Trying to find the perfect balance between a stepmother role and still maintaining what I can only refer to as “your own life” can seem impossible most days. I’ve been working harder at it recently after a horrible, drama filled episode happened, orchestrated by none other than Carlos’ ex wife. There was a rage and a switch that happened within me. You know the feeling where you throw your hands up in the air and finally say the words you’ve sworn you wouldn’t say – I can’t do this anymore.
When I say I can’t do this anymore, I don’t mean the relationship or this life. When I say I can’t do this anymore I am talking about the drama, the control, the concern, and all of the emotional baggage and stress that goes with having to be anything but cordial with a bitter, high-conflict ex wife. I feel that many step mothers lose their minds and their way because we’ve poured all of ourselves and then some into every inch and ounce of this life. We take on roles we want and most we don’t want. We reschedule our lives around children and court ordered agreements that don’t even involve us. We read books and blogs and search out ways to create a family with this pre-existing entity so that everyone can work together in peace and harmony.
When I said I can’t do this anymore, I had to find Jen. There was nothing wrong in my efforts to be the best and do the best for the boys. But along the way, the past 3 years, it has cost me all of who I am. The things that made me who I am have somehow been pressed down and stashed away into a blank space, and forgotten about. Instead of taking care of myself and making space for the boys in my life, I was forcing and warping myself into a role that fits into their lives. It’s backwards to put it bluntly. I decided I needed to pull back, take care of myself, and focus on things that I can control. Fortunately I have a great relationship with the boys full of love and respect for each other. When the ex isn’t involved, we have a peaceful home, so stepping back to rebuild wouldn’t hurt the family dynamic that we have.
I had to start asking myself all the questions like what makes me happy, what’s the point of all this, the end goal, what life do I want!? You think the answers would flow right out of you but believe me they don’t. I hadn’t asked myself about myself in so long that I had no idea what I actually wanted. For me, I was just trying to survive until the next pick up. Honestly I felt if I could just get through this until the kids are 10, then I can relax. When they can think and speak for themselves, when the ex didn’t need to have as much contact with us for things, yes, then I could relax. That’s crazy talk!
I realized that it is very big of me or any person to ambitiously and whole heartedly take on the role of raising someone else’s child(ren) in their absence. To truly care about them, their well being and their future is not common. I owe these kids nothing. I am not tied to any court order to provide them with anything. I don’t have to attend any school events, I don’t have to spend time with them, I don’t even have to acknowledge their presence in my home. To do what myself and so many other step parents do is such an amazing and wonderful thing. In saying that, we deserve to be happy as well. Just because you fell in love with someone who has children doesn’t mean you have now sacrificed your family dreams and relationship priorities, or your life priorities. My life is just as important as theirs and I don’t have to give anything up to be in this relationship.
That being said, I’ve made some solid plans for myself starting in the new year, taking up piano lessons and horseback riding lessons to name a couple. It’s been a rough month but I’ve stopped doing things I don’t want to do. I don’t “play” a role anymore. If I don’t want to go to something then I don’t, if I don’t want to do something then I don’t. It’s a constant adjustment for myself and Carlos considering that I was all in for everything. Instead of spending the week off from the kids planning what we will do when they get back, we spend time together and invest in our relationship, taking advantage of the alone time. I have to say so far so good but it’s still a major work in process. When you stop everything and dive into what’s going on and how you feel you start to see other areas of your life that need attention.
I have to say that I am actually really excited and looking forward to starting some new things. I have something to look forward to instead of just trying to get through something. Now I’ll have more to focus on and talk about besides just the kids. For others in my same situation I would say don’t sacrifice yourself for the decisions of others. Realize that you are an extra blessing to the situation but in no way are you a prisoner to a role. Live your best life and continue to be happy. ❤