I’m a Rubber band

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One of my favourite books of all time is “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” This book has done wonders to my understanding the difference between Men and Women in relationships.

One of the most clarifying chapter’s I have found is titled “Men are like Rubber bands”

Essentially this chapter describes one of the emotional cycles men experience. This phase involves getting close, pulling away, and then getting close again. John Gray the author wrote “When a man loves a woman periodically, he needs to pull away before he can get closer”

So this morning while travelling to work I was thinking about what I wanted to blog about next, and then it hit me – I’m like a Rubber band when it comes to step-parenting.

I was feeling guilty. This morning’s quick 30 minute rush to work is the last time I will see my step-daughter until her next visit. I had removed her from the bathroom while I was showering telling her to play with Barbie until I was ready for us to go downstairs when usually I would let her watch me as I do my hair and makeup. Seems minor I know.

To be completely honest I was really, really looking forward to coming home today to a quiet, clean home. This afternoon will be all about kicking up my feet, pouring a glass of wine and not requiring to pester about eating dinner or be concerned about baths and bedtime.

I was ready to pull away.

Below is a summary of how John Gray explains the need for men to pull away like rubberbands.

“He may love and trust her, and then suddenly he begins to pull away. Like a stretched rubber band, he will distance himself and then come back all on his own. A man pulls away to fulfill his need for independence or autonomy. When he has fully stretched away, then instantly he will come springing back. When he has fully separated, then suddenly he will feel his need for love and intimacy again. Automatically he will be more motivated to give his love and receive the love he needs. When a man spring back, he picks up the relationship at whatever degree of intimacy it was when he stretched away. He doesn’t feel any need for a period of getting reacquainted again”

The first evening SD comes to stay with us each fortnight, I am always really excited. I plan exciting things for us to do and anticipate an enjoyable weekend. You will see from my other blog posts that I adore my SD and that my most hated notion is that of “Disengaging” so you can understand why I felt guilty this morning.

But, by the end of the weekend I am emotionally wrecked. She is 3 and can be challenging at times. Most of the time she requires continuous attention. Like, the friendly reminders to focus on eating dinner before playing, me getting woken up in the morning to a teddy bear being thrown at my head (3am), back-chatting is the new thing when we enforce rules  (For example; the most recent when being told to eat her dinner “No daddy, Mummy said I don’t need to eat my dinner, if I don’t want it I can just watch TV”) and we cannot relax on the couch without her jumping on top of us.

SD really craves attention, sometimes a crazy amount, meaning conversations between my partner and I are often interrupted by a “Look at this” (however nothing important to look at) Coming home the first thing BF talks about is Kindergarten, before I can even express how my day has been. My things get ruined (currently missing an expensive Tiffany and Co bracelet along with other things!)

I seem like a big nag, but when I am living in seclusion with my partner 70% of the time and then have to transform into a supermom it becomes overwhelming.

Bio mums are accustomed to loving their children, and they reap the rewards! Some of us SM’s are trying so hard to build a healthy relationship with these children, while also ensuring their relationships with their partner continues to flourish. For Bio Mums, more often than not the child will naturally love you.

We feel judged constantly, hoping we are doing a good job for our partners/husbands, many times we bite our tongues because we believe it “is not our place” when disciplining. Our minds are constantly flicking through what we would and wish we could do differently. And to add to this cocktail of emotions, we love our Stepchildren and feel guilty when we yearn for a break. (or maybe this is all just me?)

But for now until I see her again I need to pull away stretch out my rubber band as far as it can go. I will focus on myself and my relationship, have me-time, be the centre of my partner’s attention, have an emotional and mental break and not feel guilty. Because I am doing this silently and lovingly. I looked after and cherished my SD while she was in our care, and by the time she returns my love tank will be full again for her, and I will be able to do it all over again.

I may also need to “pull away” while she is with us, hide in my safe place, put her to bed a little earlier, shower with no disturbance, or read a book… anything. And I won’t feel bad. Because once I have pulled away I know I will spring back to the same warm, devoted place.

Sometimes all we need is a little break to save us from turning into “The Wicked Stepmum”

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6 thoughts on “I’m a Rubber band

  1. I can definitely say that the majority of kids sound like your SD; craving attention, butting in, not listening…any of my nieces/nephews and the step kids have all been like that, that I’ve noticed. It can be worse with step kids but it’s definitely normal.

    As far as the discipline thing goes…do you personally feel it’s not your place, or is your husband making you feel that way? Maybe it’s something you guys could talk out together. I know at first I didn’t feel comfortable and my boundaries were very small…by my own choosing. But the closer I got to my fiancé and his kids, the more I was around them, the more I looked after them and took on a mothering roll, the more comfortable I felt.

    I can definitely understand the rubber band thing too. There are times when I just have to retreat and regroup, but I come back better than before.

    I think you hit on a lot of good points with this post!

    • I think because I grew up in a big family, and all my cousins are in big families (still really young) I am used to children finding that attention amongst themselves, rather than needing adult attention all the time.

      No it is more me than my partner, he is happy for me to do as I like and I will always call him if she is not listening or mucking up more.I still don’t like doing it though!

  2. I’ve felt that way too and have also felt guilty about it. It’s times like that I talk to my fiancé and let him know it’s both our jobs to entertain, love and care. I miss the kids terribly when they’re not here and relish alone time too. I think every parent feels like that when they get time off!
    Boundaries are good for kids and as long as you explain later why she has to go play for a while sometimes she’ll be fine.

  3. Yes! For one, I grew up in a home where the parents were not responsible for constantly entertaining the kids. My stepkids missed that memo! They always want us to entertain or take them places, and it drives me nuts. The eldest has a definte need for attention which also is hard for me to swallow but I try to remember that some of that is probably her attachment issues from the divorce. But your stepdaughter is so young, and my younger stepdaughter was 2 at the age of the divorce and not as needy with attention/entertaining, so maybe it’s just her personality! But I know it may sound bad to some but when I have a full week off I am sometimes relieved! Dinner when we want, no interruptions or whining, running around and baths, laundry and dishes doubling…it’s nice to have a break sometimes and I don’t think it’s bad to enjoy it! The constant changing schedule is hard on most people.

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