The Thankful, Ergh…Frustrated Stepmom

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If you are a stepmom, you know how frustrating it can be.  For example, the other day when I dropped my stepkiddo off a bit late at school I asked the lady at the front desk where I should sign her in.  She replied, “well the ‘real parents’ sign over here…” (Oh, ouch, I wasn’t aware that I’m not real, thanks for letting me know).

Then there’s the lady who would not help me resolve a situation for my stepkiddo one day. However, when I conferenced my husband on the line, she helped him with every question and request he had.  (I think I’m catching on, he must be “real.”)

Or how about when a coach recently introduced me to some of the other moms.  They greeted me with big sports-mama smiles.  Then the coach clarified that I was the STEP-mom.  And I watched the smiles fall off their faces.  (How dare a stepmom invade our mommy club?)

I hear a lot of these stories from stepmoms.  There are mildly uncomfortable situations, annoying situations, and despair-filled, heartbreaking, overwhelming situations.  It’s a frustrating place to be.  There can be a lot of “I-feel-like-I-just-got-run-over-by-a-truck” kind of days.  It’s good to know that I’m not alone.  Often stepmoms are just trying to help kids get to and from school, to and from appointments, cook, clean, help with homework, do the laundry, and so on.  All for kids that are not her own.  It’s unfortunate that sometimes others can make it more difficult.  Nevertheless, I see the amazing things that stepmoms do to support and care for their stepkids.  I marvel at this.  These are some strong, brave women with really big hearts!

Today I am thankful that there is hopefulness amidst difficulty.  I am thankful for this hope that God promises.

Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) “but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I’m also thankful that God provides rest for us weary stepmoms!

Matthew 5:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What are you thankful for?

 

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This Stepmom Has It All

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This stepmom has it all…or does she?  Ok, I admit that was intended to be an eye catching title.  Here’s how the real story goes.

Years ago I was venting to my dear friend about my stepfamily woes.  Probably went something like this, “This is not what I expected, we were supposed to be so happy.  This is the man of my dreams, but everything is so messy.  The kids adored me until I married their dad, now they want nothing to do with me.  There is so much stress with the ex.  Now we are being pulled into court.  I never knew this would be so stressful.  This is not what I signed up for…”  And on and on I went.

Then I came up for air, paused for my friend to add her empathic comments to confirm how dire my circumstances were.  And she said, “I always knew you’d have everything you ever wanted.”  (Cue noise of car coming to a screeching halt.)  Was she even listening to me?  Did she hear a word?  And then I remembered that this is my friend who sees a silver lining in everything.  She is uniquely gifted that she can see amazing things in very dark situations.  She can see God at work when others cannot.  She went on to say, “You have a wonderful husband, a home, and you finally have children! I always knew God would give you those things.”  And while my perspective was dark, she saw light and His hand in things.  What a huge lesson for me.

To this day, in times of trouble, my husband and I will look at each other, smile and say “I always knew you’d have everything you ever wanted.”  It reminds us to have perspective, to see the blessings in things, and to reframe tough situations as best we can.  Then we have a laugh together and know we’ll get through whatever has come our way.

Today I am thankful for a wider perspective.  An eternal, not temporal, perspective.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):  “For I know the plans I have for you,  declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

What are you thankful for today?

A Stepmom Needs Her Girlfriends

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Throughout my stepmom journey I have become increasingly thankful for my girlfriends.  They are my prayer warriors.  They are in my corner when it seems that no one else is.  When I’m accused of not being a “real mom”, they see all of the hard work that I do, and they affirm it.  When I talk about blended family stress, craziness and drama, they don’t look at me like I have 2 heads.  Spending time with them refreshes me and reminds me that I’m not just a stepmom (we hang out, share stories and laughs and the stepmom stress melts away and I remember there’s more to me than this one hat that I wear).  They encourage and uplift.  And when I really need it they are my accountability partners.  While I might feel a certain way or want to act a certain way, they remind me what Bible says.  They are brave enough to give me messages that the world doesn’t give.  The world tells us things like “do whatever feels best to you”, “relationships are all about your personal happiness”, “put yourself first” and so on.  My girlfriends remind me that God is our ultimate guide, not the fallen world.

Today I am thankful for my girlfriends.  God knew I needed them and provided wonderful gifts in them.

I Thessalonians 5:11 NIV:  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up”

What are you thankful for today?

Father-Daughter Time and the Stepmom

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I just returned from my annual father-daughter weekend.  My dad has been a hockey fan since before I was born.  I can just picture my dad as a kid playing boot hockey in the alleys behind the houses in snowy Minnesota or walking to the pond, throwing those skates on and playing hockey right there.  So, every year we go to a huge hockey tournament together.  (When I say huge, just let me say that one day there were 27,000 in attendance just to give you an idea of the size.)  We have been doing this for many years and we love it.  We love hockey and we love our time together.  I look forward to it.  I take off work every year for this.  It’s a priority.  And it’s a real community event.  You get to know other season ticket holders because you sit by them year after year.   The man who sits next to us has been bringing his son for years.  I have seen that kid watch hockey with his dad from the time he was a toddler and now he’s as tall as me. Not only is this a big Minnesota thing, a community thing, a cultural thing (hockey, a Zamboni, cheese curds and mini donuts automatically qualifies it for a cultural event), but it’s also a family thing.  When you sit in your seats and survey the crowd you see many grandparents with grandkids, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, mothers and daughters and so on.  I enjoy this special time with my dad and I want this same kind of thing for my stepkids and my kids!  That relationship, that fun, that trust, that bonding, those memories.

And so my mind wanders to the blended family world that I live in.  My husband is great about making time for 1:1 dates with his daughters.  The kids are getting older, and the dates continue.  The special time ranges from lunch dates, to fishing trips, to cross country site-seeing trips, wake boarding/boating days, to buying donuts and watching cheesy movies, to just doing yard work together all day.

My husband and I enjoy reading books by author Dr. Kevin Leman. Not only is he wise, but he’s hilarious.  He writes on many topics but we especially enjoy reading about the tremendous impact a daddy has on his daughter, and the impact a mommy has on her son.  Not only does this relationship affect the development of our sons and daughters (it helps shape them), but it also impacts their future dating and marital relationships.

Today I am thankful that my husband really understands the importance of his relationship with each of his kids and that he spends special 1:1 time with each. I’m glad that despite his divorce and despite our very busy and continually-blending family, this special time with the kids has remained a priority.  (And I’m appreciative of the miraculous way he balances all of these “dates” so that no one feels less loved or left out).

Psalm 127:3a in The Message says:  “Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?”

What are you thankful for today?