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On Being a Stepmom and Expecting Great Things.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Being a Stepmom and Expecting Great Things.

T & M return tomorrow morning from a week at their moms. It's amazing on this week on, week off schedule the range of emotions.

It's Tuesday and we're counting down around here for their return, H is asking each morning, is today the day T and M come home?

This week kicks off the official start of the holidays and with that in many family situations like ours comes a lot of stress, chaos and conflict.

I'm seeing all sorts of articles and tweets on beating holiday stress as a blended family, lowering expectations continues to be one I've seen in passing and one that bugs me the most.

Low expectations doesn't exist in my holiday vocabulary and some would say that I'm just setting myself up for disappointment.

I'm all about being authentic and real and listened to a speaker on blended families do just that a few weeks back. She was soft spoken and open about her blended family life not being sunshine and roses and that's all good, authentic stuff but it was also kind of a downer.

I'm of the belief that I want to expect great things.

No one tells you when you have a baby to have "low expectations", why do they tell you this as a stepmom?

It's not hard to understand why so many have so many negative thoughts and connotations about blended families and stepparenting when they are told repeatedly to have "low expectations."

So here's my deal, I've got high expectations. Every single year. And not just about the holidays. I've got expectations about birthdays and school conferences and events and activities and relationships. I would way rather go through this world with an occasional disappointment or two than have depressingly low expectations and be more surprised when things go right. {And hey, disappointment is a part of life too.}

So this is how we {our blended family} expect great things at the holidays:

1. Communicate. We already have a schedule set up of how the holidays work between both homes that was established way back when but months back we all sat down with calendars {via email!} and figured out Christmas break and weekends to make sure that T and M get to celebrate with everyone and also manage some down time.

Another example, just a couple weeks ago T & M's mom sent me a note knowing E's birthday is coming up wanting to make sure she didn't plan her annual cookie bake the day we might celebrate. It takes just a couple minutes to check in with each other and eliminates the possible confusion or overlap.

2. Accomodate. Just because every year on a certain date you like to do XYZ doesn't mean you can't adjust or change around to accomodate something just as beneficial or maybe meaningful for the other family. Change is good, right?

3. Reach out. I can only speak of my own blended family experience but I know that when I've had ugly, icky feelings {and I've had them, for sure!} one of the things that has helped me move forward and move on is reaching out. Maybe that's dropping off a plate of the Christmas cookies and fudge M & I made to her mom or maybe that's sending Christmas cards to the ex-inlaws. Do something to reach out and extend an olive branch to the mom in your stepkids life or the stepmom in your kids life.

4. Expect great things. Go into the holiday season with great expectations. Memories will be made regardless. Make your own traditions. Realize they will ebb and flow each year. But keep a positive attitude.

I've got a book giveaway going on over here this week. It's a children's book good for stepmoms/blended families.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is great advice, and very refreshing. Thank you for your optimism!

November 22, 2011 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Heather H said...

Great post. You have the key to setting expectations successfuly - You have great expectations with a plan!

When we set expectations up about anything in our life and don't have a plan about it that is when we set ourselves up for disappointment. Communication, setting boundaries, and understanding the motives behind what we do as we set our great expectations is vital to success which is what you are doing. I think the danger with setting expectations in stepfamilies is when there isn't a plan just wishful thinking. Working with the schedule and understanding the personal dynamics of your own stepfamily allows one to set expectations realistically.

Everyone wants a great family and I don't believe that when stepfamily experts talk about expectations they mean not to have high ones but rather to be realistic about expectations and go in with a game plan.

Thanks for sharing. You are articulated so well the successful merging of setting expectations and managing them with tools so that they don't manage you!

Thanks for sharing. Heather

November 23, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Do you know how insightful you sound? If only more people would think like you. If only more people had a generous heart like you. That positive tone is infectious to people around you. Way to go Samara!

November 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger The Elliott Family said...

I love reading your thoughtful insights on so many things! This is something I struggle with, and it is so nice to know that I am not alone! Thanks for making my days brighter through out the whole year!

December 31, 2011 at 2:00 PM  

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