A Healthy Stepmother . . . knows done.

There comes a moment with a person you’ve struggled with that you know you are simply done. Maybe you reach done because the internal storm can only keep it’s energy for so long. Maybe the done moment occurs because you get bored and interested in other things. Or, maybe you become done with the difficult person because you realize that you’ll never connect in the way you’d really like to connect and you’re wasting your breath.

However, with certain people we come close to erasing ourselves before we quit trying. It’s as if the self gets caught up in the clutching and the trying and we can’t let go even if we wanted. While it’s our human spirit to keep trying and keep hoping that things will be different, it can be wearing and exhausting.

The other day a conversation with my dad started the same way it always starts, with the same dance unfolding . . . he made a comment in a certain tone, I shrugged my shoulders with a certain eye roll, then he huffed back with some snotty remark, but this time rather than protest again or try to reason with him I simply got up from the table with my cup of tea and moved to a chair in the living room. He knew he’d lost me and he declared since we’re done here I might as well leave. He left and I sat, relieved, and watched the rain fall onto already over-saturated earth. I was done.

It occurred to me that stepmother relationships with stepkids follow this pattern. And whether my relationship with my dad prepared me for this time in my stepkids lives or if it was the other way around and the stepkids have helped hone my skills for interacting with my dad, I may never know. For sure, it’s mighty familiar and mighty tiresome.

"Sleeping Princess" by Viktor Vasnetsov

Image via Wikipedia

The other day with my dad, I woke up to the alternatives to suffering silently or not silently, as did Sleeping Beauty after the apple fell out of her mouth. She woke up and looked around and said oh no what the heck happened. I felt that way with my dad the other day, as if I’d been awakened after a long sleep and realized I’d been standing in line waiting for something to happen that was never going to happen.

[                                        ]

That was space.

[                                                  ]

That was even more space.

We need space to let our old habits come to a close and for the new done-not-pursuing-you feeling to take hold.

For the record, my dad and my stepkids are important people in my life and I’m not done in the sense of no more contact. I just mean done with the emotional dance that keeps a person trapped in the not-good-enough and over-trying relationship. I’m done making it such hard work.

And, most important, I think we can only perceive the done moment when we slack off of the trying and persisting. We have to ease up a little and see and feel the internal storm clearly so we can sense and know if we are truly done.

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7 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . knows done.

  1. 😉 well, it’s a clear place. Not always an easy place, but a very clear place. We’ll see how it goes, on all fronts and with all relationships. I have a feeling though that it’ll be different with each person, that my “done-meter” will register differently depending on the situation.

  2. Thanks for giving voice to this place of detachment. Not a door-slamming detachment but a quiet, time to take a seat detachment.
    I am there now after a recent visit and her disacknowledgement of her dad’s birthday. Done. And although it isn’t a place of joy (not yet, anyway) it is a place of peace. Done resisting. Done wrestling. Done pretending. Done trying so freaking hard. Giving everything to the being I call God. Thank you again, sister.

    • I love that…….a quiet, time to take a seat detachment. Perfect description of how it feels. Done running around trying to make something happen. Time to stop pecking at the scraps and go take a roost and lay an egg. Haha, I love chickens and that just popped into my mind as I was responding to you.

      Thank you for your comments, Tatum.

  3. Another truly wonderful post. I can certainly relate to this…quiet. I no longer get upset – outwardly or inward. I have a serene sense of calm. I control myself and no longer allow others the luxury of yanking my chain. I have found simply retreating and reminding myself that “I don’t mind and you don’t matter” and by that I mean what you portray me as isn’t my reality.

  4. I can relate to being “done” with trying so hard with my stepkids. I had made myself miserable by being the self-appointed “bad cop” in the home because my husband chooses not to take charge of parenting. I finally quit that job and it is a huge relief. My explanation to my husband is, I refuse to try harder with your kids than you do. When I was the only one telling them to practice piano, read 20 minutes a night, clean up after yourselves…. I was the much-resented stepmonster while Dad got to be the fun parent. Now I have resigned from reminding, nagging, giving or revoking permission and curfews, “eat your vegetables”, etc. I can’t stop WANTING the kids to behave in a certain way, but I’ve stopped trying to control them. I’d like to think that I am finally giving my husband the space and opportunity to step up to parenting rather than me stepping in and rescuing.

    • Well said, Savanna. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was thinking of when I said, I’m done. I don’t call it the bad cop, but maybe I should have, lol. I have called it being the Helper, and the Great Healer. Which is such a burden we women take on when we could be doing less and being more effective. And, that last bit…..the wanting isn’t gone. Couldn’t agree more. It’s the response to the wanting and the knee-jerk response to “DO” something. It is, in fact, someone else’s to do.

      Woot . . . I’m thinking this all spells out f-r-e-e-d-o-m. And, eventually for your husband also. Thanks for the comment, resonating loudly here in Portland.

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