Developing an Attitude of Stepmom Gratitude
We’re all familiar with the difficulties that sometimes come along with our everyday lives as stepmoms – even something simple like a parent/teacher conference can end up bringing up confusion and heartache.
As a stepmom myself, I often deal with those painful feelings of loss, and what helps me to break through that and get myself in a better mental state is to focus on the immense gratitude I feel for my life and family. You see, my husband is an absolutely amazing man who loves his daughter and his wife (that’s me!) fiercely and openly. I simply couldn’t ask for a better husband, I really couldn’t. And my stepdaughter? She is an absolute gem of a human being. She’s a teenager now and, although of course that comes with its unique set of challenges and hardships, we generally get along quite well and have a solid, fun relationship.
I realize, honestly, that I am one of the lucky ones. Our little family unit of three gets along, loves each other, and generally has a good rapport. I know that not everyone has that and this fact, in itself, makes me incredibly grateful.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we are completely without struggles. My relationship with my stepdaughter’s mom is nowhere near where I’d like it to be, and that’s an issue that plagues me often. I still find myself as the “third wheel” of the family at times. Or feeling inadequate, or hurt, or jealous. And when I find myself feeling that way, I try my best to turn to the practice of gratitude.
Consistent, intentional gratitude has been an absolute game-changer for me along my stepmotherhood journey and I’d like to share a few steps I’ve taken along the way to keep up this practice and keep myself and my family in a happier, healthier place.
Let Yourself Mourn
It is likely that being a stepmom was not one of your life aspirations growing up. And therefore, by being a part of your new family, you’re giving up on some of those dreams. You are. And it’s okay to have feelings about that. It’s okay to mourn that loss.
Jumping right into gratitude practices without truly acknowledging and handling your mourning can put you in a worse position than before. Take the time you need – with a counselor, if you’re able – to really process and begin to accept what you may feel you’ve lost by entering into this new family. Accepting these feelings doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a healthy person!
Once you’ve begun to process the ways that your life might not end up following the path you’d originally intended, you can truly begin to add some intentional gratitude practices to your daily life. If you’re a person who loves writing, a gratitude journal might be a great place to start! Just take a simple notebook and begin making a list of things you’re grateful for each day. Don’t limit yourself on what “counts” as something to be grateful for – if you love it, it goes on the list! My personal journal has items such as “the perfect temperature coffee” and “the smell of a fall day” in there! They don’t have to be crazy, grand, important things – anything you feel thankful for in the moment, just write it down! This is an awesome option because it helps to begin to reframe your thinking throughout your day, to focus more on the positive and less on the negative. And in time, you’ll really start to see your general perspective shift as you notice more and more things in your life that are fantastic!.
Get an Accountability Partner
If you’re finding yourself in a true season of struggle with finding gratitude, ask a close friend or family member to be an accountability partner for you. This person can text you a few times a week asking for some positives about how you’re doing! And, if you’re able, offer to be someone else’s accountability partner as well – sometimes hearing another person’s positive outlook on things can affect your own outlook for the better! This person can also check in with you about other important aspects of self-care, like rest and relaxation, which are also critically important to help put you in a more calm, thankful state of mind!
Give Yourself a Gratitude Mantra
Probably the best thing I’ve ever personally done to help myself cultivate an attitude of gratitude is that I created my own “gratitude mantra.” I’ve used mine for almost ten years at this point, and it instantly puts me in a positive place mentally. Curious about my super simple favorite mantra? It’s “#bestlife.” It’s honestly such a cute, easy little phrase but it ends up encapsulating so much in just a few words. I use it to caption photos, describe scenarios, or just generally talk about awesome stuff! An extra fun part about creating your own mantra is that if you use it enough, people in your life with begin to use it, too, and associate it with you in a really neat way! I have friends who now use “#bestlife” on their instagram photos and the like – it really lifts my spirits to know that they are also finding positivity and thankfulness in their world as well!
So much of life, in stepmotherhood and otherwise, is about the way we approach our lives and our problems and I truly believe that approaching everything with a positive, gracious, thankful spirit can make a world of difference in our homes and in our lives – and make us better stepmoms, too!