Stepmom Stepback last February was going to ignite such a response.
Some women have loved it and told me that it helped set into motion their own step back for which they feel more at peace in their homes.
There have been other women that don't agree with the philosophy and have voiced concerns about my attitude toward my husband, my stepchildren and my family.
I try not to take those concerns too personally. I own my feelings and thoughts and take full responsibility for them. If someone wants to disagree with what has worked for me -- and countless other women -- then I will chalk that up to their issue and not mine.
My attitude toward my husband and stepkids is what has helped me sustain my step back even now, 13 months after that first post.
Over the past year, I've figured out how to compartmentalize the pieces of my life especially as they pertain to my stepfamily. Speaking with Susan Wisdom on The Stepmom's Toolbox Radio Show last April helped me with the idea that creating a 'bubble' for myself; one for my husband and I, etc. helps to seal out the unwanted drama I desperately want to purge from my life.
And so, a year later, that's what I've done. I've compartmentalized. I've set boundaries. I've created an imaginary velvet rope that keeps the unwanted things out while letting the things I want in.
How I've done is still a bit of a mystery even to me. On some level, I think the stepping back from last year helped me to realize that each person in my stepfamily is their own individual 'island.' We each coexist and intersect on different levels, but when it comes down to it, we all have individual goals, ideas, wants, needs, etc. Recognizing that has helped with the compartmentalization.
Another thing that has helped is realizing I can only be or do so much for the people in my stepfamily. I can wipe away tears or write an emergency check, but I can't -- or more specifically, I won't -- clean up their life for them.
One of the hardest areas I still have difficulty with is my husband's travel and living close to the kids. I genuinely like my stepkids. Despite any problems we've had in the past, they're really good kids that I get along with fairly well. My fuzzy gray line rears its head when my husband is gone for weeks at a time and both they and I miss him.
On one level, we have the 'missing' part in common. We didn't chose to have a husband/dad that traveled a lot. It just happened to us. I feel compelled to swoop in like the second coming of Dad and remind them -- and me -- that he still loves us, he just does it from far away.
On the other hand, I recognize that we all need to deal with this in our own way. I miss my husband; they miss their dad. The kids didn't marry their Dad, I did. I said 'yes' to a man that several years later opted for a 100% travel gig. If I decide I can't handle the nomadic husband I can get out of it; they can't. This brings me back to my island theory; we're all our own island.
So the Stepback story continues. In the year since my step-back, I've never felt more at peace with my role as a stepmom. I recognize parts of me that still need work, but I'm not so enmeshed in everyone's life that I forget where they stop and I start.
If you've had a successful step back I'd love to hear about it. Shoot me an email, leave a comment and for goodness sakes -- help me come up with a really good Stepmom Stepback dance!