This past week, my step-daughter Addie cheered at the last football game of her Senior Year. As part of her school’s tradition, the parents were invited to escort their Seniors across the track as they announced their names. While I have never expected to be included in these kinds of moments, sweet Addie asked me to be a part of this special night.
I was not prepared for the amount of emotions I would experience leading up to this. The realization of all the years that had passed and all the life we had lived together blew me away.
See, I never, ever dreamed that I would be a step-mom. Ever. As a young girl, I never once said “I can’t wait to be a step-mom!”. My parents were never divorced, and growing up I didn’t have many friends who had divorced parents. I had very few examples of what it meant to be a blended family.
As life would have it, I quickly and unexpectedly found myself on the fast track to step-parenting. And there is nothing in the world that could have prepared me for this role. There are so many extra emotions that come with being a step-parent, and I had no clue how to properly handle them. I went from being super step-mom that was cool as a cucumber and had it all together, to the selfish, hot mess 25 year old that I actually was.
To add to the crazy of blended family life, we lived 3 hours apart from one another. This turned weekend exchanges into small road trips as we battled Dallas/Fort Worth traffic every other weekend. When I chose to marry the man of my dreams, I also blissfully volunteered to share in part of the weekend driving (you know, like a psychopath). . . for many, MANY other reasons, this later changed. HA! But, for years I drove Friday nights and my husband drove Sunday evenings, or vice versa.
One night, on my way back home from picking Addie up for our weekend with her, I felt a nudge from the Lord. For years I had wrestled with a myriad of emotions in regards to my status as step-mom. Mad, frustrated, feelings of being cheated, feelings of my biological kids being cheated . . . I felt constantly overwhelmed with the amount of sacrifices . . . you name it, I felt it. And I beat myself up over it. But as Addie lay next to me, passed out as I played with her hair, He spoke to my heart.
“I trusted her to you” . . .
Perfect simplicity. She wasn’t my flesh and blood, I’m not the woman that beared 9 months with her and saw her sweet face as she entered this world. No, nothing could possibly compete with that. But I was something. I had a role, a place, a purpose in her life. I was trusted. Trusted with a role that my Heavenly Father fully equipped me to perform, and He was relying on me.
In that moment, and for the rest of the moments, I clung to that truth. Don’t get me wrong, I knew from the moment I laid eyes on that beautiful baby girl that it would be an honor to have even a small role in her life. But, when things got challenging and stressful, I needed those words to remind me that He had a plan specifically for me. A plan that I had a choice to live out boldly or walk away from.
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3
So there I was, 15 years after meeting my sweet step daughter, standing on a high school track, arm in arm with my husband, Addie, and her momma. Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy. Things hadn’t always been perfect. The years were filled with lots of unpretty moments. But there we were- together. It was the culmination of years of sacrifice, years of tears, years of back and forth, disagreeing, arguing, and planning . . . but also years of laughter, and love, silly moments, sister videos, giggling kids, family game nights, family trips, family snuggles, family pictures . . . family.
Do I live out my role as step-mom with perfection? Uh, no way - far from it actually. But once I realized that I had a place and a purpose to serve the Lord in this role, things changed for me. If you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated - THAT’S OK! Give yourself the grace to feel those emotions, but don’t wallow in them. Take your frustrations straight to the Lord and remember that He has equipped you to be what you need to be for your babies.