It's too much work- I need help from DH & Family!
I feel like I’m the one constantly adjusting and doing the lion share of the management of my new family.
I’ve been a stepmom for almost three years, however, I’ve known my step children for almost 4 years prior to me and my husband getting married. I’ve been through so much over the last 3 years as I tried to blend myself and daughter with my husband and his son and daughter.
Things like the bio-mom coming into our home anytime she liked (and my husband not stepping up to set boundaries); to their unconventional shared parenting arrangements of their children staying one week at their bio moms and one week with us changing each Friday; this arrangement led to inconsistencies at each home about expectations regarding cleanliness; educational aspirations; transportation to programs and extra curricular activities; payments on kids activities; parent teacher's conferences; dietary needs-you name it, I endured it.
This complex journey for me as a new stepmom was only half the equation. My daughter was resentful towards the children and my husband as she felt she was having to constantly share me with others. She started acted really mean to her new step siblings and they retaliated against her collectively...such a royal mess. (Please note, after dating my husband for 4 years, his children and my daughter collectively asked us to get married and that they approved of us doing so).
Fast forward into the third year, my stepson chose to live with his Mom-a really weird decision because he always lamented about how she was never home and never having food in the house and the house always being dirty etc. She recently got engaged earlier this week and my step children will soon have a new stepdad and step-brother and step-sister so stay tuned.
It’s important to note, the man their mom is marrying is a person she met a little less than a month ago. He proposed to their mother after 29 days of meeting her. Bio-mom has already begun moving into her new fiancé home he shares with his son (he keeps full-time).... stay tuned as I’m sure the plot will thicken). Both of my step children are less than thrilled about their mom's new relationship. About three months prior to bio-mom's announcement, my step daughter decided to live with my husband, me, and my daughter. She said although she loves her bio-mom very much, she was not dependable, didn't have food in the house and step-daughter was more content with us.
The new arrangement seems to be working better. My daughter and step-daughter have developed a relationship or at least some kind of agreement. Under the new living arrangements, my step children spend each weekend with a parent on a rotation basis each parent can see both kids together every other weekend as well as get a weekend off from parenting (something I’m a bit jealous of because my daughter's father has never taken care of our daughter-so I’ve never had a weekend off from parenting-ever!!!)
So now that we’re through the rough living together adjustments, what I find really stressful is the lack of communication between me and my husband about how to manage the kids while on summer break; and how my stepson will get to school since he is living farther out (in a different school district) etc.
You might wonder I feel responsible or even feel frustrated about not knowing the answer to these and other similar questions. Well, let's just say for the last three years based on my husband's schedule and their bio mom's schedule, no one was able to take them to school except me and no one was able to pick them up from school except my Mom. Additionally, my husband works afternoons and is not there when they get home from school nor will be there for much of the day because of his work schedule that I’m the one they depend on for entertainment, transportation etc. This is a bit overwhelming for me.
I feel as though since I’m managing the family, no one is willing to assist because I am doing such a good job. I need help...I need my husband to take ownership and leadership of this family. I also need their mom to step up to the plate. She has gotten slightly better since I've had a "coming to Jesus" meeting with her about taking responsibility for her kids-this occurred after several discussions with my husband to do so to no avail leaving me frustrated and stressed. Nothing much has changed. After celebrating father's day, my stepson is still here (was due to go back to his mom's yesterday evening) but he is still here. I have asked my husband if he is going back to his bio mom's house and he says it depends on what he wants to do? Huh???? Can we just get some structure?
I feel like things just happen in our family and as a stepmom I have to just adjust to whatever comes next...It’s so stressful to have to work a full-time executive job, raise my daughter and step daughter and step son on a part time basis; try to guide them and nurture them because quite frankly they are not getting it from the bio mom or from their dad.
I know I’m not supposed to fix anyone but there’s such emotional neglect going on here that it’s driving me bonkers. If only everyone would step up and communicate things would be so much better.
It’s important to note my daughter and step son are the same age (17) , in the same school, and my step daughter is 14 going on 15 and also at the same school. So I’m certain that living in a home with three teens is enough to stress anyone out but layer the step parenting stuff on top and I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.
How can I reduce the overwhelming stress of my new family and create a system of balance and a bit of loose structure to keep my sanity?
