For my 30th birthday I received my first ever gift from my, at the time, new boyfriend. We had just started seeing each other and I couldn’t wait to open his gift. I was convinced this gift would give me a clue as to where we stood and, just maybe, where we were going.
As an aside, I have recently dubbed myself as “The Anxious Stepmom” so none of this “applying far too much meaning to a gesture” should surprise anyone. I digress.
After the party ended, I excitedly/anxiously looked for the gift in question. Opened the card…so sweet. Opened the first gift, a “Love Lives Here” sign (I had just moved into a new house) – how thoughtful!
I opened the last gift…it’s…a…coffee mug. I mean, I like coffee. So, that’s….nice of him. Okay, there’s a message on the front……wait for it….“Love is patient.”
The Best (and Most Annoying) Stepmom Advice I Ever Received
I mentioned the anxiety thing, right? In my experience, I have found that anxiety can be a huge roadblock to a life of joy and fulfillment as a stepmom.
You know what 2 words anxious people hate? Be patient.
In fact, I couldn’t have imagined two words that would have deflated me faster in that specific scenario. Anxiety was quick to mock me for my short-lived excitement and tried its best to confirm my feelings of “not-good-enough-ness”.
I’m so glad I didn’t listen. Little did I know, without patience, I would miss out on everything I would experience over the next two and a half years. The challenging things, the painful things, and the most beautiful things.
The anticipation, the communication, the trial and error. All of this required deep, thoughtful, intentional patience.
Eat All the Cookies
As my now-husband says, I’m an “eat all the cookies right now” type of gal. That’s both a metaphorical and very literal analysis.
If I ever stop working long enough to actually complete a task like baking, you can be sure I’m going to maximize my return as quickly as possible. What if I forget and the cookies go stale? I can’t risk that! Again, I digress.
This particular quality has been awesome in that it has led me to succeed in growing my business, uninhibited stage presence as a performer and public speaker, and strength in my relationships with family and friends.
It’s not great, however, for starting a romantic relationship with a divorced and very involved dad. Everything in that relationship is delicate and deliberate and takes time. From the first meeting, to the first soccer game to the first holiday… everything was methodically planned and scheduled. My expert-level improvisational skills need not apply.
It’s Like Playing the Piano
As a musician, I can relate patience to an instrument.
Let’s take the piano for example. I’m really quite terrible at the piano, or at least I’m not where I should be after 10+ years of lessons. You know why? Say it with me, mamas: because I didn’t practice!
This is how patience was for me, I wasn’t practicing. I was saying “I deserve this now!” and “I’m ready to be happy now!”. It’s the same as if I wanted to play Rachmaninoff’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” on the piano right now! Trust me. It ain’t happening.
Here are three things I tell myself every day to practice patience:
1. I can only control myself and my reactions.
2. My role in my family is a supportive role. Love and support are all that is required of me here.
3. This too shall pass.
While I still require some gentle and not-so-gentle reminders to remain patient, I am so grateful for my husband’s birthday gift all those years ago.
His forethought and careful dedication to his children allowed us a fair chance at a future together as a family.
Some things take time. Some things are too precious and too delicate to rush.
So unfortunately, I have to admit, love is indeed patient, and it’s also worth the wait.
P.S. Speaking of advice, here’s the best stepmom advice you’re probably not taking…