Step mums tend to expect a great deal from themselves. This comes from the societal pressure of already being judged as an evil step mum and so your main mission is to try and prove them wrong.
This guilt then makes us end up with the fixer syndrome, where we want to fix the broken family and have our own happily ever after. So when these stepfamily relationships don’t pan out as we had hoped, step mums blame themselves. Admit it. We spend a lot of time should-ing all over ourselves. (Go ahead and say it out loud for a good laugh—you could use one.) “Should” is my least favourite word. By its very definition, it implies judgment.
Guilt results from the erroneous assumption that a stepmother can actually change the step kids, the ex, the in-laws and the family dynamics. Thus, she should simply try harder.
I wish I had figured this out a lot sooner, because I spent years trying to do a whole lot of fixing. I sincerely thought I could solve everything and help everyone if I just tried hard enough.
What a waste of energy it was, because most of the issues a blended family faces come from the divorce, which the stepmother (hopefully) had nothing to do with.
As wonderful as I’m sure you are, you can’t fix everything.
I was working too hard, trying to be the best cook, the coolest step, the most fun. At some point I broke down because it was not sustainable, I just could not do it anymore, I burnt out!!
This was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. I had to stop being overly nice to my step children, trying to compensate for their loss and heart ache.
I could not heal their wounds because I did not inflict them in the first place. All I could do is to try and make it bearable for my step kids and their dad, so that with time they may find forgiveness and healing in their own way, each at their own time.
The real me had to come out at some point. I had to set up our own family, with our own new rules and on our terms. I had to be myself and let the children also be free to be themselves and go through the transition the best way we all knew how.
Funny enough over time, the kids respected me more for being real with them and as long as they could see my sincerity in accepting them and loving them, they understood that I am not perfect. We just needed to operate like any other normal blended family.
All said and done, together we have since formed our own unique family. It cannot be the same family they had before, that is just not possible. And in the process I hope that the new family has given them the space to start a new and make peace with their loss…
Let me know what your experience with guilt as a new step mum were like….