One night last summer, we were sitting down eating dinner as a family around the dinner table.
I had made some sort of chicken, a vegetable, and baked potatoes.
(obviously the baked potato is the only thing of relevance… lol)
So, we are eating and talking and laughing and enjoying each others company.
My sweet little Noah finished his food and asks for another baked potato.
I haven’t gotten the knack for cooking for families yet. I still pretty much cook what I think everyone will eat. Trying to make as little waste as possible. In my attempt to be mindful of waste, I typically do not cook enough for leftovers or seconds. Like I said, I am still getting used to cooking for more than just me and Dan.
That being said, there were no “extra” baked potatoes.
I decide to just pop a small potato in the microwave for a few minutes.
Everyone else is done eating. I’m washing dishes. Farrah is playing. Dan is doing whatever. Noah is patiently waiting for his potato.
I look over and the microwave is smoking.
I quickly open the microwave, and this potato is on fire!
LITERALLY ON FIRE!
I am not kidding you right now. I literally caught this potato on fire.
Not my finest culinary moment.
The smoke alarm starts going off as smoke wafts from the microwave.
The dog starts barking. Farrah starts screaming. Dan comes running and frantically asking what happened. Noah is obviously concerned about his potato. And after throwing the potato in the sink and running water over the burnt, shriveled remains, I quickly dart outside.
I cannot contain my tears.
I was immediately overcome with a sense of failure and incompetency.
I had completely and utterly failed as a caretaker for my family.
It was a simple baked potato, and I could have seriously injured everyone.
I put everyone in danger.
I couldn’t even feed my family properly.
I shouldn’t be able to be in charge of other people if I can’t even handle myself (or specifically a potato).
All of my insecurities as a stepmom had been reaffirmed by that damn baked potato.
I just knew that this was it.
Dan was going to tell me I wasn’t capable of being a motherly figure in our blended family. Farrah was going to tell me how scared she was for her safety. Noah was going to tell me that he was hungry, and that I couldn’t even provide for his basic necessities.
I had completely failed, and they all knew it.
You know what?
It didn’t go down like that at all.
You may have guessed, but my sweet family reacted the complete opposite of that.
Dan took care of the mess and the dishes while letting me have my breather outside.
Farrah came to check on me and rested her sweet little head on my shoulder.
And my precious Noah made sure to tell me that he was okay that I burnt his potato. He assured me he could eat a string cheese or some gummies and be just fine.
My whole family just wanted to make sure that I was okay,
They weren’t worried about this burnt baked potato making me an incompetent maternal figure. They were worried about my emotional wellbeing. They all just wanted me to stop being upset.
I tell you that because maybe I wouldn’t have reacted so strongly if I was in a better place emotionally.
Maybe I would have taken the burnt baked potato in stride.
Maybe I would have not burned the potato at all.
Maybe all I needed was to stop feeling the pressure of being “on” all the time, I would have been able to pay attention to little things. (such as not putting cheap tupperware in the microwave for 7 minutes….)
My family doesn’t need me to be Wonder Woman.
They don’t need me to be able to do everything all at once.
They don’t need me to prove myself or my worth.
They need me to make sure that I am loving them with my whole heart. That I am teaching them little life lessons. That I am having fun and being happy.
That I am doing my best not to burn down the kitchen.
They need me to be there for them.
They don’t need me to be stressed.
My insecurities about being a stepmom are just that, mine.
My family doesn’t question my worth or my capability.
My family doesn’t expect me to prove myself day in and day out.
Sometimes I feel like I have to do all of these things to prove my worth as a maternal role in my own family.
Since I didn’t physically bear these children, I must prove myself worthy to hold a maternal role in their lives.
I must do all the things that are expected of bio moms (which is a heck of a lot) and do it perfectly.
I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself to show everyone that I am deserving of my stepmom title.
I make homemade gummies. I research the best children’s books. I have hair bows in every color. I get toys about learning. I plan outdoor adventures. I buy all natural body wash. I enroll them in sports.
And these are all good things. These are all great things. And I enjoy doing them.
But when I stop making it about the kids well-being and start making it about me proving myself as a worthy step-parent is when it turns bad.
Not that I can even differentiate when that turn happens, other than it stops being enjoyable and starts becoming anxiety inducing.
I have to tell myself to take a step back and stop trying to prove myself.
When I wonder if I’m qualified to be a maternal figure in the kids lives, or when I question the dynamics of my role in my own household, or when I feel taken back by a comment from someone at the grocery store, or when I feel incompetent and insecure my family isn’t concerned with these questions.
I may be overflowing with anxiety over my latest stepmom saga while my family is just happy to have me.
They don’t question my role. They don’t wonder if I’m good enough. They don’t worry about all of this silly stuff.
They are happy to have me.
They love me.
They love our family.
They think that I am perfectly capable and competent in my maternal role in our blended family.
They have all the faith in me that I wish I had in myself sometimes.
So, stepmama, when you are feeling insecure and questioning your role in your blended family just think of it from your families perspective. Remind yourself that your stepmom dramas (no matter how big they may seem at the moment) do not define you or your role in your family. Someone’s hateful comment hurt your feelings, your dinner didn’t turn out great, you were late to dance practice, you didn’t switch the laundry over before the mildew set in, or you literally caught a baked potato on fire. All in all, it’s not that bad. Those moments don’t define you. Those moments don’t make you any less of a wonderful stepmom. You are an amazing attribute to your blended family. They all appreciate and love you for the important role you play in your family, and you do a darn good job! Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Love you family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.