of the hope that things could be the way that you want them to be."

I forget where I read that, or who said it, but I've been turning it over in my head lately.

I'm the stepmom to a wonderful seven-year-old boy. I love him and I think he mostly tolerates me at best.

I've struggled so much with this. I want him to love me. I want to find a way for us to jell as a family unit. Right now, it's mostly him and his dad bonding and playing, while I do the scheduling and coordinating and lurk in the background.

It doesn't help that I don't think his mother is making good decisions. Not, like, child protective services bad decisions. He's well fed, cared for, and loved. But there are no rules, no structure, and no limits at his mother's.

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I cringe when he talks to her in ways that would have gotten my face slapped as a kid. I cringe when a seven-year-old expects his shoes put on, his seat belt buckled, when he has a meltdown over being told "no" over small things.

It makes me angry that his mother takes the easy way out and buys his affection with indulgence rather than earning his respect through nurturing and discipline.

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But being angry won't change that. It won't make her less weak and selfish. It won't make my stepson love me, or feel welcome in my house.

So I'm letting go of the hope that she will change. I'm letting go of the the hope that my stepson will do anything other than tolerate me as a presence in his life, no matter how much I love him. I'm letting go of the hope that the things I do for him will be seen or appreciated (I am not letting go of my responsibility to love and nurture and care for him). I'm letting go of the hope of ever being recognized as a good stepmom. I know I am, and that's enough.

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I'm letting go. And I feel free.