Entries tagged with “The Gift of StepMom”.


Christy Campbell’s heart blesses the Gift of Stepmom series. While Mother’s Day is over… the heart and love that stepmoms bring to their families lives and breathes everyday. Her story will touch you as she shares how she became a stepmother and the gifts she gives her family and the gifts they give her. Hope you enjoy her heartfelt words and will visit her blog GoodStepmom.

A Reciprocal Gift by Christy Campbell   

I used to think about what it would be like to have kids and what kind of Mother I would be.  In my twenties, I was busy going to school, working a job or two and paying the bills.  There was plenty of time, besides the fellow I had been with for years at that point wasn’t my future and I knew it.   I then met and eventually married a great guy.  He was one of the most sweet, caring, compassionate, smart and well liked people I have ever known.  We talked many times about starting a family, but he was focused on his career and I had moved on to graduate school.  We thought we still had time to do everything we wanted to do.  There went our thirties. Then he got sick.  Barely into my forties, I found myself the main bread winner and also caregiver of my husband.  Now I began to think oh dear, maybe we don’t have as much time as we thought.  That dear man passed away at the age of 44.  Well then, that was that.  I had missed my opportunity, so at the age of 42 I threw myself into my career and took up a few hobbies.  I filled my schedule.  My life became busy, orderly, predictable…quiet, but I wouldn’t have called it full.

I come from a small family.  My only sibling was killed in an accident many years ago at the age of 32.  He had no children.  As a result I was never able to attain Aunt status and enjoy nieces and nephews, apparently that wasn’t in the cards for me either.  Then, just as I had sort of settled into my reinvented life, some five years into widowhood, guess what…I met a guy. It didn’t take long for him to tell me that he had children. Almost as if testing my threshold, he told me he was not the Father of one, or even two, but three.  To be honest, at the ages we were I was sort of relieved. I had been introduced to some very nice fellows but you know…maybe he still lived with his Mom, was perpetually single, had been married multiple times with no kids, drank too much on our first date, never grew up…My thinking was heck, I would almost expect that a guy had started a family by our stage of life.  I let him know it didn’t scare me any and off we went!  I was introduced to them and to one of his sisters very quickly.  The kids were awesome, so accepting of and curious about this woman their Dad was seeing.  We spent a lot of time together from that point forward, all of us and he proposed 7 months later.  I went from me, a few good friends and my dog to a ready made family.  The oldest boy, was 14 and the twin girls were 10.  So that’s our background.

Reciprocal gifts.  I’ll start by the gift I think I have been to them.  I am their third party.  All of them have come to me at one time or another as a buffer or advice giver, to help them relate to their Mother or their Father.  That alone is pretty cool for them. I’m a built in sounding board.  I’m close enough to them that they value what I think, and they quickly came to sense and rely upon my mediating skills. I set up conversations with their Dad for them, when they would come to me with a plea, so that his ears were at least open.

I frame the situation for him and appeal to his intellect to hear them out before he just says no. It seems to work nicely.  I have listened to their points of view and during tough times with their Mom and their Dad. I have tried to help them with the way they approach their parents to foster productive conversations.  Though I don’t directly impact how my kids relate to their Mother, I do provide enhancement I believe.  I listen to them complain about her at times but I never participate.  I do rather, try to help them understand where she might be coming from and that she does the very best she can.  At times I have helped them come up with ideas to make their Mom feel more included in things, or to make up with her after an argument of some sort. So one gift I have provided is to teach my kids to aim for open yet respectful communication and tolerance in their communications with others, particularly their parents.

I have been the counselor, driver, nurse and mentor for these guys for years. I have tried to teach them the importance of manners, etiquette and the meaning of propriety.  I have hosted sleepovers and parties, have held hands through the angst at becoming more physically mature, through girlfriends and boyfriends, broken hearts, issues with other kids at school and various social mishaps. Lately I have been teaching them and some of their friends how to write (finally homework I can help with!).  And we’ve gotten some A’s yes we have!  In a nutshell, I try to provide sustenance not only physical but emotional.  I’m not their friend and I’m not their Mother, I’m their other Mother!  I would think having an active and involved Step Mother would be a big asset.  Mine wasn’t, I have tried to be.  Three years ago at the age of 49, I gave them a baby brother.  They all love each other very much.  My kid’s Mother I think, knows that their other Mother loves them and helps take care of them.  I think their lives are enhanced by my presence and that I will have some influence over how they turn out.  Now, let’s flip the switch and look at the other side of the story.

