Yep, these are my goofy girls. All four of them. Two came through very long, very painful, wouldn’t change a thing about them, labors. Two came to me when I married my husband, and it was a just as long, just as painful, but still wouldn’t change a thing about it, process.
Nope, there is nothing glamorous about being a step parent. (But really, is ANY parenting really that glamorous?) As a matter of fact, step parenting is one of the most difficult jobs a person could ever take on. Many people would probably say you were insane to take on children that are not your own. Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to deal with all the sass and attitude when it’s your own child. But, add into the mix children who are dealing with the trauma of divorced or separated parents and you just kicked it up to a whole new level.
Brittany just turned four the weekend before I started dating her dad. Still dealing with all the emotions that comes with divorce, now there I was thrown into the mix. Another person competing for her dad’s attention, when she really needed it the most. For many years there was lots of sass and lots of attitude…and I don’t mean just from Brittany! I had my share of lost temper and selfishness. When was I ever going to have a chance to be alone with my new husband? We were newlyweds without the new.
Learning to share my new husband with someone else was a big adjustment. Yes, there were roses, chocolates, sweet notes left in my car, Elvis serenades driving down the highway. But there were also late night nightmares, early morning belly aches, afternoons with Barbie dolls and dollhouses, weekends waiting for the ex to show. No, there was nothing typical about this new relationship. But, very rarely does God ever call us to be typical. It’s in the untypical and the unusual that we grow and see His hands working it all together.
Now, before anyone gets all bent out of shape saying I knew what I was getting into when I married him…yes I did. Mark and I dated for two years before we were married. Two years of getting to really know each other and making sure this was the right decision for us…and for his daughter. Brittany was never, ever left out of the equation. She was always right there with us, right in the thick of the relationship with us. We took her out to dinner together…where I taught her to eat butter out of the little tiny containers. (She loved it!) She went to family get togethers…on my side of the family, getting to know my mother and my sisters. (They loved her!) And I grew to love this little girl very much. However, love does not make the struggles any less real. I was honest enough with myself to know that the struggles with a hurt, confused (why did my parents have to divorce?), sometimes headstrong, little girl were not going to magically disappear the day we married. Yes, I understood that the struggle would be real for many, many years to come.
So, before I married into this little family I had to weigh the pros against the cons. Would the love and joy I experience in this family, from both my husband and my new daughter, be worth the pain and struggle I experience as a new step-mother? It didn’t take long for me to decide, it absolutely was!
Step Parent: One who chooses to “step” up as a loving, positive, parental role model in a child’s life.
Seven years into our marriage, Ali was introduced into the Pickett family when she was just nine years old. I was finally starting to get the hang of this step parenting thing (or so I thought), and just gave birth to my own daughter six years prior, when this sweet young lady entered our lives. You would think after seven years I would be a pro at this. But no, there was still a struggle, still issues. They were just a little different now.
My first concern, am I ready? I was still learning to step-parent one daughter. I wasn’t sure if I could handle another. Emotionally, physically, or mentally.
Also, after experiencing a miscarriage the year before, my husband and I had decided we were finished. Having kids was no longer an option for us. The two daughters we had were enough to fill our lives. We were all good! And suddenly here was Ali. God had showed up and said “Oh no, you are not done yet! There is so much more on the horizon for you two than you can even imagine!” (He was SO right, as just two years later our youngest daughter was added to the mix!)
And finally, the little girl I gave birth to just six years ago. How would she react to this new person suddenly in our family? Would she understand? Would she think we now had less love to show to her? How in the world am I going to make us all come together as a family? (Like I’m the one who makes that all happen, right?) And this was difficult, at first. There were some tears, some confused emotions. But the more time Ali spent in our home, the closer these two became. Looking at them now, you would never know they hadn’t spent their entire lives together as sisters.
Jesus took care of it all….
My fears, my worries, the pain, the confusion….He took care of it all.
You see, women have this misconception that we are the ones that hold everything together. Our strength, our determination, our will is what keeps everything from falling apart. But the truth is, the only way we ever hold anything together is by handing it all over to Him. That is what I had to learn to do…every single day. Let go of my fear and feelings of inadequacies about being a stepmother and trust in Him as I placed my entire family into His hands.
I know and believe in my heart that it was in God’s plan for all of these girls to be in my life. And each one was placed in my life at a certain time for a specific reason. I learned it’s not so much about learning to be a stepmom, as much as it is learning to rise up to the challenges and step up into the roles that God has placed for me in my life.
STEP UP AND RISE UP!