A few days ago, I found myself in a situation where I was really negative, especially when I was thinking about my co-parents and our situation. I was frustrated about the invisible stepmom load and the double standard of mom and stepmom. I was just in a straight-up, undeniable funk.
But I had to stop, take a breath, and realize I was having high-conflict thoughts.
At the end of the day, it is not about me. It is about my stepdaughter, and my thoughts weren’t making anything better.
In fact, the situation that had triggered these thoughts reminded me of a post I saw in our stepmom community a few months back. The stepmom had done all of the birthday party planning for years, including baking the birthday cake. This year, mom decided she wanted to bake the cake and told stepmom she could bake a smaller cake as well but said she really wanted to provide the larger cake. In response, stepmom was offended. This had been her role, and now mom was walking in and saying she couldn’t have it anymore simply because she’s mom and she can say when and if that role ends for stepmom.
I reminded the stepmom that she had gotten the opportunity to bake several cakes before and that this single cake did not define her value.
It’s about perspective, right? Think through all of the years you’ve been able to bake the cake, and be thankful for all of those opportunities to show your stepchildren how much you love them.
But… it’s also about the precarious nature of this stepmom role.
As soon as the mom decides she wants to start doing something the stepmom has historically done, the stepmom steps back and lets mom handle it all. At any given moment, our roles can change because our stepchildren’s mother wants to change the role she plays (to be more or less involved).
It’s natural that at this point you have high-conflict thoughts because your life is changing and it’s out of your control, and it’s perfectly okay to feel some of those emotions, but it’s NOT okay to stay there.
6 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Have High-Conflict Thoughts
Can I change the situation?
Is there anything you can do to change the situation? Think creatively and see if there’s a solution to the problem at hand that’s causing you to think high-conflict. Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Can I change my attitude about the situation?
So, can you change your attitude? I challenge you to find something positive about the situation. I guarantee you there’s at least one! In the example I shared, the mom is getting more involved, and that’s not a bad thing!
Is this good for my stepchild?
If you take a step back and take a breath, can you see the bigger picture? Is it possible this is a good move for your stepchild?
Would I rather be right or happy?
This is a big one for us stepmoms. Would you rather be right or happy? You can’t have both. If you insist on being right, you’re eliminating your chance at happiness.
Will this matter in 5 years?
The 5 x 5 rule (author unknown) states that if this won’t matter in 5 years, you shouldn’t send more than 5 minutes worrying about it! There’s a good chance that what you’re worrying about won’t even matter in 5 months – let alone 5 years! Try your best to let it go.
Will this define my value?
Are you going to let a 10th birthday cake define your value as a stepmom? Or are you going to recognize this single event for what it is and move forward as the confident, loving stepmom you’ve always been?
It’s tough, I get it. But so are you.
PS: Make sure you’re really practicing introspection and seeing if it’s possible you’re contributing to the conflict. Are you a high-conflict stepmom?!