Encouraging Stepmoms

Did you know that today is National Day of Encouragement?  I didn’t, until I read this post from Heather at Cafe Smom.  Heather suggested that, since stepmoms need a lot of encouragement, she and her readers should pledge to encourage these women in particular today.

So, I took the pledge.  Stepmoms, the following is for you…

When I was in middle school, we once had an assembly where a man held up a $20 bill.

“What’s this worth?” he asked.

The audience replied with the obvious answer.

“And what if I crumble it up like this?” he asked as he turned the crisp bill into something fit to smack with a bat.

No change in the response.

“But what if I do this?” the man asked.  He uncrumpled the bill until it was flat again, then let it drop to the ground and stomped on it.  “Now how much is it worth?”

“Twenty dollars,” we told him.

The man feigned confusion.  “OK,” he began. “What if I roll it around in the dirt?  Or drive over it with my car?  What if I bury it in a box?  Or throw it in the ocean?  Then what is it worth?”

“Twenty dollars,” we said again.

“That’s right!” he finally told us.  “It doesn’t matter what I do to this money.  As long as it exists, it has value.  And it’s no different for any of you out there.  Each one of you is valuable, regardless of how someone else might treat you.”

Stepmoms often feel as if they’re being thrown under the bus or drug through the mud.  They are the outsiders, the scapegoats and the entity unto which many others release their negativity.  They feel alone, misunderstood, depressed, frustrated and at times, unworthy.

But they are not without worth.  Stepmoms are, as Heather says, “the heart of the blended family”.  It is through their tireless efforts that the family unit is nourished.  Whether she cooks, cleans, bandages boo-boos, listens lovingly… even when she challenges the status quo (as many often do), her family learns and grows because of her.

Stepmoms, never doubt your value as a person and the blessings you bring to your family!

Bonus Activity (Personal Story):  One night I was feeling particularly outsider-ish and useless, so I decided to conduct a little experiment.  I took out a package of bright orange Post-It Notes and I stuck them on anything that represented my contribution to the family.  I stuck them on  food items, DVDs, board games, bed linens, shoes, clothes, furniture, pictures, our family rules, artwork the kids hung with my help, toothbrushes, coloring books and many, many more items. When I was done, I was out of Post-Its and I couldn’t walk into a single room that wasn’t dotted with orange squares.  Given the color of the paper, it was impossible to miss the markers I’d placed.  Indeed, there was no overlooking my efforts.  And while the obnoxious orange paper might have been a nuisance to anyone else, to me it brought validation and peace-of-mind.

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5 comments on “Encouraging Stepmoms

  1. I love your activity with orange post-it notes. What a great way to affirm the role we play as stepparents!

  2. heidibird says:

    Thanks for sharing! I actually did find this encouraging. I am not quite a step mom but consider myself in a similar situation with my boyfriends children. It is good to know that others share some of the same feelings and experiences as myself.

  3. Heather H says:

    Tara, you rock! Thanks for taking the pledge and for sharing the two great stories. You have amazing insight and you offer encouragement and great info to all. Honored to call you friend.

    I think we should all do the post it note experiment. I think the visual would be a shocking reminder to ourself and to our entire family of all that we do. Thanks for sharing. – Heather

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