The Loneliness of Step Parenting

Have you ever been lonely?  Are you a step parent or have a step parent in your life?

So I read Jess’s blog post, 9 Ways to Write Attention Grabbing Post Titlesbut never thought I’d actually use it this fast.  I do my best to keep emotions that I might deem “chancey” in check here and in life.  Maybe it’s how I was raised (Captain in the Navy Dad) or maybe it’s just me.

Yet, as I mulled over possible posts for this week, including a “temporary hiatus…we’re up to a ton…” one I felt that this topic needed to be addressed.  It’s been very dear to my heart over the last few weeks, as Scott’s teen son has been with us.  That time concludes very soon.

For the sake of background, and honoring that all step parent realities are different, ours works a bit like this.  Scott has his son for three weeks in the summer and alternating major holidays.  Now that we’re on opposite coasts, the time is pretty much finite.  Though, with any step and custody situation, there are endless variations, no? Yes?  Maybe?

With all that has gone on while his son has been here, an overwhelming existence, until the 2/3 mark, has been an extreme presence of my feeling lonely.  I might have chalked it up to pregnancy hormones before, until I had a conversation that changed things.

My feelings of loneliness looked and sounded a bit like this inside of my head…

  • No one else gets it.  Everyone else has a happily married family with kids in both of our families except for one sibling who appears to me to have a deep, positive bond with his step-daughter (she lives with him).
  • All of my friends, trusted and distant, have strong marriages and amazing children.
  • I’ve heard of blended families in our town, but really…do they exist with people I know and/or trust and/or talk to regularly? I doubt it…
  • Scott doesn’t get it… He has his perspective.
  • Talking about the angst of step parenting goes against what I know to keep my mouth shut, deal with it on my own, pray, and then communicate in a way that is best..in private.
  • Be cautions… you’re dealing with a minor and other factors (e.g. biological mom, emotions, etc.).

Well, all of that existed and brought me to a point of extreme loneliness until I reached out to a few friends.  I didn’t even realize my loneliness until I texted a friend who is not a mom, not married, but just completed RAAM and is the 2011 female winner of the Dirty Dozen.

Somehow sharing with Anne-Marie, who responded with grace and compassion, brought me out of my emotions and into awareness of what was going on.  Once I understood it, I could acknowledge and deal with it.

Yet, those thoughts kept churning and others added to them.  Eventually I had an unplanned moment on the phone with a dear close relative.  She said, “we’re in the same spot” and she elaborated.  In respecting her privacy, I’ll leave her analogy to the moment, and just say that all of my loneliness evaporated.

In that one moment, I knew I was fully understood.  I was understood and accepted by a woman who is blood related to Scott and Daniel (that should give a big clue, no?).  She just told her story and all I could think was, “thank you…” while trying not to cry.

Being a step parent can be incredibly lonely.  It can also be a chance to strengthen one’s relationship with one’s spouse and other outside sources in a positive manner.  Through these past few weeks, I’ve battled my introvert-ness and reached out to friends.  I’ve learned their wisdom and perspective.  I’ve felt their kindness.

I’ve also spoken, at length, with Scott, and felt his support.  I’ve heard it and seen it in his face.  While it can be a lonely time, it can also be a time of much love.  It all depends on what we choose, and we have to trust that we are all doing the best we can in each given moment.

How do you work through lonely periods?  Have you ever connected with someone completely unexpectedly in just the best of ways at the right time?

Arriving at Thriving (An Article on Parkinson’s and Depression)

Have you ever referenced an article during times of mass media reality?  

I was hesitant to put this out at first, but in light of much of what has been put out in the media regarding Parksinson’s, depression, and more, I found comfort in knowing it existed.

This article, Arriving at Thriving, was written by my mother-in-law about her experiences as a caretaker of a person living with Parkinson’s and her own living with Parkinson’s for the National Parkinson’s Foundation.  Yes, both of my parents-in-law live with it, and they are some of the dearest people I know.

Dad’s eyes twinkle when Susanna is around and he’s less stubborn.  Mom stops everything (when possible) to let Susanna guide her day.  They’re a large part of why we moved to Washington, and for that I’m beyond grateful for we love it here!

Anyhow, if you feel it would be beneficial to someone, please pass along the article.  Mom is stand alone awesome on her own.  She’s humble, raised eight kids, was a submariner’s wife, and is incredibly resourceful.  There really aren’t words for her, nor Dad.

Yet, it’s her words that I felt important to share, for they add a touch of insight, of humor, and of compassion and grace in a very challenging reality.

What articles have inspired you of late?  What makes your in-laws unique in their own way?

 

Images of Grace and Gratitude

Has it been a busy week for you?  Have you felt or found moments and images of grace and gratitude?

Our lives have been quite the unique combination of reality the last few weeks, and we’re getting ready to embark on some adventurous travel over the next three weeks.  I’m hanging on, packing lots of quality food, and doing my best to live in each moment while choosing to see the beauty, grace, and gratitude of it.

In honor of all that has been busy, all that is forthcoming, and all that is not… here are some of my favorite images of grace and gratitude from this past week or so.

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Our little girl, teacher of hope, at one of our favorite state parks.

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Our other little girl, not yet born, whose name means “shining light” was on my mind as we watched the sunset just a few bits from home.

images-of-grace-and-gratitude3My Scott, our crabber, our ex-Special Forces guy, our writer, our philosopher in his element at about the same spot at the above picture a day or so later.

images-of-grace-and-gratitude4Hiking in the PNW.  I adore living here.  (For those interested, this was on the way up to the big red cedar in the Quinault Rain Forest.)

How do you celebrate grace and gratitude?  Where do you feel those?  What’s on tap for you over the next few weeks?