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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

Why The Polar Express Made Me Love Being a Stepmom Again

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This one was originally written by Emily, Member Manager for

Full disclosure before I tell this story: I wasn’t even supposed to be on the Polar Express with my stepdaughter. But as three year old children do, she started crying in line with my aunt that she wanted me. My aunt being the amazing person she is, gave up her ticket and gave it to me so my stepdaughter would have a good time. So in a way this should be titled: Why the Polar Express and My Aunt made me love being a Stepmother again.

The holiday season has always been a tough time for me since my parents moved away to Florida (I live in New England). It is also a tough time for me because I have to get all my Christmas shopping and wrapping done before December 11th because every year we go to Florida the week before Christmas (This year we decided 2 weeks). Of course, none of this is my husband's fault and definitely is not my stepdaughter's fault, but this year I think I let stress get the best of me and began to take it out on them. With stress and my stepdaughter being a sassy, opinionated, stubborn 3 year old... I was just worn out. Looking back, I was not being the stepmother that I pride myself on being, and if I’m being truly honest, I was sucking as a wife too.

Then, the Polar Express.

If you have never been on it, I’ll try not to spoil a whole lot but to be honest the “magic” of it is almost like Disney in some aspects. You may know what’s coming up but seeing the kids faces all around you, it will never really be spoiled. You first start with pictures in front of movie backdrops and then can write a letter to Santa (My stepdaughter had me write that she wants a whoopee cushion). After a while, they ring the bell and have the kids say “All aboard!” Before long, confetti is falling from the sky, and let me tell you, I wish I had recorded my stepdaughters face.

The Polar Express

Once on the train, they pass out hot chocolate, read the book The Polar Express, sing Christmas carols, and then the train stops. The kids sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” twice and all of a sudden Santa walks on board. My stepdaughter's eyes never left him as he went to greet every child and give them each a gift. When he got to her, she couldn’t stop smiling and has not stopped talking about it or the bell he gave her. I could go on and on and make this a Polar Express review, but what I truly want to write about is how it changed my attitude.

Yes, my stepdaughter toward the end started to whine that she wanted to go home. Yes, she asked me for YouTube a couple of times, but none of it annoyed me like it had in the past couple of weeks. All I could see is the beautiful blue eyed girl in her Christmas pajamas having the time of her life, being so happy just to see Santa and be on the "magic train." It had to be the most rewarding moment as a parent for me.

Redefining Stepmomming

When we got off the train and began to walk to our car, my stepdaughter grabbed my hand and told me how much fun she had and then said “Ellie, you’re my best friend.” And that was the real “Ah ha” moment for me. As a stepparent my role is to step up when I’m needed and step back when I’m not needed, but in my stepdaughters eyes my role is to be her best friend.

Sometimes my best friends annoy me. Sometimes they do things I don’t like or agree with. Sometimes I lose my cool with them, but they always take me back no questions asked and no hard feelings. That’s what my stepdaughter always does too.

Whether it’s the holiday season or just another tough week, you’re doing great, stepmom. Just believe in yourself as hard as my stepdaughter believes in Santa.

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