Let’s talk about what this man and our children have done for me. I got to love a man again, and all the crazy ups and downs that it entails.  I became an instant Mom.  I got to share my cooking, my interests and my beliefs.  I was finally able to say things like…I need time off to go to my children’s Christmas play.  I got to make cupcakes, cookies and gingerbread houses. I got to introduce them to snow cream and how to cut out snowflakes.  I got  to assemble toys till the wee hours of the morning on Christmas eve.  I got to have the conversation about the fact that I still believe in Santa Clause. I  was able to color Easter eggs, make Easter baskets, go trick or treating again.  I got to teach them what swimming at the lake was like and I got to introduce them to the ocean, riding on a plane and show them the mountains.  I got to hug and sometimes snuggle with them. I was able to cook for my family and actually host holiday dinners at my house.

I found I was relied upon to get them from here to there…even their Mother would call and ask for my help at times.  I got to take care of my kids when they were sick and got to pick them up at school from the nurse’s office and receive medical instructions.  I got to shop for dresses for proms and go through the drama of preparing for dances and dates, I got to teach a guy how to be thoughtful of the women in his life, his Mother, his girlfriend, his Grand Mothers and Aunts.   I got to be a soccer, basketball, volleyball mom. I was able to share my thoughts on their progress in school and get them thinking a little bit about their future.   I get to be aggravated at the attitude of teenaged girls,  I get to enjoy the young man our eldest son is becoming.  I was given the opportunity to have a baby of my own.  Without these lovely people, that would never have happened. That little family I met one day a few years ago has given me so much in return.

I may go on about all I do for all these guys at times, but when I look at what my life was and what it has become, hands down I come out ahead.  I have a husband and dear friend and I have 4 kids.  I never have drawn distinction about who I actually birthed and who I didn’t.  I have a 21 year old son out there in college, an elected Fraternity officer with a job, making me proud.  He’s my baby boy’s hero and that’s so cool.  I have two 17 year old daughters.  They have allowed me to be a Mother.  I’ve lived with them the longest…they test me…I’m sure I test them…but I have 2 beautiful healthy smart incredible daughters.  And my little man.  He’s three now.  He loves his family.  He is my crowning moment.

My Grandmother gave me some advice right after I lost my first husband.  I’m sure she had no idea how profound her words were.  She was awesome, very loving and a strong woman.   As a widow at that time of almost 25 years, she offered me this.  All you can really do is try to make a life for yourself that you know he would have been proud of. At any point that I could have taken a wrong turn, made a bad decision, done something that wasn’t good for me, I thought of what she had said.  I look at what I have now, and I think I’ve done that.  I think he would and perhaps is very pleased at the life I have created. I think she would be too.

So you see, my story is about caring, perseverance, hope, determination, reinvention, love and destiny.  I think life takes you in the direction you are supposed to go.  I think in ways, I rescued this divorced, fractured and scarred family and I know that they saved me.

My statement about the gift of a Stepmom is this:  Give and you shall receive.  I believe that.  I have been through my fair share of loss and disappointment. I have told my husband many times…they are my reward.  Bless them and all the things they have given me.  I have a full life now and a big part of the reason for that is because I became a StepMom.

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You can learn more about our guest contributor, Christy Campbell, at her blog GoodstepMom. You can also connect on Facebook and on Twitter.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the reciprocal gift of stepfamilies? “Give and you shall” receive is true. Often we may not receive when we want to but our efforts bless regardless. Please share your thoughts.

Kerri Ann wrote to me sharing her journey from successful single girl to stepmom. Her wit, wisdom and honesty will touch you. Her heart for her family and the everyday challenges is refreshing. Enjoy Kerri’s story and check out her blog Simplicity Interrupted.

From Single Girl to Stepmom by Kerri Ann

Three years ago I was a single law school grad.  My cares and concerns revolved around my job search, my social life and caring for myself and my dog.  Are you sensing the theme? It was tough work, obviously.  At the time, my five year plan involved landing a dream job, finding the perfect man, and living happily after.  And three years later, here I am with all of that accomplished – kind of. 

The job is not anything I set my sights on in law school, but it challenges me every day and I am always learning and growing as an attorney.  And the man … well, he is my perfect man.  Except that I never dreamed my perfect man would be older, divorced, or a father of two.

My life has definitely taken on a new focus.  Now, I am grocery shopping for four, baking cookies, and packing lunches.  I’m helping with homework, coloring and crafting at the kitchen table, and folding doll-sized laundry.  I am playing Headbandz, listening to Radio Disney, and having impromptu dance parties.

