Tomorrow is SS8’s play at school. FDH and I are going as his my MIL. We invited BM and her mother so suspect they will also be there. MIL asked for us to bring SD4 to the play (she would normally be at daycare during that time). FDH said yes we’ll bring her to the play. I think it’s good for her to go to the school and will be fun to see her brother…
But I am REALLY REALLY NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!!!!! SD4 and I are really close. But I know when she sees BM tomorrow she will want to sit with her rather than with me and FDH. I understand why she’s a little girl and loves BM. But it’s really going to hurt my feelings… how can I brace myself for this?
Hi, This is probably going to be one of many events that bring up this important issue for you. I hope I can offer you something that makes sense for you. It’s certainly natural to feel hurt or left out when stepkids choose their bio-moms over us. The difference is going to be how you decide to handle your feelings. The good news is you have a few choices. How you choose to think and feel will have positive or negative impact on you and your stepkids. In your situation, you’re feeling what many bio-moms feels when their own children rush to see their Stepmoms. Kids/stepkids do this out of pure enthusiasm and the desire for more love. They’ll take it wherever they can get it. You have a chance to do some real, wise loving things in this situation.
You also have a chance to help this little girl feel good about having a bio-mom AND a Stepmom. You can help her see that it’s not going to have to be a choice, that she is not going to be punished by anyone for loving both of you. You have a chance to spare her a potential “loyalty war” between her parental units. (See Smommentary about Loyalty Wars for more information) You can sit in that room, knowing that you two are close, trusting that love AND knowing that a child’s biological,energetic connection to her mom’s is a physiological bond that can be dreaded/resisted by you OR that can be embraced by you and her Dad. She is 4. She is not responsible for the choices of the adults who control her life. She feels any tension and doesn’t understand it. You can love her from across the room in a way that will impact her deeply, even if she can never express it. She will feel your love even when she is not sitting with you because your heart will be open. Remember that famous saying, “When you love someone, set them free…”?
You, wonderful SMOM, are older and wiser than your skid. You can do the very thing many of us wish the bio-moms would do for us at times like this…you can be your gracious, generous thoughtful self and put her well being ahead of your tender feelings…for the time of the play. YOU are strong enough to find a way to do what is right for your little skid. This option is a tough, yet wonderful choice that you can make. You do have others but I’m not suggesting them. Your attitude and energy will be crystal clear to your skid precisely because she is 4. SO I’m not suggesting you act from a suffering victim perspective, but from the place of a powerful woman, confident enough in the love connection you share with your stepdaughter, to give her the freedom (the gift actually) to openly love and receive love from her mother. She CAN love you both. She can love you all.
If you are anxious or angry about her choice, she will feel your apprehension. From the perspective of a little one, she’s not able to understand all the nuances of the circumstances. Children love their mothers and it’s good for them to get as much love as they can from as many people as they can. This is one of the things we wish all our bio-moms would understand, but many don’t. From the sounds of it, she’ll be going home with you and her Dad. Think of the joy you can give her if she can go to school, see her brother perform, get the attention of her mom and grandmoms AND then get to re-live it by telling you and her Dad about everything she saw and felt and loved about the day?!?
Can you see, again from her perspective how much joy and love and happiness you have the ability to give her? Would you be willing to give your beloved stepdaughter the gift of being able to enthusiastically and openly be happy to see her bio-mom? To me, this is what mothering is about. The gift of giving someone what they need, because we can.
Now, to your feelings. They deserve to be honored and I also know about how it feels to be left out of school events. The adult woman you are, understands about kids wanting to be with their bio-moms. Seems you understand the logic of the situation. It’s not the logic of the situation that is upsetting you. It’s the emotions that need our attention right now, right? It can be helpful to separate our thoughts from our feelings so we can better support our process. The emotional part of you, who is feeling badly about her wanting to “choose” her mom (over sitting with you) for this event needs some huge doses of lovingkindness and nurturing self-talk.
Can you give yourself a lot of love and support about this so you can free up/spare this dear little girl from having the responsibility of helping or hurting you? When we can realize that many of our own hurt feelings need OUR attention then we can help ourselves without needing anyone else to do or say anything. It is really the beginning of being able to be self-reliant and empowered in a whole new way. Kids and SKids will push all our unhealed buttons and as you step up and find ways to help yourself when your feelings need attention-this is going to give you lots of powerful energy going forward and save you lots of lost time.
Can you trust that as a smart adult woman you’ll find a way to support yourself and your feelings about this situation so that you can attend this play with your head up and your heart wide open? Can you know that the hurt feelings will be supported by your friends, your sister SMOMS and hopefully your sweetheart?
Choice is a powerful thing. The more choices we are aware of for any given situation, the more powerful we feel when we finally make a choice. (You may want to read my article about choices. I think it is called “Are your choices based on courage or fear?”) Sometimes it can also be helpful to fast forward and imagine how you will feel after you have made your choice-as if you are looking back a year later. I hope that you’ll see that by making the choice to go to the play and be OK with wherever your stepdaughter chooses to sit, you are showing your stepdaughter that it’s OK (and safe) for her to love both you and her bio-mom. I think you’d feel proud of yourself for giving her that gift. We are here to help you. What choice feels right for you?
Good Luck. Your Stepdaughter is a very lucky 4 year old. Best Wishes, Cathryn