Lessons I have learned? I have been thinking on this for a couple of weeks, I hope I have it put into words properly now… here it goes…
1. Trust your FDH/DH with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. Because this is the man you love, there will be trails and angst you would never have faced otherwise. If you can’t trust your man you need to step back. Now.
2. Love. The stress and changes you are about to embark on (or are in the middle of) are not easy. Remember to love your FDH/DH and show him you love him and show him how much you are willing to make it through the mud.
3. Take time for yourself. I did not in the beginning and it about ruined me. Do not leave your pre smom life behind. It will morph and it will change, but remember to go out with your girlfriends and talk about frivolous things. Remember to keep up with book club or pool league or scrapbooking or whatever it is that made you “tick” pre-smom life really should stay in your life. Otherwise you are at risk of losing yourself to this man and his child(ren).
4. You do not have to do everything. You are not a mother (of these kids at least) and you are not required to cook their meals, make their bed, pick up their stuff, wash their clothes, or buy them ice cream. You MAY do all or some of these things, but do it because you WANT to. Otherwise the resentment will build up and ultimately put up a wall between you and your sweetheart.
5. Take time to get to know the skid(s). Observe their likes and dislikes, figure out what is REALLY important that they do with JUST their dad and what you can join in on. Make sure that, just like you need alone time with FDH/DH the stepkids get some too.
6. Be nice to BM. This may be the hardest on my list, and I don’t know if everyone would agree with me, but the pure rage and red I would see when I saw her, or her name was mentioned wasn’t healthy. Not every BM is the wicked witch of the west, some are, and that’s a misfortune I have little dealings with. But in my lucky lucky case, BM is sane and a good person. The first year was pure hell. Neither of us was ready for each other and BM and FDH fought a lot. The three of us are now a team, a harmonious one, for the most part. I know this is a rare case, but FDH and I opened the door for her, we were nice to her, even when she was a wicked witch. I always said hi with a smile and was conscience of how things I said or did would make her feel. Some I censored, some I didn’t. – This is the goal of many step families and its tricky. It may come and go and it may never come. I guess my point is put yourself in her shoes before you judge her. “Stepwives” the book, helped me a lot during the dark times.
7. Stick to the contract. Follow the contract as much as possible not ONLY for the adults sanity, but kids need structure. They already have two houses and multiple parents, but if the parenting plan is all over the place they are more likely to act out and not feel “at home” with you. Plus, if you have a structure your life doesn’t revolve around BM and and stepkids, and “will I see them today?” type questions.
8. Its ok to be angry. Its ok to be mournful, its ok to think “these stinking little monsters are ruining my life!” as long as you are able to acknowledge and let go. Its not the stepkids fault their parents aren’t together anymore. Remember compassion when dealing with them, but know sometimes, they are just going to be punks.
9. Smoms.org is the website that saved my sanity. The women here are the strongest people I know. Its a safe haven that I am very grateful for. Just know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Being a smom is hard work and pretty thankless work, but there are subtle rewards that can make it all worth it.