January 7, 2020

How to Cope when Giving Your All Still Isn’t Enough

The last few months are a  blur. Being a stepmom is challenging in the best of times. In the worst of times it becomes excruciating. At nearly 12 years into my stepmom journey I thought I had the job down. However, as a shortsighted human, I overestimated my experience and wisdom. Alas, I have much more to learn.

A researcher by nature, I tackled my new normal by research. Eventually, my research led me to a blog post entitled, “3 Vital Tips for Stepmoms to Cope with Total Burnout” by Michelle Zunter.  Here, I found a quote that resonated deeply. A quote that perhaps should hang in a frame above my desk. Immediately I opened my journal and inscribed the quote, hence keeping it were I can reflect on the words often. “In a blended family, there are many pieces which are broken. Even the most amazing super glue or super stepmom can’t seal those cracks forever.”

Those words echoed in my brain. Immediately I could see there truth. For 11 years I have put my heart and soul and time into healing something that was cracked, broken and bruised long before I came along. I believed that if I just loved enough I could fix all the broken parts. The truth is, I couldn’t.  My presence added more moments of joy then it did pain. I believe I helped those involved and will continue to do what I can to help.  Still to think I could fix things that were broken long before I arrived was ludicrous. What convinced me I had that much power on others?

As I considered the words and how they affected me I realized these words don’t just apply to stepmoms. If you remove the word blended and change the role stepmom to mom, daughter, caregiver, nurse etc.… the quote becomes, “In a family, there are many pieces which are broken. Even the most amazing super glue or super (Mom, daughter, sister, caregiver, nurse) can’t seal those cracks forever. In 20 years in healthcare I have yet to meet a person, a family or an organization that is not broken. Humility requires that as a caregiver, in a role, we are human. We are not all powerful thus  we cannot fix the problems of others single handedly.

We can love, we can care, and we can make a difference. To appreciate the difference we can make requires that we accept what we cannot fix. We are not after all superheroes. As you move through 2020, I hope you will join me in extending to ourselves grace. Accept others as they are not as we wish them to be, help where we can yet accept the brokenness that is not ours to heal. Within such acceptance may we both find peace.