The amount of four legged friends in my life has doubled.  My beloved Michael Kors purses have turned into carriers of crayons, snacks, band aids, and permission slips.

Any mom will tell you that this is her life too – a life that no longer revolves around just you anymore.  But moms have an advantage of a slow but steady evolution to this point.  It can be jarring to the system to have an insta-family, with no real preparation for what is to come.  And, especially at first, it was difficult for me to determine what my role really was.  I was busy – busier than I had ever been – and I was doing mom-type things.  But I am not the mom.

Their mom is very active in their life, whether they are at our house or hers.  It’s great for the kids – their parents are in constant communication about homework, doctor’s appointments, after school activities.  I would never wish that to change.  But it made it difficult for me to determine what I was bringing to the table, when the phone would ring with instructions on what to pack for lunch, who needed what at school the next day, and whose birthday party Todd and I would be bringing them to that Saturday.  There were (and still are) times I felt like hired help – baby sitter, maid, dog walker, snack preparer.

 

Knowing that I “chose this life” made it difficult to talk it out with friends and family.  This is not a situation that is easily understood from the outside – the relationships and the emotions are complex and confusing.  It was something that Todd and I were going to have to work on for ourselves, and only I could make the decision of whether I was happy in this undefined role.

 

It’s taken a lot of work, but we’ve gotten to a comfortable place.  I am not their mom.  But I am Dad’s partner, and that’s pretty significant.  Todd and I make sure that our relationship takes a front seat – date night is a priority, spending time together each week is a must.  We’ve decided that it is really important for the kids to see a healthy, loving adult relationship, and that they deserve the security of knowing that they cannot pit us against each other.

And as for my happiness in the role – well, it took some soul-searching.  I still feel like hired help at times, but then I remember that I am not doing any of this because Todd or their mom asked me to.  I am doing all of it because it is what I want to do for the kids.  When I get really overwhelmed with the situation, I stop to think – if someone else was caring for my child … if someone else was putting my daughter’s hair in a ponytail, getting my son ready for baseball practice … how would that make me feel?  I don’t have children and this thought causes a wave of uncertainty & regret … so I can only imagine what it feels like when it’s really happening.  This allows me to take a deep breath, and do what needs to be done, knowing that empathy is the only feeling I should ever have towards their mom.

The kids – they are thriving, and they are teaching me and helping me grow more than they could ever understand.  Without them, I’d never have developed this level of patience, never would have really understood what true empathy and compassion means, never would have learned how to make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Now, as I’m picking up socks, making pancakes, and rushing home from work to read Harry Potter before bed – I smile.  This may not be exactly what I pictured for my life, but it’s beautiful and happy, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Kerri is an attorney in Boston and a lifestyle blogger at Simplicity Interrupted.  She lives just north of the city with her fiancé, Todd, his two children (half the time), and their dogs, Stella & Coco.  She loves joining the #TwitterStepMoms conversation on Twitter, and can also be found on Facebookand Instagram!

The following guest post is from April. She has lived the stepfamily life. Growing up as a stepdaughter and now as a stepmom, April has experience and heart for those of us on the journey. And I have to publicly apologize to April as it has taken longer than it should have to post it. No excuses just a heartfelt “I am sorry.” Her story needs to be shared and her heart will bless you as you read. Her words are going to stick with you and rightfully so. Thank you April.

Do You Need A Hug? One Stepmom’s Story of Love and Acceptance by April M.

“Do you need a hug?”  The man standing in my doorway was familiar to me however I was not yet comfortable at his presence.  I was three and it was the first time my mother had left us alone with her new friend.  My brother, then 8, peeked out from across the hall; he was probably just as nervous in this moment as I was.  I had wanted my Dad and this man was clearly not, but I must have really needed that hug!  All I could do was to stare back bright eyed and motion my head timidly up and down.  This embrace would be the first of many with the man I later chose to call Dad.     

My mother and he (Mike) later married and my blended family began.  Mike also had a daughter from a previous marriage, who is now my best friend and sister.  Soon after, we were blessed with a baby brother who tied us somehow all together.  This union was difficult for me to adapt to during my adolescent years.  I rebelled against change and struggled to deal with the guilt I felt towards this “happy” family and the grief for my biological father.  To this day he has never spoken an ill word concerning my mother but even at a young age I could sense his sadness at the demise of our family after she left.

From the early years I would brag to Mike about how awesome my “real” dad was and all the great things he could do; Mike would thoughtfully help me to recognize additional things I had forgotten to mention.  Into my preteens I would purposely ignore Mike or not include him in our everyday activities; he would come to all my karate tournaments, basketball games and volunteered at my school.  When I lashed out as a teenager I would make sure Mike knew he was not my “real” father and he had no “real” rights; he would discipline me anyway while reminding me how much he loved me.

