Overwhelmed? Remember the bird’s-eye view.

9 12 2009

Several stepmothers have told me recently they feel overwhelmed by all the things they feel they’re “supposed” to do to make their stepfamilies work. And understandably so. Not only do we have to learn how to live in the same physical space with children not our own, we have to figure out how to be married to the particular person we chose. We have to spend one-on-one time, conduct family meetings, find ways to bond with our husband and stepchildren, and somehow figure out how to become emotionally mature enough to handle the ex wife with grace.


On top of that we might have to maintain our jobs, our friendships or relationships with our families of origin. We need to exercise, plan menus so we can eat right, find time for self-care, visit our place of worship, and volunteer.


We need to run the household and keep tabs on the emotional lives of everyone in our home to make sure that everyone is getting along. We have to parent and stepparent in a way that helps to raise successful adults. If we have pets we must feed them, walk them, bathe them, and pet them.

It’s enough to drive a grown woman to her knees, right?

When I am feeling overwhelmed with the sheer number of things I feel I have to do, I take a moment to switch into my hawk vision. Like putting on a pair of magical goggles, I work to remember that everything doesn’t have to (and likely can’t) happen overnight. Stepfamilies take time to develop. People need time to get to know each other and figure out how they’ll live together. Wounds need time to recover and souls need time to grow. Knowing that I don’t have to figure everything out, solve all the problems, and bond all the time with everyone in my family makes it easier for me to relax and allow our relationships to develop organically.

I’m not superwoman. And neither are you.

So this year I’m going to take it easier on myself. Instead of trying to schedule alone time with each kid and my husband each and every week and then beating myself up because I missed a week while I was out of town , I’m going to commit to making sure I spend time with them THIS YEAR. Now that I can do.



4 responses

10 12 2009

Great message… and timely. You are a gift.

10 12 2009
Peggy Nolan


One of the lessons I have learned over the years is that when I say YES to one thing, I say NO to another. We can’t possibly do everything in a single day. We can’t possibly please every one all of the time.

The one thing I can do is be my authentic self. That’s the only person I ever need to be. And those around me know that.

I’m a recovering people pleaser and tomorrow night I’m not going to the company Christmas party because I’m on track to become a first degree black belt and need to be in class (see, I say Yes to thai kickboxing and no to the Christmas party)

In the space of a comment, I gave up what I’m “supposed to do” because that’s living by someone else’s expectations, and simply decided to be me.


10 12 2009

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by everything we have going on in our lives. When you add to that the pressures of being a stepmom, it’s enough to run your self-esteem right into the ground. (That’s how it goes for me, anyway.)

Right now I am once again in that place where I need to step back, think about what is important, what is possible, and what is simply too much. Over the past few weeks, I’ve pared back activities and tried to focus on things one at a time.

This is a great post. Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to shift goals if needed.

6 01 2010

It’s so easy to lose ourselves to the stepfamily chaos. And Sherri, you are so right to point out that it is our self-esteem that takes a major beating. it’s important to do things that help you remember (and love!) who you are.

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