Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hey Stepmom...


A word that comes with such visuals I shudder to use it. In fact I never describe myself as a stepmom.

What comes to mind? Come on... you know.
Disney had a hook in which Stepmother was hung and it wasn't decorated with roses and pretty ivy. You can see her. Can't you?


Then you remember all the women in your life that are a stepmom. You think about the young family at church, that troops in a number of different ages of children, sometimes all together and sometimes just one or two. You remember your cousin married a woman with a child. You think about an older couple in your Bible Study group with a blended family and the Grandparents that are raising their grandchildren.

It is so commonplace nowadays that we tend to forget how many step parents there really are. Our mind often links to the wicked stepmother in Cinderella that is abusive and evil. We remember the Wicked Witch that hates her stepdaughter's beauty and is so envious of her she wishes her dead! Unfortunately, now we are tainted in our thinking of the word.

The Preacher Man and I have a blended family. We often joke we are like that old Lucille Ball movie with a His, Mine, and Ours sort of lifestyle. The difference is we have other parents we have to deal with. We are not married secondly with children because of widow-dom. We were both married before. Married before we were Committed and Born-Again Christians.

So even with those past sins forgiven we soldier on in this world we had created before. We are an example of the New Nuclear Family. We have Mom and Dad, 2 of Mine, 1 of His, and 2 of Ours. We also have Step Parents, Step Siblings, Half Siblings, And a set of Grandparents acting as Step parents. You almost need a drop down menu to follow the family trees leading to and from Our Family.

We don't use titles such as Step Brother, or Half Sister. We say: Brother and Sister. We say: Mom and Dad. We have strove to provide a home that is without those titles that would seek to pull us apart or put walls in between our children. We have worked hard to make a united front in parenting, no matter what the other Parents say, we stand firm using God's Word as our guide. We act as a nuclear family as often as we can.

Young Mother and Her Children

We have known since the beginning that the odds are against us and that the 'norm' for families like ours are dysfunction and pain. Often this is found leading to a division of family that only exacerbates the problem and causes a cycle of building relationships, placing walls up, and then separating. As a couple entering into marriage with children from previous relationships we decided we would double and triple our efforts to place God as our centerpiece. We knew we would have to pray, and seek, and repent and then do it again.

We have been optimistic in our approach. We have been honest with all of our children about details of our B.C. (Before Christ) Life and about some of our bumpy and rumply paths. We are a walking example of God's Unending Love and Grace. Of the possibility of a New Life as a New Creation in Christ. We are the Mess made Whole Through Christ. 

We are not however perfect. We goof up. We sometimes miss the mark. 

Breakfast in Bed

We have some children who are living in between worlds. We have family dynamics that change depending on the weekend and who is home. Sometimes my youngest son is in the 'oldest' spot instead of his 'middler' or 'youngest boy' spot and he transitions well into and out of this space. My truly middle child is the oldest child at his 'other' home and that is a much bigger transition for him to bump back into when he is there. 

There are different belief systems in these other homes, none actively Christian, and that can lead to confusion and frustration. When one set of parents  or guardians allows an act at their home but we do not it can be a thorn. When one set of children is told negative things about their siblings' nationality that can cause hurt and internal dilemma for that set of children. When what we say is Biblical Truth is contradicted by another set of parents we are left defending our choice. It can go on and on.

In truth, I am not complaining. I am asking the Church to be understanding of a situation like ours. I am 100 % supportive of blended Christian Families. It is a ridiculously difficult path to tackle. We would have loved to be only married to each other, to have had a sacred honeymoon, and have all our children sharing the same last name and DNA. That would have been quite a wonderful thing. 

That was not our path. Our path was scarred with life's trials and mistakes. With addictions and problems. There were bad choices and lots of painful results. We were broken pieces of clay waiting for the Master to search us out and place us together.

But there were three beautiful and amazing persons that came out of that B.C. Life. Three lives that are now committed to Christ. Three lives that we are raising, in the shared time we are given, to become strong doers and preachers of The Word. Three fantastically created children that have had one heck of a puzzle pieced childhood. They are resilient, strong in faith, discerning beyond their years, and all growing into the most hopeful of souls.

In Giji Park

So here we are. Carving a life out of that space in our Family Tree. Forming strong roots that dig deep for stability. Wrapping around the Rock of God's Word to keep us steady. We need to bend with the wind and storms. Bend and sway with those fights and personality disputes. Shake off the insults and the hurtful words from those 'other parents'. Drop leaves of regret and leaves of sorrow at all the things we can't live up to so we can look 'normal'. We let the bark grow thick over those spots where well intentioned Chritianese speaking folks have forgotten that we did live that Before Life and that we have no control over certain traits and things those 'other parents' bring to our children. 

I am not gonna lie. When I see families with mom, dad and the 4 kids deciding to go on vacation I am jealous of the ease in which that happens. When we plan vacation, I have to notify no less than four other people! We then have to schedule it in, by playing my favorite game: Which weekend is mine and will you trade so neither of us loses any time? 
I am envious of families that can Live together, Move together, Adventure together. My husband works hours away to provide for us, but we can not move to live with him because of custody arrangements. I lose children or force them to choose. What mother can do that?
I am heartsick that I can not do daily devotions with all my kids, that our family worship is rarely as a whole family, that holidays are broken up into random dates circled on the calendar. I celebrate the days when we are all together and we can play a board game and eat popcorn and laugh like it is going out of style.

The Orphans

We are striving to tear down stereotypes. We do not see ourselves as halves or steps but as wholes. And yet.....
I am by definition a stepmom. 
I am also a mom. 
And I am also a mom whose children have a stepmom. 
I am not evil. I am not hateful. I don't want to steal a child or make a child a slave. I do want them all to respect me. To love me. To see me as just mom. 

Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children. Billy Graham
Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window
When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it is a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway. Erma Brombeck
 No one in the world can take the place of your mother. Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right. She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones. Harry Truman
Mother and Child

 I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
Abraham Lincoln

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
Washington Irving

So to you who are the definition of Stepmom, I say, you are mom. You are raising, loving, providing, comforting, and breathing your daily walk into that child. Act like the mother you are. Forgive. Be patient. Lose the labels and titles. Build the bridge. All that mom really wants you to do is love her children like they lived under your heart for nine months as well. 

For you who deal with a Stepmom in your child's life, I say, pray for her. It is a thankless job with little to no respect. Pray for her even when you don't want to. Pray that she is open to your suggestions. She knows she can't replace you, but she wants to make a great stand in. And she needs you to not bad mouth her in front of those children. She will earn the respect but she deserves the honor of parent if she is your stand in. She may even rise to the occasion.

Those who have the rare joy of being both, I know it is a tough job. I am living it. I know it is hard. But it is worth it. Pray. Pray for the Stepmom she is and pray for the Stepmom you are. And then be the best you can be in the situation you were placed in. God has given you a unique view of the world. Don't waste it being angry or petty. 

Realize how blessed you are to be heart touched by that child and to have the privilege to help raise him.

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

All quotes from:

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