4 Key Habits that will Improve Your Whole Life

Becoming a step mom starts with something broken.

Divorce. Heartbreak. A broken man. A broken home.

Then, something beautiful begins to happen. In the beginning, before step parenting, you are hope in human form.

You are someone the broken man can believe in again. Someone that can heal a broken heart. That’s pretty special when you think of it.

Blended family fact: It’s complicated

No one told me marrying a man with kids would be easy. (It’s not.) What I didn’t expect was how complicated everyday life could become. Little complications throughout the day can make you feel helpless.

The truth is, if you aren’t careful, you’ll start to feel broken, too. I’m writing this post today because I’ve been there. I’ve felt that way at times.

Yes, I decided to help raise two children that will never truly be mine. Completely by choice.

With that choice, I also decided not to have any children of my own.

I’ve felt broken when the kids are angry and say, “You’re not my real mom.” I’ve broken down after the kids embarrassed me in public; I clung to Mr. Right and cried.

I learned that just like any family, blended families are complicated, only times ten.

How to Be Whole Again

Feeling broken lets pieces of your best self fall apart. You might even feel a little lost in life, going through the motions. That’s why I loved this post on how you’re only 1/4 of a writer. Author Ollin Morales made a point that stuck:

If you want to be a great writer you need to live a great life.

The same mindset applies to everything we do. Think about it.

If I want to be a great writer, step mom and wife, I need to live a great life.

Subconsciously, that’s what I’ve been doing, ever since deciding to get out of debt and work for myself. Living a great life is my true amazing work in progress. Since that first year as a step mom, I’ve changed.

If you’ve ever felt broken as a step parent – or as anything – this is me rooting for you. You can stop the cycle. Enough is enough.

Broken can’t define this family forever.

Tips for living a great life

Here’s how I went from feeling like a broken step mom to feeling whole again. No doubt your situation is different than mine, but no matter who you are or what kind of step nightmares you face, these ideas will help.

Ask for help.

Are your emotions overwhelming? Is your step son’s behavior keeping you up at night? Ask for help. Get the kids (or yourself) in counseling. Talk to other step moms, or just moms in general. There is nothing new under the sun, so I promise you, whatever is happening, there is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Someone out there has been in your shoes.

Chase your dream career.

For me, that’s being a writer. If you hate your job, I’d recommend quitting it as soon as you can. Really. It might take years, but life is too short to wait around for something amazing to happen. Go get it yourself.  Give yourself permission to do something else.

Remember who you are.

It’s easy to get drowned out by the noise of a blended family. Take time to think. Try Tammy’s tips and go for a walking meditation.

You are more than a step mom and wife. You have hopes and dreams, ambitions, friends. Maybe you used to scrapbook, keep a journal or read trashy romance novels. Don’t ever stop.

Take care of yourself.

I used to smoke a pack a day. Now I use natural ways to eliminate stress instead of cigarettes. I also try to:

These are some of the ways I’m creating a positive step mom experience. The truth is, nobody wants to feel broken. Your husband didn’t, your step kids didn’t and neither do you. Living a great life is a way to move forward.

Hope marches on.

If you liked this post, please share it. Thank you!

Photo by N E P L O H O

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.


1 Timaree (freebird) January 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Stepmom or not, even mom or not, feeling broken is not a place any of us like to be. Sometimes jobs make us feel this way or being the lone Democrat in a family of Republicans (or vice versa), floundering in a religious faith that no longer fits or many other things make us feel broken. Your tips can help all of us when we find ourselves not quite fitting in and struggling with it.

2 Melissa January 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

That’s a great point. There are many ways to feel broken. Thanks for pointing that out. Hugs!

3 Elizabeth Havey January 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm


Just wanted to tell you after the Master Class on Friday that your site is great–clean, smart, easy to navigate and interesting content. I have just joined and have a lot to learn.

4 Lisa Fine - lisasfoods January 26, 2011 at 1:13 am

Thanks so much for sharing my blog with your readers, Melissa. Have a great day.

5 Alicia January 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

I can’t tell you how much I needed this and how this came at the perfect time. My husband and I are having a terrible time with our relationship right now because of his daughter and our varied ways of dealing with things. We have messaged each other various times just this morning on possibly divorcing. Maybe this will help.

6 Melissa January 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Hi Alicia,
Come together to solve it! You have to get on the same team somehow – sooo important in a blended family. Wishing you a peaceful outcome. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know. Hugs!

7 Eileen O'Shea March 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Hi Melissa,
Just discovered your blog – enjoying it lots!

From Leonard Cohen – another perspective on being broken: “There’s a crack in everything. It’s how the light gets in.” Love that way of seeing our brokenness…

8 Melissa March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Beautiful, Eileen! Thanks for sharing that quote.

9 Cynthia August 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Hi Melissa-

I wanted to take a moment and say thank you for this blog and your posts on being a step parent. I met and fell in love with this amazing man last year and this is the first summer his kids have been with us while we’ve been together. I wasn’t even prepared in the slightest, regardless of all the parenting prep work I did beforehand. I don’t have kids of my own, and never wanted to have kids. But I love him, and so everyday I do whatever I can to find my place in this family dynamic that existed long before I showed up.

It’s hard. I want to cry alot. Broken is a very good word for it actually. I think it was in another post of yours that you pointed out that no little girl dreams of being a step mom. I dreamt of a relationship with a man who is strong and independent like me… Of sharing my life with someone to whatever degree we decide works for us… Of having weekends away and evenings naked and beautiful romantic memories. That’s not possible with kids around. So I spend everyday trying to fit myself into the life that exists already for them, rather than building the one that I always wanted with a partner.

Thank you for your posts, and please keep on keeping on with these because I need to know that I’m not alone, that I can get through each of the stages that come, and that it can be a life where I am happy and fulfilled.

Thank you for all you do…


10 Melissa August 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Hi Cynthia,
Wow, it sounds like you have a lot going on in your family right now. I can definitely relate to your feelings. Being the “other mom” is an emotional roller coaster.

I wish you nothing but the best finding your place in your blended family. I really believe you’ll find it. As my step kids get older, I have good news to report – those weekends away and romantic meals become more and more possible. Mr. Right and I are having a lot of fun in this new season of our life.

Peace and hugs,

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