The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it ~ Steven Pressfield
I have a secret...I'm a step-mom. A role often portrayed with evil undertones or by a flippant, selfish woman.
That's not me. I'm not the evil step-mom. Nor am I a woman who was self-absorbed and never had children. Fortunately, my life has been much more complicated than that...Yes, I said fortunately...
I've journeyed through the emotions and grief of not having my own children, struggled through the options of adopting and fostering and then found peace and comfort in believing I have actually been called and chosen to be a step-mom and aunt.
But, some days it scares me to death.
If you looked at my resume, I'm perfect for the job.
I'm a licensed mental health professional - actually with a couple of extra credentials...started my career with six years of work in some hard core residential juvenile facilities...eleven years working in elementary, middle and high schools as a school psychologist and now the last four and a half years in full-time private practice as a therapist.
I've completed continuing education training in trauma (I think that's perfectly appropriate for step-parenting), marriage, step-family development, parenting, assessment, mediation...you name it - after 15 years of being licensed in the mental health field, I have thousands of hours of professional development.
On paper, I'm the perfect step-mom. In reality, there is no perfection in any type of parenting.
There are struggles. There are emotions. There are worries.
It's hard some days. It's maddening other days.
This journey has brought much laughter and also many tears.
I've been given an opportunity to love two amazing boys I wouldn't have had the possibility of growing with...it is definitely a journey I didn't seek, yet a journey I am learning to enjoy and embrace.
Being a step-mom was not in my childhood dream. I never daydreamed..."When I grow up, I want to marry and divorce and then after failing at it once, I want to marry someone who also failed at a marriage...oh, and please include children and an ex-wife in that package."
No one...not one single little girl...has ever dreamed of being a step-mom.
Little girls put on the princess dresses...no one even manufactures step-mom costumes...because it's a complicated role and difficult to define.
And just like many other roles we assume in life - if you aren't in them, you don't necessarily understand them. Honestly, there are many days, even after five years, I don't even understand the task at hand...nor do I always know my role.
But, you can guarantee I've studied for this gig. Even the best students don't always perform at their highest level and I've had plenty of times I've walked away knowing I didn't engage my skill set to the fullest.
There is a ton of pressure to perform as a step-mom - especially without biological children...this is it for me. Not only am I critiquing myself, there are plenty of others on the sidelines judging, too. And there are the cheerleaders, as well.
As the boys have gotten older, they face more obstacles of peer pressure, making choices independently, and having the responsibilities and consequences of those choices.
And, just like a biological parent, I face more worry time. Did I say the right thing 3 years ago when I "taught" them to apologize? Have I asked for too much structure in the time they are with us? Did I put too many restrictions on technology? Are we teaching them enough about finances? I should have them write essays when we're driving to UT games...why haven't I turned every moment with them into a teachable moment??
There is no such thing as part-time parenting because you continue to be a full-time worrier.
Believe. Create. Live.
© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend
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