When you think back to the dreams you had as a little girl- the dress, the Prince Charming, the happily ever after- I’m willing to bet it didn’t include being a step-parent. No one grows up dreaming of caring for SOME ONE ELSE’S kids. And yet here we are.
According to stepfamily.org around 50% of women live in a step-family relationship.
The dream of having the “ideal” family of 3 kids, a dog, a career, the perfect doting husband has gripped my heart in shackles of perfectionism (thanks a lot Disney). This ‘dream’ is rare. It’s NOT the norm. When I was divorced and single I had turned down a few men just because they had kids. I didn’t think I was selfless enough to take on that daunting task.
One day my friend told me to try match.com. I thought this was a terrible way to meet people- superficially judging people on their BEST selfie (ewe) and what THEY think of themselves. I was on there for 3 whole days before I couldn’t take it anymore (y’all the dating scene as a 30 year old is ridiculous). In that short window a very sweet, down to earth man messaged me. His tag line said God and family were most important to him- right under the picture of him and his 1-year-old SON (thank God NO selfies). Fast forward- he’s now MY son too.
Through this journey I have had to learn A LOT. And I’ve learned about myself and my own upbringing along the way. I’ve had to deepen my roots to produce good fruit. Learn how to offer myself grace. Grow closer to God to discover how to do my new role. Prune the branches with rotten fruit. Learn how to ask for forgiveness for buying a little boy pink scissors.
It’s funny how God uses your past to prepare you for the future. My husband needed someone who came from a divorced family to help him navigate the waters. He came from the “dream” family and was very naive to the new “norm.”
In the mean time we also starting trying for more children. Our struggles are still ongoing as we haven’t been able to conceive almost 2 years later (whole other heaping bag of self inflicted anguish). BUT it got me thinking- this MAY be my only child and I have to be ok with that. I felt so alone- funny how we think we are alone when we are where we don’t want to be in life. But then I started thinking about my aunt who adopted twins, my friend who was a foster parent, my mom who was also a step parent. The act of raising someone else’s children suddenly wasn’t so foreign. Love, for me, is not a feeling. It’s a daily choice to act in love. To chose every day to hug, kiss, encourage, feed, grow with your children whether they’re yours or not. I’m not looking for gold star but for someone to care for someone else’s tiny human WITHOUT that emotional and biological connection is even more commendable.
My first Mother’s Day was hard. Not what I expected. I felt second fiddle and it sucked. But I also mentally already put myself there. There’s no pretending to be a replacement or the only mom when their biological parent isn’t around- that’s just the nature of the relationship. BUT I get to be an adjunct- the addition – the gap filler -the OTHER mom. Now that is a role I can fill! At our house we say “other” or “biological” mom. No thanks to Disney (again!) the evil step-mother symbol still lingers in my mind. So in our family, the weekend before Mother’s Day we celebrate “Other’s Day.” MY day.
Maybe some day I will take on making it a national holiday. But in the mean time, happy (very belated) Others Day to all those raising their unbiological children!