Most women do not grow up dreaming that they will one day become a stepmum. Often women dream of being a biological mother, perhaps either a foster or adoptive parent. Stepparenting is traditionally not something which is fantasied about and it is certainly not in the forefront of every little girls dream. With divorce rates statically higher than ever before and the rate of repartnering also high the chances of becoming a stepmum are highly probable. While you may find the person of your dreams and know that they are the one for you, you might not have ever considered that the love of your life will already be a parent.
Naturally at the beginning of a relationship there is a honeymoon phase though for many women dating Dads or Mums this honeymoon is cut short and the reality of stepfamily life begins in most cases far too early. This is just one example of where you can feel a deep sense of loss as your longing to be swept up in the bliss of new love is overshadowed by the very fact that your partner has children. In stepfamilies there are always so many layers grief which are often unspoken. This is just one example of loss for a woman who is dating someone with children.
For some women this sense of grief and loss can exist for a short period of time, though for some it can extend over a longer timeframe. This grief can also revisit time and time again, especially as challenges arise and the struggles of stepparenting increase. Dealing with this grief is extremely important as it will slowly chip away at your self-esteem and quality of life.
Here are 3 tips to consider when you feel the dark clouds of grief descend:
1. Remind yourself that you are worthy of time and space to grieve. While you aren’t grieving for the loss of a person per say you are grieving and your experience is just as valid as any other type of grief. You are grieving for the loss of a dream and ideal.
2. Seek personal ways to explore grief so that you are expressing your emotions. Keeping your emotions bottled up inside of you for an extended period of time can lead to irritability, difficulties sleeping, lack of concentration, a desire for isolation and more. You may like to utilise your own resources for self-expression through art, journaling or photography to name a few. It is also really important to engage in professional support if dealing with your grief alone becomes overwhelming.
3. Physically move your body. Our emotional selves are not separate to our physical bodies. In fact it is scientifically known that our body’s psychological makeup is first to know how we are feeling. This is through a change in heart rate, disturbed sleep patterns, increased anxiety and there are a myriad of other physical responses your body may reveal. You are the best person to gauge how you are travelling. Any form of physical movement from a vigorous Zumba class to a gentle walk can decrease the elevated stress hormones in your body and help to release healthy feel good hormones such as endorphins. Moving your body on a regular bases can certainly support you through this time of grief.
Grief for stepmums is real and can exist for a vast array of reasons. How you feel grief, and want to deal with it, will be unique to you. If you need to stay connected and wish to do so in a less formal sense you can head on over to the facebook group Amazing Stepmum Support Group and share how you are feeling in your role as a stepmum.
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