Let me start off with offering you a big giant hug and “umbrellie” drink for you today. A stepmom from Australia started that about 8-9 years ago. It sounds like you deserve the whole tropical vacation from what you (and so many other stepmoms) are experiencing. I’m so sorry for all the uncomfortable and exhausting feelings you’re having now and the accumulation of stress from so many years of trying so hard to help, please and support your family. They are very lucky to have you. However, it sounds like you’re ready for some much needed “re-balancing” of family responsibilities. It’s a good thing. So many of us are givers and often we have to give to the near end of our sanity and limits before we are willing to make changes.
You said it, If only everyone would step up and communicate things would be so much better.” I agree. Sadly, when they don’t, we fill in with the ever-optimistic view that they’ll come around.
Let’s see if I can offer some support for you in your process of feeling better and re-claiming your sanity and sense of well-being. There’s a lot going on and so there’s no way I can give you a complete answer in these 30 minutes, but I’ll give you some things to think about and try.
Seems to me that it’s time for a family meeting about some of the things that can be changed. Start making a list of all the things that have to be accomplished each week, as many tasks, chores and responsibilities you can think of. If you write out the list down one side, put your names across the top. Show them the imbalance of the present situation and then give them a copy so they can look it over. If you want, make a second page that shows how you’d like to distribute the list. Make a list for each person so they can see what you are asking each of them to do. Summer time often brings a different sets of chores so you can so this again when school starts.
You may have already tried something like this. Seems the key thing is for you to be ready to impose (and live with) the consequences of other’s NOT doing their share. Seems like you have been “wonder woman” and the others are happy to have you continue. After you’ve read this post and some recommended readings, maybe you’ll feel ready for “family meeting” that will change the situation. (Here’s Hoping!)
You know the whole Serenity Prayer? Well, we have a SMOMS Serenity prayer that we created shortly after I started the group. You can see it on the “About us” page. I see that there are some things you can change, some things you can shift your perspective about (if you want to) and some things that you’re going to have to decide whether you can live with...or not.
I heard Wayne Dyer say this 30+ years ago, “We teach people how to treat us.” Sadly, in our enthusiasm to make things work and the joy we receive from making others happy, we often compromise or lose our boundaries over time without realizing it. (Thinking one day, “Where the heck are my needs, rights and boundaries?)
Have you read the post I wrote about “Resentments” yet? This will give you lots of ideas and some tactical suggestions for how to process and resolve many of the things that have happened in the past. While the past is over, emotional energy stay with us until it is recognized (made conscious), acknowledged (witnessed, felt deeply by you & honored by you) and then finally moved out of our emotional and physical bodies.
About living with 3 teens, have you read the book, “Get out of my life, but first could you take me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony Wolfe? Lots of insights and practical ideas to consider as you prepare for a new way in your home.
About you being at the end of your rope...in the book, “The Surrendered Wife” by Laura Doyle (no relation), she talks about telling our husbands, I CAN’T do (fill in) anymore. You need to handle this from now on, will you please do that for me?” She write about how men aren’t swayed by logic as much as they are about being the guy who CAN help us. Not sure it will work but it sure avoids all the defensive explanations, reasons, pleading, etc. Another idea for your new approach?!?
I wrote 2 articles entitled, “Boundaries for Nice People” and there are lots of ideas for you to consider in them. You can find them, under the “Get Help” button on the home page, under Relationship articles-if you are interested.
Whenever we join with others, there are so many beliefs we bring with us. What we should and shouldn’t do? what others should and shouldn’t do? What we should say? what a good wife, good mother, good friend would do with or without being asked? etc? These beliefs can lead us to doing things that do not serve our own well-ing. This is why motherhood (and stepmotherhood) and martyrhood are so easily intertwining pathways. Trusting that YOU know your limits. Believing that YOU have a right (the freedom) to say “No” and still be loved and honored-is another very important aspect of our situations.
You’re frustrations and angers are trying to get your attention and tell you that things need to change, that your well-being needs to be protected and that your energy allocation needs to be re-aligned. Seems you’re clear on the areas that need to be adjusted. Can you give yourself permission to advocate for yourself? Can you look at this with the business savvy side of yourself and treat it like a re-allocation of job responsibilities? Can you step into that powerful part of yourself who knows she is wonderful, wise, loving AND deserving of honoring her own limits?
May you find the courage and awareness, creativity and energy you need as you step into the next phase of your journey. Seems to me that you’re on the right path. Teach those around you a new way to treat you. You deserve that!
My Best wishes, Cathryn