When I was 18 my mother decided to leave once again and my existence was crushed at the thought of losing the man I had grown to love……my other dad!  I had always believed that I was dismal because my biological parents hadn’t raised me together, but now the thought of losing a parent who actually did and chose to raise me, was devastating.  These fears and empty insecurities were quickly diminished however as Mike and I grew closer.  Through this period and at the blessing of my biological dad, I lived with him in the family home, went to college and took a stronger role in our family business.

It was into my mid-twenties when I started to actualize that my life’s events thus far would set precedence to the full circle I was on route to completing.  During this time I met a man, Ken, who’s wife had left him and was sharing custody of their two boys, (3 & 6).  We started off slow as the boys were still healing and dealing with a step father they didn’t particularly like.  After much time together, Ken and I discussed with them, their feelings on living together.  Both boys were so excited and welcoming.  I was thrilled.  I had high expectations and failed to see some of the frustrations and compromises I would be getting or giving!  At times my relationship with the boys seemed close and warm.

Then at times after visits with their mom, they would return cold and distant.  I was tortured with these over whelming feelings of self-pity and yearned to remember what I myself had felt in similar situations as a child.  I had spent measures on sympathizing with my bio dad and though I love him dearly, lately I had really come to appreciate Mike even more and the role he still plays to this day.  I was beginning to see things from his perception.  And then one evening, I FELT things through that same perception.

I was sitting at the dinner table somewhat wallowing in my own self sorrows due to an earlier issue with Ken’s ex.  The three boys lounged in the next room in front of the television.  Then out of nowhere I could hear my oldest step son ask his father, “Aren’t you glad we’re not sad anymore?”  “What do you mean?” Ken replied quite confused.  “You know, when Mom left we were all sad and cried all the time, but now we have April and we’re a family again.”  My eyes began to swell and my chest collapsed.  Any doubts, not good enoughs or too much’s rapidly escaped my mind.  I didn’t even know how to respond.  All I could do was think back to the last time I had ever felt so complete.  I got up and went and stood in the doorway………”I need a hug!”

Step parenting didn’t suddenly get easier in that moment and I have had some tougher mountains to climb since, but it did remind me that just as they have become a part of me, I have become a part of them.  As a Step Mom, I may not always have the moments I want with the boys, but I will always have the ones I need.  I cannot and will not ever be their mother, but I am and always will be their other!

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April honestly and lovingly shared how she treated her stepfather yet how she truly felt about him. This gives great insight into our relationship with our stepkids. Often they push us away or brag about their mom yet inside they are grateful for our consistency and for being a parent in their life. April has come full circle and her experience, love and insight is a blessing to us all. Your thoughts?

Lissie shares her story with us today. She had one of those “light bulb moments” that changed her life and her perspective. Her honest outlook will draw you in and her insight and heart will leave you feeling blessed.

A Stepmom’s Heart: Love is What Matters by Lissie

I read somewhere recently that it takes 2 to 4 years for a stepfamily to mesh and feel integrated. Part of me wishes I had read this, say, 2 to 4 years ago, and saved myself a little heartache, but there is a bigger, wiser part of me that understands it was the journey I had to walk.  

I look back on the genesis of our little family and I remember so much pain, so much adjusting. I was so hard on myself then. My stepson would push and push and my stepdaughter was this tiny little enigma and I just kept thinking something had to be wrong with me that I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of love and that every other weekend wasn’t this picture of domestic bliss, full of arts and crafts and cookies straight from the oven. Becoming a stepmom is hard under any circumstances, but because of my husband and I were rebuilding his relationship with his kids just as much as I was building one from scratch, there was just so much pressure to get everything right and to be perfect.

I honestly don’t know how I survived those first couple years. The kids’ mom was doing everything she could to stop my husband from getting his time with them back and to ruin what time he did get. My in-laws were so resentful of me being in limelight after years of playing parents to the kids while my husband struggled to put the shattered pieces of his life back together. My husband was trying to dance that dance of moving on and moving forward while being pushed down every other weekend and sometimes most of the days in between by the very person he was trying to move on from. The kids were just being kids, confused and scared and wide eyed and wanting so much for someone to just put the pieces together for them. And I was in the middle of all of this, trying to help everyone and feeling like I was failing with every single step. I was hanging on by tattered threads a lot of the time, defeated by the chaos that seemed determined to keep me from making a family out of the mess that was loving this man. I remember thinking over and over again, “this is my life now??”

