A Healthy Stepmother . . . digs down.

Queen's Christmas tree at Windsor Castle 1848,...

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This is the time of the year I dig down, deep. I dig down to find the bone I buried on another day when my energy and enthusiasm were over-flowing because I knew I’d need it and want it for these days around the holidays. My dogs do that. They actually bury their bones, at least on occasion. Mostly they gnash and chew and thoroughly enjoy them. But once in a while, they bury the offered bone.

Here we are on the 21st of December in my family that celebrates Christmas. My husband and I usually have three Christmas’s, this year we’ll have four. I’m not depleted right now, but I’m beginning to feel my expectation of being depleted ramping up into higher gear remembering the many ways I was depleted in the last few years.

So far, this year has been . . . not perfect, but good. Even fine on some days. So, what to do about the increasing sense that it’s all about to fall apart? The dread of some of the patterns from the past years has crept through my resolve to enjoy Christmas.

Indeed, I am enjoying Christmas this year. My husband helped me decorate and we had a great time. We used a live Douglas Fir tree we had in a pot in the yard and moved it to our porch outside the front window. We dressed it in lights and basic red ornaments. That combined with our usual icicle lights strung across the front of the house and our Boy Scout wreath, and we’re definitely in the spirit.

We used an old card tree that cards slid out of almost every time a new card was added. It’s in the shape of a tree anyway so we hung it up and draped it with ornaments. I also set up my Santa collection. Finally, there’s the slew of candles on the mantle that I light every day. All combine to leave me satisfied and contemplative about the contemplative things of the season.

Even so, the dread is mounting and it’s doing me much good to remember that I am not the only woman going through the holiday scramble. I send this shout out to all you stepmothers who’ve been reading the blog. Dig down. Not to be the perfect woman. Not to look like a Barbie for Christmas. Not to make the most perfect meal a woman ever made. Dig down for the whiff of yourself you buried on one of those last days you were sensing a surplus of you. Go find that self, that bit of you you buried. Bring it back out into the light and carry it with you, either in a locket around your neck or in your pocket like a talisman.

You can find it.

It’s there.

Dig down.

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5 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . digs down.

  1. How is it you always find a way to write exactly how I feel?
    I started cheerful this year but am atruggling at the moment, almost grieving for stuff I havent thought about for a while. Like you the decorations make me happy and a ride around the neighborhood to look at festive lights is my buried bone. I am struggling for some connection to the traditions of Christmases past.
    I wish you peace.

    • Diana, hmmmmm I have a feeling you and I are in the company of a zillion stepmothers across the nation and maybe the world who are struggling with the same issues. It’s funny how we get to thinking it’s just us, well for me, I used to think it was just me. In fact, one of my new neighbors revealed to me that she is worrying about her relationship with her soon-to-be stepdaughter. And, so it goes…….

      After posting this, I’ve had more thoughts. I can’t make Christmas the Christmas-of-Christmases for my stepkids. I can’t even help them get those warm and fuzzy memories back from their childhood. And trust me, I remember looking for those warm and fuzzy memories also, like maybe even last year, haha. It is so very simple to fall into the fantasy of how it can be and lose track of the how-it-is. So, this morning when my husband told me that his daughter just sent him a text that her freshman college roommate had lost her mother, she had died very suddenly a few days ago, I stopped. Everything crystallized. It’s okay. It’s okay for the kids to have expectations and it’s okay if we can’t meet all of them. It’s okay if I’m grieving because this is the time of year the memories come crashing in. It’s okay if I miss my mom because she loved Christmas more than anyone else I know. It’s okay if each person doesn’t get every single thing he or she wants. It’s even okay if people don’t like me. It’s all okay. We are well and doing our best, my husband and I. That’s enough. In fact, that’s all we can do.

      So, I’m relaxing even one more step. I’m going to go make an actual list of some things I can do in the next 4 days that will calm me down. One of them is to begin crocheting a scarf. When I have my hands busy, I can calm myself with the rhythm of the process and keep focused on something positive. I always thought my great-grandmother crocheted because she was fascinated with it, but I can see now how it must have been one of the things that calmed her down. I have a lovely tablecloth that she crocheted more than 50 years ago and I’m going to put it over the other tablecloth this year. Ok…..now I’m finding my bone. This is feeling better.

      Diana, I hope you find something like that to anchor you also. And, thanks so much for commenting. Warm wishes for peace!!!

    • Back at you, Jill, sending love down the coast. I’m thinking the magic is in the moments that unexpectedly present themselves. Like today, my client canceled at noon and I found myself with a 2-hour space in which to walk the dogs and sip a cup of tea to re-root myself. I know you’ve got your magic.

  2. Dear Kim and Hello everyone,

    Your shout out and response to Diana brought a wave of emotion over me (and I can hear Jack Johnson crooning in the wave…..a good feeling of connection to other women living similar experiences. Thank you for drawing us together, so we can share each other’s strengths and draw on each other for support. As well, I love your analogys to dogs (I use my dog for comfort too!)!! Cheers everyone…..Merry Christmas.

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