My oldest daughter left for Mozambique, South Africa in May of this year, just a few days after completing her teaching degree. At 23 years old, she wanted to explore a long-term missions opportunity before she committed to a teaching job back home. She will be there through the holidays this year.
I knew that’s where her heart was and would not consider keeping her from going, but I miss her greatly. Before she left we lived across state lines, so I was used to not seeing her every week but I talked to her regularly. Without a phone in Africa, our only means of communicating is through Skype or Facebook.
When I talk to other moms about how it feels to have your young adult child in another country, they don’t “get” it. Even those who have children across several states don’t understand how it feels to not be able to pick up the phone and reach them or know you can hop a plane and see them the same day. I find myself jealous when I see pictures of moms and their young adult children spending time together. I feel isolated in my world as a Mom with a child in another country. Some days, I would love to talk to another mom who understands it.
I think that’s what happens to us as stepmoms. We live a life that others can’t understand unless they’ve walked the journey. Moms have no idea what it feels like to have the parental responsibility of a stepmom with very little authority. They try to relate and equate their feelings as a mom but they just don’t “get” it. Others don’t understand the loneliness and isolation that accompanies the stepmom journey.
The value of stepmom sisterhood should not be underestimated. If you don’t have stepmom friends, I encourage you to find some. That was part of the purpose of our stepmom retreat and I love seeing how ladies continue to connect with each other via social media since returning home. If you can’t find local stepmoms, reach out to a stepmom group online. There’s a great group of Twitter stepmoms who share their struggles and encourage one another. If you’re looking for online groups, however, be careful to only associate with those who are trying to support each other and solve their stepparenting challenges, not create drama and bash the exes.
Ron Deal, blended family director of FamilyLife, is compiling a list of stepfamily groups who are meeting locally in churches throughout the US. I’ll have access to that list when he posts and will share it. My husband and I joined a stepfamily group early in our marriage that helped us understand stepfamily dynamics and find answers to our stepfamily challenges. I’m forever grateful to that group for rescuing a wounded marriage.
How about you? Where are you finding support for your stepmom journey? Don’t do it alone. Start your own group if you need to. But don’t neglect stepmom sisterhood. It might be the one thing that keeps you sane!
Where do you find stepmom support? I’d love to hear about it!