A Healthy Stepmother . . . salutes average.

She peeled away her expectations of joyous connection to her husband’s children. She peeled away the unrealistic idea that she would fall in love with them like she fell in love with her husband. She peeled away the enormity of the extended family expectations that she would behave a certain way in any given moment and always look her best and always smile and always give. And give. And give. And she peeled away their shocked and upset look when she didn’t live up to their expectations.

She opened her hand and blew, like she was blowing the unrealistic idea of who she would be as a stepmother AWAY!

Then, she looked around. Sure enough, there were still dust bunnies of ideas of how she should behave under the couch, behind the drapes in the dining room, and along the edges of the hallway. The mass of stereotypes of stepmother and womanly behavior were as thick as her dog’s coat when it was shedding. So, she brushed and vacuumed and coaxed them out and put them in the garbage.

And so, finally.

There was calm.

The expectations quieted down and time passed. Shoulders that had hunched in defense softened and furrowed brows smoothed.

Without warning, a space opened into what had felt like a battle zone. She eyed the space warily. It was definitely not to be trusted. What about that time . . . ? What about when they . . . ? Feeling cautious, she waited.

And waited.

And, when after more time had passed with no negative events, no angry reactions, and no challenges, she calmed even more. It was then that she decided that even if something unexpected and negative and uncomfortable occurred in the future, she’d just stand there and let it swirl around her.

The calm grew and more space opened and the idea of being in the same room and sharing the same holidays seemed less challenging, less difficult, and less uncomfortable.

And, came a day when they DID do an activity together and it was fun. It was unladen with family politics. The day unfolded with enough tradition to keep it structured and enough unstructure to keep it spontaneous.

In the end, it wasn’t about everyone being close. It was about staying open to the group and the idea of being this group. It was about sharing the attention. It was about giving and getting, with every one of them contributing. It was about receiving the giving graciously and appreciatively.

It was a very simple day.

Uncomplicated, average, and fun!

4 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . salutes average.

  1. This is so beautifully written. I am so glad you have found a peaceful place. I am still striving to find this place, but have faith that it will happen.

    I love the power of this — “It was then that she decided that even if something unexpected and negative and uncomfortable occurred in the future, she’d just stand there and let it swirl around her.” Perfectly put and expressed beautifully.

  2. And, what I hope came through is that every one of us in the interaction stayed open to the idea of the group, this group. It wasn’t just the stepmother. The shift came because everyone else also gave up their seat of self-righteous rightness.

    But, there are many days that are not this way. Swirling emotions are hard to navigate even with a compass, so the difficulties are never over. They ebb and flow, like the tide, or like the dust bunnies my dogs create. But, even when I pick up the dust bunnies, I don’t swear at the dogs. I just scoop them up and dispose of them, no muss, no fuss. Sometimes the dogs are watching me and I wonder if they know what is happening.

    Whew . . . were every member of a stepfamily to shift just the tiniest amount, imagine where we would all be.

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