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by Karon Goodman
(September 2001)

When horrors strike like those that hit America on September 11, 2001, it's easy for us all to turn our attention to a global terror bigger than anything we face individually. For at least a moment, our problems seem insignificant and petty, and we learn valuable lessons of perspective and gratitude. We are stunned at the sadness and insanity of it all, and yet, we must go on. We must get back to our lives that matter still.

Often, we can use such horrific events to help us see the bigger picture, to develop understanding and patience for one another, and to make better choices in how we deal with our problems. But we can't let the uncertainty of tomorrow keep us from doing our jobs today. We can't forget that our lives are complex, and oftentimes, we hurt and suffer our own wars that require our full attention. We must remember, even in the wake of national tragedy and beyond patriotic spirit, what matters still to us and our families.

What matters still is your life as a stepmom. If you're hurting from your stepchildren's rejection or their mom's interference in your life, it matters still that you look for solutions and peace. It matters still that you take the daily steps out of your own foxhole to advance even one bit closer to the life you want. It matters still that you don't surrender.

If you're having a tough time loving your stepchildren or building the relationships that you want, it matters still that you reach out to them every day. It matters still that you open your heart and risk being wounded for the prize that awaits. It matters still that you secure help from your husband so that you can keep going in the right direction, with support and encouragement from your greatest ally.

If you're a stepmom active and integrated into your stepchildren's lives, it matters still that you discipline them and teach them right from wrong. It matters still that you do the daily routine, have them do homework and clean up after themselves and face consequences for poor behavior. It matters still that you are strong enough to put their best interest in a future you cannot see above your inclination to step back from such hard work.

Times of stress and insecurity produce great leaders. You can be a great leader for your family during its own time of peace or time of war. You can teach the lessons of forgiveness and tolerance and gratitude that tragedies often make so clear. You can teach the lessons of priorities over pettiness that we so easily forget. You can teach strength and courage, understanding and diplomacy in your own messy conflicts. You don't have to sit idly by. You can fight for the future of your family by remembering what matters still.

Make yourself a list of what matters still to you, today, even if you were far removed from the attacks on America. Enjoy your new perspective, use the unexpected clarity that you've found, and start right now to work on your list. Be the stepmom that you want to be, powered by unrelenting focus on the most important ideals of your heart. Protect your marriage, teach your stepkids, reach your goals. Focus on what matters still.

Karon Goodman is a writer and mother who publishes an email newsletter for brave, overwhelmed stepmoms. Karon's site is a tremendous resource for moms, as well. Don't miss it! This article was previously published @ fellow WF Partner site: