“Just let it go!”
Easier said than done for most of us.
“Letting go” is about much more than simply acting like something doesn’t bother you anymore. It’s about consciously moving on without allowing counter-productive thoughts to clutter your mind and essentially consume your life.
There will come a point in your step-mothering journey when you realize you’re hanging on to way too much emotional and mental baggage that needs to be let go of.
Even if you have a good relationship with your stepchild (or stepchildren) there are bound to be things that still drive you bat sh*t crazy. The same goes for your relationship with the biological mom (if there is a relationship).
If you’re a stepmom and you’re human, then you’ve probably dealt with some ugly thoughts and emotions at some point. It’s not pretty and it’s not what most of us ultimately want to have inside our heads — but it’s normal.
For a woman to care for, nurture, and essentially help to raise a child in this world either part time or full time it’s a challenge not to feel protective or even possessive over your stepchildren. Having little or no control over major decisions in the life of your stepchild, yet finding yourself dealing with the aftermath of those decisions, is really one of the deepest struggles any stepmom will face.
Coming to terms with the fact that you are not a biological parent who has full rights over your stepchildren or that you can’t make all the decisions can be exasperating for many stepmoms out there — especially the ones who are used to being in control, are extremely involved, and have a very close bond with their stepchildren.
I’ll admit it, I’m a control freak by nature and that often spills into my step-parenting. I constantly have to remind myself to pull back. There’s a mom and a dad who get first dibs on decisions. I’ve spent years practicing the art of sitting back and letting them do what is ultimately their responsibility. This includes swallowing choices that I completely disagree with.
As a stepmom, you’re there as a guide and a support system.
It’s a natural emotion to feel like a protective mama bear when you see something is going wrong with your stepchild or stepchildren. One of the harshest lessons a stepmom will come up against is learning how to stand aside and let go of controlling situations that affect a stepchild she cares about.
If your stepchild is in an unsafe or violent situation and you feel you need to take action — that’s a whole other story. I’m talking about the day to day decisions that must be gracefully and willingly handed over by a stepmother to the biological parents.
My journey of learning to let go is rooted in the desire to live a life free of unnecessary chaos. One of the things that helps me get through is remembering what’s positive about not having complete control over everything. I remind myself that it’s actually a relief not to have to be the one making all of the decisions in regards to my stepchild. I can cross that off my to-do list and focus my attention elsewhere. I really can.
Once you allow yourself to let go of that steering wheel you’ve been so desperately clutching onto and plop yourself in the backseat — you’ll realize that it’s not so bad. It’s actually freeing. Let mom or dad make the decisions and also let them deal with the consequences of those decisions. If you find yourself stuck in the middle over a decision — just keep referring it back to mom or dad.
As a stepmom, you’re there as a guide and a support system. While you can patiently listen to the gripes of your stepchildren over decisions made by their biological parents, you can also take comfort in knowing that you were not behind those decisions.
In the end, there are certain issues you are simply not responsible for. Instead of taking on anger over the things you can’t control or feel you need to control — focus on accepting what is happening versus what you think should happen.
It takes practice — trust me. But it’s well worth trying. Start with the small issues and work your way up. You’re definitely going to fail a bunch of times — of course. But other times you’ll get that taste of what truly letting go feels like. For real.
Michelle Zunter is a Canadian-turned-American living, loving, & writing in California. You can read Michelle’s lifestyle blogs about love, sex, relationships, marriage, divorce, parenting, step-parenting & much more at The Pondering Nook. You can also listen to Michelle co-hosting at The Broad’s Way Podcast discussing similar topics.