I’m an occasional overthinker and it’s impossible not to fall into the trap of otherthinking as a stepmom. Nothing is as simple as it is in a first family. Everything is connected and has a past. Kids reference memories as “before the divorce” and sometimes hearing your partner’s text tone go off (Is it the ex? What does she want now?) has all the inertia to propel a stepmom full-speed into overthinking everything.
I’ve known my boyfriend, Levi, since we were kindergartners and when we went on our first date over a year ago, everything magically fell into place. I also took to being a stepmom to his 12-year-old son without any real issues. We all just clicked as family.
For the weekends we have Levi’s younger two children (a 10-year-old daughter he’s raised since birth and his 8-year-old son), we don’t miss a beat. The more, the merrier! With all of us and our three happy dogs, it’s a legit party.
The earnest hard work I put in for my family is always worth it. I revel in preparing delicious meals that kids actually like (thanks, Pinterest), laughing until it hurts while we make memories (DIY charades in a hotel room at the coast), going for a brisk mile run with my oldest stepson, and singing Kacey Musgrave’s “Rainbow” with my stepdaughter until I get teary-eyed. Or when my youngest stepson always wants the biggest bear hugs from me. These are just a few things I love about this life.
My stepmama heart overflows and I know I’m finally where I’m supposed to be. My boyfriend is genuinely the best person I know and he is all I ever wanted and more.
How did I get so lucky?
Everything is going perfectly…until the past comes calling. Literally.
Examples: Levi gets a text or call about something regarding the younger two kids or my oldest stepson’s mom on the East Coast texts way past bedtime to see if her firstborn son is awake to chat. Or I’m accused of forgetting an important shirt that honestly shouldn’t have come to our house in the first place (I did ask my stepdaughter for it three times to wash and dry before sending back, but I digress)…
The list goes on.
Beware of Toxic Overthinking
Most of the time, it’s necessary and harmless communication solely about the kids. Sometimes, though, it can be downright disrupting and stressful.
My happy little life is suddenly tainted by the past and I’m left feeling like an outsider and a fraud, topped with a healthy serving of self-pity.
The Toxic Overthinking Trap
Here are just a few examples of what I’ve thought and felt at the hands of toxic overthinking:
- What did he ever see in his ex-wife? Was he blind the entire relationship or just when he signed the marriage certificate?
- How does he know for sure that he even loves me? There’s no way he loves me when I’m miserable like this. Why would he want to risk his heart again? I’m not worth the headache, I’m sure…
- When we have a baby, I’m afraid he or she won’t be loved as much. He says he wants a baby with me, but does he mean it or is he trying to make me feel better?
- What do I even know about raising kids? (I babysat for over a decade, am a natural with children and have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, but whatever…).
- Why does the custody schedule get to dictate our life….my life? What if I don’t like having to wait a month for our “free” weekend?
- Why on Earth does child support have to be SO much? I rarely spend that kind of money on myself, seriously (Is it wrong to think receipts should be mandatory or that the money just automatically go into an account for the child?).
- What am I even doing here???
The last one is dangerous territory. I don’t plan on going anywhere, but it is the cherry on top of the pity party and feels awful. It doesn’t do anyone any good whatsoever.
Your partner is now stressed out trying to help you out of this funk and kids can tell that something isn’t right with you. The pets are now glued to your side because they definitely know you’re on the edge of diving head first into a pint of ice cream.
0/10 do not recommend.
The good news? With time, you’ll understand your place in this complicated stepmom life more and your feathers won’t get ruffled as easily.
It does take mental dedication to identify what and why something triggers you and how to better cope the next time it happens. Sometimes it is easier said than done (this article is as much for you as it is a reminder for myself), but it is achievable!
Learning to Cope with Stress
In order for me to cope, I remind myself that I’m one heck of a great stepmom, the kids love me and I love them, my boyfriend is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I want them all in my life for the long haul.
The ex-wife or any part of the past really has no control over my life or my happiness unless I allow it. Protecting your happiness, recognizing what you have and honestly, taking several deep breaths does wonders.
Throwing in some self-care (wine, a luxurious soak, a good book, finding more kid-friendly recipes on Pinterest, etc.) definitely goes a long way, too!
P.S. If you find you can’t stop overthinking, it may be time to talk with someone else who gets it, who understands how stressful and complex stepmom life can be. Apply now to learn more about how stepmom support coaching works and if it’s a good fit for you!