In my early 30’s when many of my friends were getting married, I was getting divorced. With two young boys. I was a mess.
But slowly I started rebuilding – taking care of myself, my kids and working on gaining my self-confidence.
I was feeling pretty good when I met my husband. He was awesome, and had 3 incredible kids. We were excited to start our Brady bunch family together. There was one problem, and it was a big one. His ex.
I remember meeting her for the first time. My husband was heading out of town and she was coming by in the morning to pick the kids up. I naively went to the door to greet her. Knowing the history of how their marriage ended I saw no reason for any animosity!
Boy, was I wrong.
I was greeted with an icy stare, and terse one-word responses.
I was so thrown. I was so upset. What had I done to deserve this? I had done nothing wrong.
Well for the next 10 years, it continued.
If I did things for my step kids or loved them, it was “who does she think she is”. If I missed something or forgot something it was “this would never happen if it were her biological kids”.
I tried to be kind. I tried to adjust. I tried to be flexible. I tried to be more likeable. I tried to be indifferent. In my mind, I tried everything. Of course, along the way, I was making a ton of mistakes, but in my mind, I was trying.
At one point I realized that I was spending so much time trying to be the perfect step mom, that I wasn’t even being the mother I wanted to be. I realized I was letting someone else’s opinion of what I should be doing or how I should be parenting dictate how I was actually showing up as a parent in my children’s lives. Why was I handing over my power of how I wanted to mother to someone who didn’t know me and clearly didn’t like me.
I started to learn that her opinion of me had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with her own thoughts about herself.
Have you ever heard the analogy about the peach? It’s an analogy I heard from one of my mentors/teachers: you can be the juiciest, most beautiful peach in the world, but there is always someone who is not going to like peaches.
And if someone doesn’t like the peach – we don’t blame the peach, right? If someone doesn’t like a peach we don’t say, “oh it’s the peach’s fault…if the peach was better, it would be liked”. We don’t even blame the person who doesn’t even like the peach. We don’t hold it against them that they don’t like peaches. It’s ok that they don’t like peaches. It doesn’t say anything about the peach. It merely says something about the person’s preference: they do not like peaches! The peach doesn’t get upset that someone doesn’t like it. The peach just keeps on being a peach and letting all those who adore peaches love it!
How liberating it was to think “if someone doesn’t like me, it doesn’t mean anything about me”. It could just mean that I am not their flavour. I am not their style. I am a peach and they just don’t like peaches! And that’s ok.
It was also liberating to just give someone permission – in my own mind – to not like me. It’s ok you don’t like me. I’m not for everyone. I don’t need you to like me to know my own worth. To know that I am a great mother, a great stepmother and a great person.
I learned that the most important thing was to focus on me being me. If people like me, then they are liking the real me. If they don’t like me then it is not a reflection of me – they just happen to like apples instead. There are plenty of peaches and apples to go around.