take a deep breath and let it go
Never in my wildest imaginings did I think that I would be taking advice from Justin Beiber. I mean, what is even with that? But here I am, admitting my shame and sharing it with the world. It’s funny how stuff penetrates your subconscious isn’t it? I basically blame the kids for this embarrassing situation because every day when I take them to school or pick them up in the afternoon, I let them take turns to choose the songs. It’s safe to say that it’s generally not to my personal taste but I’m all about sacrifice for the greater good and I found that the bickering that was plaguing me the whole way to school stopped abruptly when I let them be the DJ’s – they got to school happy and subsequently I was happy too and my day continued on without my usual dose of morning angst.
Sadly, they’re at the age where the Beibs is on high rotation and the Major Lazer song ‘Cold Water’ on which he features has just been on nonstop, obviously in between ‘I’m Still Standing’ from Sing! and something about all my friends being heathens.
Somewhere between home and school the other day, the lyrics of ‘Cold Water’ registered in my brain and I was like ‘when did Justin Beiber get all wise like that’. Actually it’s a safe bet that he didn’t even write these words, but here I am still trying to recover from the shock of kinda enjoying a Justin Beiber song let alone what it means that I’m taking the lyrics to heart.
Which I’m embarrassed to admit, I have done. Because the third line of the song is ‘take a deep breath and let it go’. So simple. Not even remotely deep. But obviously exactly what I needed to hear.
Because something rather unexpected I’ve discovered about myself as a stepmum is that I have a tendency to hang onto stuff. I take it a little bit personally when the kids don’t like what I’ve made for dinner, or they don’t instantly appreciate something I’ve put thought and effort into getting for them. I’m constantly second-guessing myself. Was that the right thing to say or do? Did I get it wrong?
The thing that is the hardest for me to take a deep breath and let go of is my desire for them to like me. I’ve never in my life felt this need to be liked so strongly and it’s a bit terrifying. I’m not even expecting them to love me yet, because its obviously way too soon for that – but I desperately want them to like me. Because of course my worry is that if they don’t like me, they won’t want to be here with us spending time with their dad and that would just kill him. So I hang on to every little thing and tie myself up in knots trying to make sure that everything is right when they’re with us. And of course I fail – I’m no Carol Brady. Not to mention that it’s completely unreasonable to expect family life to be clear sailing all the time – there is always going to be stuff that happens. But (and even as I write this I know how ridiculous it is) somehow when you feel like you are on the outside of their little family unit, it becomes your job to ensure that everything runs smoothly all the time. And you just put a whole bunch of pressure on yourself to be amazing and fun and good at everything. Which is crazy, because who can actually be that person in real life?
So I’ve decided that I need to make a completely conscious decision on a daily basis to take a deep breath and just let stuff go.
Shockingly, this is way easier said than done. And requires a great deal of patience, with yourself and with your little humans. So every day now I try and pre-empt that feeling of being a complete failure at stepmumming by reminding myself that the whole blended family thing is a steep learning curve for us all – me and Jake and the kids and every day I do the very best I can and then I get to start fresh again the next day – and that’s okay. And that patience and kindness will always triumph over resentment and bitterness.
What I really want to know is what other stepmums have done to get through this part of the stepmum gig. Justin Beiber tells me that I shouldn’t be drowning on my own so I’m putting it out there – was there something you did or read or learnt the hard way that helped you not to burst into tears whenever you got attitude from your kids, or they made a fuss about the delicious dinner you’d slaved over that they hated? Or what about when they break the house rules? So many times I just want to let them get away with stuff so they will like me and think I’m cool. I’m not even a little bit cool by the way, but I really want them to think that I am. What did you do? Hit me with a comment below if you’ve got any words of wisdom for me. Because lets face it, I need all the help I can get!