More Skin to Shed

Today I’m feeling more than frustrated.  I don’t think I can find the words to express how frustrating it is to have strong parental instincts when you don’t have children of your own.  As a stepmom, one of my biggest struggles is learning when to rein it in.  

Hubs and I have different parenting styles.  I’m more structured and focused down the road.  He’s flexible and in the moment.  If we had a child of our own, these differing perspectives might be extremely fruitful together: a Yin and Yang of parenthood.   However, given that Skid is not mine; I’m discovering that my ideas on parenting are often best left to myself.

Just this morning, we clashed over a common problem in our household: leaving things to the very last minute.  It doesn’t matter if it’s permission forms that need to be signed, school supplies needed for a project, or event entry fees, it more than likely comes to Hubs attention at zero hour.  Last night the problem reared its head more than once.  At 7:00 PM cups were needed for a class party the next day.  Then at 11:00 PM, permission slips AND donations were needed for a fund raiser at school. 

My mind wandered back to the last time this happened.  Skid wanted to try out for the basketball team.  Hubs was informed he’d have to fill out insurance paperwork and write out a check for physicals at 10:30 the night before they were due. I quickly scanned to papers and found out we would have to purchase an insurance policy and dig out immunization records to complete everything. We didn’t have the name of who to write a check to and neither of us had cash to cover the fee.  Needless to say, we were left scrambling to get it done.  Hubs was understandably upset.

At the time I was reading “How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk,” by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish, and shared their approach with Hubs on the best way to structure his conversation with Skid about the incident.  It went something like this:

State your feelings:

 I’m disappointed.  I had asked you several times to this week to get me the basketball and physical information.

 Skid:  But I forgot…

 I see.  You forgot.  The problem is it takes time to get this information together.  We had to dig up your immunization files and other information. Both of us are pretty pressed for time in the morning, so getting so short a notice for this kind of stuff is very stressful.  How would you feel if you teacher assigned you a book report and told you it was due in 10 minutes? 

  State you expectations.

 That’s why I expect you to give me any paperwork, games schedules, etc. the same day you receive them from school.

   Show how to make amends:

 If you make the team… and I’m pretty sure you have a good shot, I’ll need some kind of an action plan from you on how you’re going to avoid things like this in the future.

 Offer a choice:

 As I see it you have two choices, sit down write out a plan by yourself when you get home from school tomorrow.  Or sit down with me tonight to brainstorm ideas for making sure things are given to us on time.

 Hubs liked this and read the book, but as I’m not positive this conversation or anything similar to it ever happened.   And with last night’s repeat performance, I’m guessing it did not.  Although things like this are not the end of World, I can’t help but wonder if continuing to enable this behavior will have negative consequences for both Skid and Hubs.  I brought that up to Hubs this morning, hence the fight.

It may not be my place, but I can say that I have nothing but Skid’s very best interests at heart.  When I have seen things that might cause issues down the line; I’ve spoken to Hubs about it.  The problem is Hubs often construes it as an attack on both him and Skid.  We fight.  We both feel slighted. It only makes me appear shrewish to Skid.  It turns into a lose/lose situation.  

 If things were different, I know that I’d make a great mom, but this isn’t my rodeo.  After years of what he admits where more permissive parenting, Hub’s is trying to find his way through parenting minefields, but this is his challenge.  It is not mine.  

I need to learn to step back in these everyday matters, and let Hubs find his way.  I need to let him fail in the same way he needs to let Skid fail once in awhile.  It’s part of learning.  

 This realization saddens me a little. Not because I’m some evil stepmom who wants to micromanage my family, but because my parenting/discipline style is just another layer of my hopes and expectations of motherhood – a layer that needs to be shed in order for me to grow.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. l00zrr
    May 08, 2012 @ 14:06:20

    How about some marriage therapy? I believe everyone needs a little therapy every now and then – not when it is almost too late. If he construes it as an attack, almost always, he needs to make an effort to change his thinking. Instead of “she’s attacking me and skid”, changing the thought to “she’s advising me.” One thing I learned through my marriage are emotions are always faster than words and thoughts. Don’t simply react to emotions. When you feel a strong emotion rising up within you during a conversation, SLOW DOWN, and ask yourself why you feel this way, and what is the spouse’s intention. I’m sure your spouse doesn’t want you to have such a negative reaction, and therefore you can ask, how did they want me to react then?

    Side-note: My husband has a step-mom. My parents are still married. So I never had the “step” experience. Your blog has inspired me to get my stepmother-in-law something really nice this Mother’s Day (she has no kids of her own). Thank you.


    • Quasi-Momma
      May 08, 2012 @ 14:39:41

      Thank you for the comment.

      Hubs and I have and do go to counseling, as our budget permits. He is more than willing to go. I’m very lucky to have a husband that will do what it takes to make me happy, but at some extent he needs to want it for himself too. Bringing the horse to water doesn’t mean he’ll drink. Much like Skid, he comes to things on his own time, in his own way. We’re getting there. It’s a process.

      The thing I’m realizing is that I have to let go of the expectations I had of being a mom, my expectations of myself as stepmom, and the expectations I had of my relationship with Skid. They are not serving me or the ones I love. It’s just that a few of them are harder and a little more painful to let go of than others.

      I think getting something for your husband’s stepmom is a great idea! I’m sure that would mean a lot to her. Good thinking!

      Thanks again!


  2. Trackback: Shedding My Skin « Life Without Baby

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