“I want my spouse…but not my stepkids.”
My client told me this the other day as tears welled up in her eyes.
It made her feel so conflicted – to be living a life she only half wanted.
And I asked her: What would it take to make you want all of it?
She paused for a moment and said: “Well, maybe if his kids acted like they loved me more, or if they cared about me and their dad equally…then, I would want them here.”
This is where you’re wrong, I told her gently.
Our stepkids can’t make us feel better, regardless of how they act or what they say.
Only we can do that.
And it starts with the things we tell ourselves.
When we think: “I don’t want these kids in my life” – it feels miserable. And we act miserable. We avoid our stepkids, or snap at them. We don’t give ourselves the chance to ever truly enjoy them, or want them in our lives.
But what if it were possible, just for a moment, to imagine wanting these humans in our lives.
What if, regardless of their behavior, we wanted them? Just as much as we wanted our spouses.
We already kind of want them in our lives.
Want to know how I know this?
Because they’re already here.
We’ve already chosen them.
And no doubt about it – raising kids is hard work.
But there’s a part of us that wants to do it, wants to love them hard, wants to go all in.
And I offered this to my client the other day – why not just decide you want them? why not just love them?
Either way, we’re going to get hurt. Either way, being a stepmom is going to be hard. Just like being a parent is hard.
But deciding we want them and that we’ve chosen them feels so much better than deciding the opposite.
And we suffer less.I