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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Feeling Appreciated – Its important!

Parenting has come quite naturally to me, maybe it’s because I am the oldest sister in a reasonably large family and have been surrounded by children my whole life. The bathing, dressing, organising dinner and playing I can do with my eyes closed and I really (I mean really!) enjoy it. Maybe it’s the aspiring mother in me?

That’s why; when I became slightly resentful, tired and anxious about step-parenting I knew something was wrong. I was coming home from my 8 hour day at work completely exhausted. To be honest, my only thought was a shower and bed, but I couldn’t. I had to come home (or at least that’s how I felt), face my messy townhouse, organise my stepdaughter for dinner and bed and then maybe I could think about my shower.

I had countless arguments with my boyfriend and heard myself saying over and over again “I do everything” and “You don’t appreciate me!”

He turned to me and said he did appreciate me, he noticed everything I did and that he thought I liked doing it all. He has heard us girls giggling at bath-time and bonding while we get ready for bedtime, how could he think I didn’t enjoy it? And obviously he loves seeing me building a relationship with his daughter.

So basically I had actually complained about doing something I like? Try making sense of that!

Confused and tired I realised I did really love what I was doing, I had never given him the opportunity to help me and I defiantly had not asked for it either.

You see, all I needed was words of affirmation.

I needed him to tell me each night he noticed what I was doing and thank me. The moment I asked for this, and he told me how grateful he was, I felt 200% better.  He had filled my heart back up with Loving words kicking out any of that resent and anger I was holding onto before. When I asked for what I wanted, I got exactly that. My partner DOES appreciate what I do, and I guarantee yours does too!

My BF is different; he shows his appreciation and love in other ways that I was not noticing. He would give me quality, uninterrupted time after little one had gone to bed and he would always ensure I was being kissed and cuddled enough. I did not realise that in fact that’s how he was trying to show his appreciation.

Others may have noticed these signs straight away, but for me all I needed was “Thanks-yous” and verbal acknowledgement because that is my way of showing my gratitude towards him every day.

 

So, what I am trying to say is if we continue to be in relationships with these men there is always going to be things we want to be thanked for, and acknowledged for. It may not just be the household chores, it could be having to meet with his ex-partner or dealing with a temper tantrum. Things are ALWAYS going to come up. And we are always going to need that pat on the back and appreciative glance from our other half because what we are going through is hard, it pulls your heart strings, pushes you do things you usually wouldn’t do in “normal” relationships. And you do it all for you man, so they should be god damn appreciative!

So to keep your sanity and your heart full of love ask your partner to show you they appreciate what you are doing the way you need, no matter how that is. Taking the trash out, cuddles and kisses, presents …anything. I did it and our relationship is so much more harmonious and just isn’t any of that confusion and resent lingering anymore.

Our men want to make us happy, they wouldn’t be with us if they didn’t.So give them a little helping hand, I promise it will work!

(And remember to thank them for choosing you to be part of this new little AWESOME family you are building too!)

And if you don’t know how you need to receive this full hear read: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman!

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