Today is Step Family Day and like most of the blended family "celebration days," I'm just figuring out they existed after being in one for twelve years. I probably would have let this one pass had I not tuned into the Dr. Laura Berman radio show yesterday on my drive home. Dr. Berman mentioned that Step Family Day was Friday - wanted to know how people felt positive or negative.
Granted I didn't listen to the entire show, but it did seem like the majority of the comments were weighted to the down side of being in a blended family. Something that is really easy to do - having done it myself for years! As I was listening to one woman in particular go on for what seemed like an eternity about her step kids; how much she did for them, how glad she was to have a break - I found myself identifying with the woman. I've had those days myself.
Finally, Dr. Berman responded, suggesting a multitude of things to the woman. What resonated with me was her suggestion that perhaps part of the woman's frustration in dealing with her step kids, may be less about her step kids and more about them being, well......KIDS! There's a lightening bolt! Dr. Berman went on to say sometimes after a weekend with her OWN kids, she kisses the floor when she gets to work Monday morning.
It got me thinking.....Am I more offended when Little Hart(Step daughter) is behaving a certain way than I am with my own daughter? Do I expect Little Hart to respect me more than I do Elle? The short answer is Yes. And the long answer is well........YES - it's not intentional, but it does happen.
It's an easy thing to do, after all I'm raising a child that isn't mine biologically which means there are limitations as my role as her "mother." With those limitations comes my list of "all the things I do for Little Hart" at the ready to pull out when I feel I have to justify my seat at the big kids table. And there you have it - I've attached a whole heck of a lot of pressure and expectations on being appreciated for being a Mom(SM) to my child(SD). Expectations I don't have when it comes to my daughter Elle.
I noticed my high expectations last week when I asked Little Hart "How was your day?" Simple enough question. Her snarky response "How do you think it was?" Had my mind racing "If I had a F#$%&@# clue I wouldn't be asking!!" Instead of speaking my mind, I sheepishly said "ok then." Curt comments from a teenager are nothing new - except this was coming from Little Hart and it seemed to sink in instead of roll off my back like it usually does when they are coming from Elle.
I have to admit that my tunnel vision had me wallowing in a pity party for a day! I do all this for Little Hart and I get treated like this? That was until we ran into a good friend of mine that also happens to be Mom to twins(boy and a girl) who happen to be very good friends of Little Hart. We met in the parking lot of our favorite hangout - Hires.
Little Hart and I ended up jumping in their car - chatting away. My friend (also named Lisa) said "this one(pointing at her daughter the same age as Little Hart) has just been so mean to me lately! Of which I responded with my "how was your day story" only this time I shared the G rated version of what I was thinking, but in a sarcastic, fun way. We all had a good laugh including Little Hart!
So there I was face to face with the reality that Little Hart was just being a teenage daughter reacting to a Mom's seemingly pointless question. Not a step daughter disrespectful of her Step Mom. With that AHA moment I've been able to let the teenage moments roll off my back - be emotionally open and available for when she wants to talk, even about her day.
So on this Step Family Day - I find myself celebrating my Family without the blended or step. I plan to focus on letting go of my high expectations I have attached in the past to a step kid or my step family - so I can experience more joy from both!