Tuesday is National Stepfamily Day. It's a holiday not many people talk about or acknowledge and I'll be honest, it's typically not even on my radar but this year it is thanks to a new ad Honey Maid came out with and I want to tell you a little bit about MY stepfamily.
This past April, my husband and I celebrated 10 years of mostly wedded bliss. This is a huge accomplishment in any marriage but especially ours. We got married, his second marriage, when I was 22, he was 30 and his children were 5 and 3.
It is absolutely insane to me how much I thought I knew about life and love and parenting and how things were going to go 10 years ago. Naive, much?
I rarely talk about my role as stepmom these days. I think it used to be much more a forefront thought in my mind and now it’s just, “we have five kids.” I’ll elaborate more if people ask, saying names and ages and further explaining that the oldest two are my step kids. I still get the “ahh, I see” reaction from time to time from those who have their own assumptions and beliefs about step moms and step kids and what that role may look like but what’s funny is over time I’ve figured out and decided I don’t really care what other people’s perceptions are. I know what my role is. They know what my role is. Nothing else much matters.
For years I felt judged, especially in Christian circles and here's the deal, I too stood on that judging side once upon a time. I am so thankful that the God I believe in is forgiving and never stops giving second chances and that he prefers to hang out with the imperfect ones like me.
And here's the thing, I think that as negative as society and Hollywood paints the picture of step mothering and ex-wives and divorce there is also something sacred in the beauty of sharing children in this way. I think about this a lot, this sacredness, the gracious way in which their mom treats me in my role.
Last spring I filled out tons of paperwork enrolling and re-enrolling kids in school and general paperwork, I was called and asked about an emergency contact I had listed. I always list my stepkids mom on my kids paperwork as a contact and this person thought it was an error.
“Nope, that’s right,” I said.
“Well that’s generous of you,” she said and we hung up. The words hung in the air afterwards and I couldn’t help but think it wasn’t generous of me at all. If anything, generosity has been extended to me time and time again.
I am often jealous of these tight knit families with family that will swoop in and take care of things in a moment. Families who never have to worry or make a page worth of phone calls or texts to arrange childcare, grandparents who provide after school care and the ability to say, “grandma will be there today for lunch at school.” I’m sure in some twisted way it’s unsettled grief I have from losing my mom almost 7 years ago now. It is always there just below the surface and I’ve probably said it a few hundred times over, I’m the wrong person to complain to about your grandparent issues.
But I take comfort in the family we create. I consider my stepkids mom and her husband a part of my family. We can text back and forth laughing about one of the kids’ inability to ever get their laundry to the laundry room and virtual high five when one accomplishes something seemingly simple but huge to us. If you’ve ever seen my littles around them, you’d notice that my 5 year old gravitates to them, looking for mints and always has to go potty when we arrive at her house if only to pet the dogs and do a quick run through the house.
Do we do things wrong and have misunderstandings? Sure, don’t most families? We will never claim perfection for we are all wobbly knees and stumbling as we go along the path of life.
While Ty and Maddie will remember little of their life before this one, Henry, Evie and now Frannie, will know nothing besides this. Our oldest two come and then they go and when they are gone, my littles will ask each day when they will return, because they know nothing else but to love them and to miss them.
My role as a parent began as a stepmom, a mom to someone else’s children. I’m fairly certain I didn’t understand the complexities of what that meant until I had my own children and once I did I was overwhelmed with gratitude because I’ve been given a lot more grace than I think I’d ever have been able to give.
I will never boast a perfect, easy situation. What I will boast is that we’ve always worked hard.
“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford