I pray that this post doesn’t put a damper on anyone’s holiday, because it’s not the usual upbeat, Christmas cheer post. This week, I’ve decided to discuss a bit of a off beat topic, about being a step-parent for the holidays. Where the holidays are full of tinsel, trees, ribbons, bells, presents and bows, as a stepparent they can also be full of uncertainty, depression, and stress. Creating and keeping Christmas cheer is not always the easiest task when you are a stepparent; especially a stepmom. I’ve put together some common issues that I have encountered as a Stepmom around the holidays.
As a stepmom, one of the most difficult things that I face around the Christmas holiday is the expectation to preform. Everyone expects you to be cheerful, accommodating, helpful, and nearly perfect during the holidays. You are often not entitled to your own feelings. You have to decorate homes, put up trees, and host dinners all with a smile. While dealing with all the things that may have occurred throughout the year. During the holidays, EVERYONE wants to see you have perfect holiday cheer! This can be an easy way to start feeling a little depressed and to become exhausted quickly.
Another, stressful issue that many stepmoms face is the gift dilemma. I am known to be a BIG gift giver. I absolutely love to give gifts and I typically will go above and beyond, however, I’ve never (prior to marriage) had to buy gifts for someone that doesn’t always treat me the best, or rarely wants to speak to me. For years, I’ve been creating great Christmases (toys, clothes, books, etc) just to receive a quick “thank you,” and only to return back to the regular nonchalant borderline disrespectful treatment. This Christmas, I have decided to gift accordingly. After all, I am an additional parent, my gifts are pretty much extra. After, about 5 years; I now have accepted that its unacceptable to expect me to spend my hard earned money, but not be treated well on other days. It sucks to have to feel that way, but at some point, every Stepmom has to put her foot down and it may have to start with the wallet on holidays.
Something else that I’ve learned to live with around the holidays, is that it’s not always all love! While Daddy gets gifts from the kids, pictures drawn, big thank yous, and tons of other acknowledgements; stepmoms sometimes just get left on the back burner with awkward side hugs and forced acknowledgment. You’re not the first one or sometimes, even the one at all to get called over to see the cool new toy. You watch Christmas sort of just happen without you. No matter how tough you are, emotionally it stings a little. You often end up feeling like the unwanted third wheel in your own home on Christmas.
I just picked out a few issues that tend to arise around the Holidays for Stepmoms. My advice for dealing with them is…. Wine, lots of wine! LOL. Seriously, my advice is to be sure to take some time out for yourself and remember that you don’t have to be a people pleaser. Where Christmas is a be deal for the kids, it should also be memorable and enjoyable for you as well. If the family gets to being to much: step into another space, put your feet up, tone them out for a little, and take a minute for yourself. Handling the presents….. don’t beat yourself up about making a choice to stand your ground. Also, buy yourself something nice for Christmas!!! Trust me Stepmoms, you have earned it!! Last, but not least, when dealing with the lack of love and acknowledgment, be sure to include some of your family in the mix as well to offer a balance. If you have biological children, remember to share your joys with them as much as possible. And, at the end of the night, be sure to cuddled up with the hubby for a little extra time. We can not always change the behavior of children, but our husbands should be our safe places. Don’t spend the night hashing it all out, but just take some time to receive some extra attention from the head member of the group.
StepMoms, remember that you mean just as much to the family as anyone else. You probably work harder in the family than anyone else, and you therefore deserve just as much as everyone else. This holiday, be cheerful for you, while you’re considering everyone else!
Kristina – The Stepmom