I wrote the following some years ago after I'd had a nasty fall at a supermaket. As it's a rather lengthy article, I decided to offer it to you in a series format. So please be sure to come back to read the rest. ENJOY!!
So, now I'm typing this with one hand (an interesting and somewhat frustrating exercise) - sitting propped up in my bed - left elbow encased in a rather massive plaster cast - more or less comfortably resting on a cushion; blessing my good fortune to be in the possession of a laptop that has been a rather recent addition; hoping that my one-handed typing speed will increase rapidly so that I’ll at least be able make myself a little useful. As I found myself struggling like crazy with my new typing mode, it suddenly occurred to me that my unfortunate experience had rather a lot in common with some of the experiences we encounter on our stepfamily journey. So, quick as a flash, I decided to share my thoughts with you. Now, don’t laugh or think that I broke my head as well as my elbow, – there really are lots of similarities! Read on and you’ll see:
Most of us travel merrily through life, filled with ideas, hopes and dreams of how we would like our future to be. At some point we finally come across the prince of our dreams - the one who makes our heart beat faster; our knees go weak; stars appear in our eyes. If cupid’s arrow has truly struck, what do we do??? – We fall head over heels, crash bang, full force for that person. All previous ideas, thoughts and considerations of what he should be like simply fly out of our head and all we are capable of thinking at that point is “HE IS THE ONE FOR ME”. Once having exchanged wedding vows, however, we quickly discover the realities of stepfamily life. The fact that he comes as a 'package deal' hadn'’t been a secret, but in our starry-eyed state we didn'’t consider this to be a problem. Not even the existence of an ‘ex’ lurking somewhere in the background deterred us from our course of action. We knew (beyond any doubt) that we are much better, nicer, more attractive, far more sensible, more mature, less hateful, spiteful and vindictive than the ‘ex’ and that all our partner REALLY needs for a happy and fulfilled life is ME. True????
sure....UNTIL REALITY BITES
His kids visit too often or not often enough. They don’t like you, criticize you, tell you in no uncertain terms that you have absolutely NO business telling THEM what do, because, after all, you are not their mother. Or they like you so much that you’'ve just made the ‘most wanted list’ on the ‘ex's’ agenda and before you can say “golly gosh, how did this happen?” you find yourself embroiled in a battle that seems to have come out of nowhere. When you complain about it to your 'chosen one', hoping for some sympathy or back-up, he says: 'I told what she is like. Now you get to see for yourself!'” Your parents tell you not to worry, love will overcome all obstacles. Your friends tell you that they would never have married someone with kids and other wellmeaners tell you that you should have thought about it before you tied the knot. And voila, here you are in non-anticipated but, all the same, substantial pain.
You can use this simple scenario or any other that you can personally relate to. Unless you are one of the super-lucky people who have no idea what I am talking about - and I don’t actually believe that those exist - you will benefit from the following points that I discovered to be as useful in dealing with a broken elbow as they are in dealing with painful step-situations:
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – When I slipped, fell and hurt myself it certainly wasn'’t something I’'d expected would ever happen to me.
When you live in a stepfamily it is useful to expect the unexpected. For instance:
* One moment you barely know that you even have stepchildren (because the ‘nasty ex’ won’t let them visit), the next moment they land on your doorstep, suitcase in hand saying: “'Mum suggested that I should move in with you for a year or two – you don’t mind, do you?!'
* One moment your step kids seem to think you are super-cool and two months later, after a few unpleasant incidents, run-ins and disagreements they only ever refer to you as the 'Wicked Witch'.
* One moment you are planning for Christmas with all the troops, next thing you know the ’ex’ has spirited your step-kids away with promises of Christmas in the snow...at the beach...on the moon -
you know what I mean!!
Let me assure you, stepfamily life will bring a lot less unpleasant surprises if you expect the unexpected.
Stay tuned for the next installment.....