us likely found ourselves deeply committed to doing everything together, especially those of us without children of our own. We wanted to contribute to the family and tried hard to fit in because we’d signed on and by-gum we were going to live up to our promise. And, in our enthusiasm to help, to fit, to meld, to be together, we might have pushed on and pushed on and pushed on even after we were exhausted, with nothing left to give and no idea of what else to do.
What would a second marriage feel like if someone had told you that you didn’t need to push so hard in those first days, months, and years? Even now, years later, it’s helpful to have the reminder to pause . . . to wait, to see what the options in a situation might be.
And, let’s be honest, in our culture we women are conditioned to “see” things and our assessment leads us to naturally want to correct the course of what we can see will happen in the near future, especially if that things looks to be negative. We are adept at planning, implementing, and timing. It’s as if we can juggle and drink coffee at the same time, all without batting an eyelash.
Outfitted with all this discernment, we might find ourselves diving head-long into a situation that isn’t ours to be in. Not to say that every situation calls for us to sit back, but many of them do in a second marriage. Saying “I do” does not mean “I do everything that needs doing, in the second it needs doing.”
Enter the pause.
Pausing is an art in the world of public-speaking and we stepmothers might take note of what it does for a person. A well-timed pause adds emphasis. A pause adds a moment for the listener to take note of what the speaker has just said, to really understand the information in it’s fullest measure. A pause gives the speaker time to collect her thoughts. Most important, the pause is a physiological necessity, giving the speaker time to refill her lungs.
Pauses are sometimes thought of as silence and some researchers lump the pause and a moment of silence together, while others separate them in terms of the motivation of the speaker. Though they might seem the same, a well-timed pause looks and feels different from a stalk-from-the-room silence in terms of posture, tone, and tension.
To pause is to ponder your choices. What do you want to do in response to that event, action, situation? What is being asked of you? If you respond without the pause, you may find yourself halfway through a response and saying to yourself, “why am I doing this?”
Thus, every stepmother should make friends with “the pause.”