Hi friends. I’m so glad you popped in to join me today for this post. I want to talk to you about something that has been on my heart & mind for quite some time now: falling back.
When I say “falling back,” I mean falling back into old ways. You know – similar to falling back into old habits (maybe falling back into not working out, falling back into eating unhealthy, etc.) – but today I’m not going to be talking about those types of “falling backs” – instead, I’m going to talk about falling back as a stepmom.
My Stepmom Backstory
I’ve been a stepmom for almost five years now, and to say it has been a bumpy ride would be putting it very mildly. It’s been one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had in my life – for a multitude of reasons (refer to my post on For the Stubborn Stepmom if you want a backstory).
But throughout it all – one thing that I have never read from my favorite stepmom advice book, a stepmom website, or heard from my stepmom friends is that it’s okay to fall back. And guess what? It is.
An Example of What It Means to Fall Back as a Stepmom
Let me give you an example of what I mean when I say falling back as a stepmom: up until about five months ago, my husband’s ex and I were on the best terms we had ever been – we were borderline friends. We texted each other about the boys, life, and other things, we communicated about important plans and occasions, and even went as far as to joke (on occasion) about silly things my husband does. We worked hard to get to that point – very hard. My stepsons were flourishing from it, too.
You see, up until that point, she and I had been the opposite of friends pretty much since the day we got to know each other. I was not ok with her lackadaisical stance on motherhood, nor was I ok with the way she treated me (calling me names, bullying me, etc.) She did not like that I actually stood up for her children and her ex husband, and made it very well known.
A Change of Heart
But, when I had my son Harrison, in 2017, something changed. While I did not let her see my son for over a year (because I distrusted her and her intentions that much), over the course of that year, my heart softened from finally being a mother myself. And I forgave her for everything – and was able to attempt to put myself in her shoes for certain situations.
Why, Money, Why?
However, as is almost always the case, money came into the picture around the end of January of this year, and things took a turn for the worse. It was a really simple situation, but unfortunately did not play out that way: my husband and I found out that my youngest stepson had been buying lunch and snacks every day at school (despite bringing his own lunch and snacks) and had racked up a pretty hefty bill from doing so. As with most things in a 50/50 custody agreement, when we received the bill, we asked her if she would pay for half of it (since it was school expenses). She said no.
I don’t even need to get into the reasons as to why she said no, because they are all absolutely ludicrous – but she said no. The amount we were requesting, her half, was only $60. I won’t go into detail – but let’s just say that my husband’s portion of child support, alimony, and retirement pays for well over any multiple of that amount.
My Breaking Point
I’m not sure what happened within me in the moment she said “no” and had every excuse know to man as to why she refused to pay her half, but something kind of snapped. I just realized that I had had enough.
I had had enough of her taking advantage of me, my husband, and our children (including my 2 year old son). I had had enough of her acting one way in person yet doing something completely against those actions over the phone, email, or to her children. I had had enough of her wanting to be my best friend yet doing my family so wrong (in ways I can’t even begin to explain). I had had enough. Period.
So, I confronted her one day. She came to the door to pick up my youngest stepson, and I asked if I could speak with her. Although my husband had sent numerous emails and asked her in person, she had still not been willing to budge when it came to paying for half of that lunch fee and I confronted her saying, “can you please pay us that money?” – and that is where everything went the other direction.
She immediately got defensive saying it was not my place to ask for the money (which, she’s right, it wasn’t) – but I explained that this affected my son now, too, because that was $60 we could have split three ways and put in each boy’s savings account (or something similar). I also explained that it was her responsibility to cover half of the costs of any school-related expense, per court order. She did not like that at all.
She immediately went from jumping all over me about having even mentioned this to calling me a “bitc*” on my front porch in front of my house where my child lives. That will never be ok – I don’t care who you are.
I told her that when she was ready to have an adult conversation, I would be here, and as she continued to call me names, I closed the door. She was furious.
We have never been the same since then. Ever.
So, friends, this is what I mean by falling back as a stepmom – I fell back, and I fell back hard.
Why I am Okay With It
But here’s the thing: I am okay with it, believe it or not.
Yes, we had a good relationship for a while, and for that I was very thankful. But something inside me said that the way she was treating me, my husband, and my stepsons (along with my son) was not okay, and I guess the “mama bear” in me had to stand up for that.
Sure, it was only $60, but it wasn’t about the amount – it was the principle behind it (as I’m sure any other stepmom can understand.
So, here is what I learned, after months of careful reflection about this entire situation: it’s okay to fall back. It’s okay.
Four Reasons Why It’s Okay to Fall Back as a Stepmom
1. It’s Human Nature
Human nature, according to the dictionary, is “the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans.”
Isn’t this the truth? There are certain psychological characteristics about being a human, certain feelings and traits, that we just cannot deny and we cannot run away from.
It’s part of who we are as beings – animals – whatever you want to call us.
2. We Can’t Control Others
We can’t. No matter how hard we try.
But who we can control is ourselves. We will always have that – and hopefully will use that wisely.
Some may think that I should have controlled myself more that day, and not mentioned the money – but it went so far beyond the money & so much more into the person she was being (and had repeatedly been). Our conversation would have happened one way or another, no matter the topic at hand. And I have to be okay with that reality.
3. Maybe It’s There to Teach Us A Lesson
Maybe there was a higher reason as to why this all happened – who knows.
Maybe this all happened because I was meant to see that, in the end, it is okay to stand up for myself and for my family – and it will always be.
Maybe, even though I can’t see it, this affected her greatly & changed her way of thinking (one can only hope).
Whatever the “maybes,” I have to put trust in the fact that there is an upper hand to all of this, and perhaps I won’t know the reason behind it for a long time – but it is there.
4. We Just Have to Keep Trying
No matter what, we can’t let a situation like this keep us down for long – sure, we can mope over it for some time, get it out of our systems – but we have to eventually stand back up and try again.
I don’t know when I will be willing to try again with her – it may be a long time from now – and that’s okay.
But I do know that I will be willing at some point, because it’s just who I am (and I think it’s who a lot of stepmoms are). We choose to see the better side of situations (heck, we married men who were previously married with kids, right?).
Ultimately, it will help to know that it’s okay if a bad situation happened and you fell back – because you will get up again and you will try again and you won’t give up.
But not giving up does not necessarily mean you will speak to her again or have the same type of relationship – it may either never happen or look completely different the next time around – and that is okay, too.
I really hope that you found this post on a day when you needed reassurance that it is okay to fall back.
I hope you found this post during a time when you were doubting yourself and why you fell back, but after reading, you know that you will be okay and that what you did – what you stood up for – was worth it.
I hope that this post brought you some peace that you needed.
And of course, I hope that you will share this post with your other stepmom friends – so that they, too, can know that – if they have recently fallen back – it’s okay (and to not beat themselves up about it, regardless of why they did it or what came from it).
If you are new to my blog, welcome! You can head here to learn a little more about me, Leslie W.!
In addition, I’d love for you to check out The Stubborn Stepmom page on my blog – we have so many resources and support for you there!
Something else I think you will enjoy are a few of my most recent posts about being a stepmom, including:
- 25 Inspirational Quotes for Stepmoms
- Existing Together, Separately | A Co–Parenting Story
- 38 Products Every Stepmom Needs RIGHT Now
Well friends, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for joining me here. Make sure you sign up for my email list below so that you never miss a post about stepmom related things! Thanks for reading, and take care.