But one day, something clicked. We were taking our first family vacation and my stepson, fraught with anxiety at being away from his mom and knowing she didn’t like it, had a major meltdown that at the end found him hiding under the bed in shame and me laying on the ground looking at him and crying, giving in and realizing I couldn’t be perfect, I couldn’t ever be a replacement mom, but we were still a family, for better or worse, even if the parts didn’t look the way I expected them to. I couldn’t tell you what exactly happened that day or what words I said, but I can tell you that from that day forward, the dynamic changed from four people trying to learn to occupy the same space to family of four, who experiences challenges, disappointments, happiness and sadness, but loves each other all the same. We settled into a little routine and I let go of expectations and instead started to learn what were real smiles and what was anxious and forced and what exactly it was I liked about each child and how to love them and what kind of stepmom I wanted to be.

And it’s a good thing, too, because before I knew it, they were ripped away from my husband and I, moved across the country with their mom & military stepdad and suddenly we were all alone again and living every divorced parent’s nightmare, struggling with how to be long distance parents.

There was a lot of grief to work through. We had just watched the closest thing that either of us have had to perfect slip right through our fingers like sand. We had to rebuild our lives all over again. We packed up and moved a few hours closer to family and waited for the kids’ return. I don’t know how many sleepless nights before that first trip back I spent wondering if that short time of happiness was enough, wondering if they would forget that they loved me, wondering if what we had built was lost forever.

For the longest time, I thought that the gift of being a stepmother was all about the gift of learning to love someone else’s children as my own, but that isn’t it at all. From that first trip back and every time after, when they step off an airplane and meet my eyes and love me without having seen me for months on end, I realize the gift all along has been their love. Their love tells me not only I am enough, just as I am, but I am living the life I am meant to live. It’s still hard work and it will never be perfect, but it is our life.

I was lost in my life, before I found them. I thought they would be this thing I would have to overcome or adapt to, something that would bring pain, but came along the side of finding and loving my husband. But it turns out they are my whole reason for living, the destination my life has been walking towards all this time. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be but one smile from my stepdaughter, one laugh from my stepson, and I remember, I want to be their stepmom.

am their stepmom. Through better or worse, they have me, but better yet, I have them

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Lissie has been stepmom to her two wonderful kids, age 9 and 11, for almost 6 years. Her and her husband have been married for 2, but have been a family from the start. No kids together (yet), but incredibly blessed already. They live in a peaceful, rural town on the west coast and look forward to each and every trip the kids make. You can find more of Lissie’s story at http://exceptthat.wordpress.com/ and twitter.com/exceptthat

Share how Lissie’s story touched you? Did you ever have a lightbulb moment that changed your perspective?

Sarah shares her journey into stepmotherhood and lessons learned. Her heart will bless you and her learnings are some that you can identify with. Most of us go into the land of stepmom thinking “I can do this!” only to find out that we had no clue what “this” really is. Here is Sarah’s heart:

Growing Into Stepmom by Sarah Kinbar

I fell in love with Todd before I knew his two daughters, and before he knew my son and daughter. It was (and is) an intense love, like first love. In this blissed-out frame of mind, my perspective was, shall we say, limited. I knew 100% of nothing about blended families, and in my sheer ignorance, I thought that once we were ready to introduce the kids into our relationship, if they clicked, so would everything else. If they didn’t, we’d have to have a serious conversation about whether or not we wanted to move forward with our relationship.

Our children did like each other right away. The companionship was sweet, and our get-togethers were like play dates warmed up with romance. When you love a guy, spending time with him is awesome. When you love a guy and his children, and all three are beloved by your own children, the only place to go is nowhere. You just want to be right where you are, forever.

Now that we’re living together, the friendliness between the six of us has created a fun and engaging atmosphere in our home and helps soften the edges when problems arise. Challenges unique to blended family life can appear at any time, and it was one of these that at once shattered my naivety and reminded me how much I need the loving bonds of our blended family. Giving to our family is always front of mind, but yes, I need our togetherness, our funniness and our tears. All of it.

I was almost done grocery shopping at Target on a Monday with my sleepy toddler when my cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was tight, accusatory and stern. At first I wondered if it was a wrong number. Where’s Todd? I haven’t been able to reach him. Do you know why he’s not answering his phone? Did you notice our daughter feeling unwell or having a fever over the weekend? Because she’s burning up! Why didn’t anyone call me or take her to the doctor? I would think that as a mother you would be more alert to things like this.

Well, hello! I was in the line of fire and had no idea why. No one was sick that I was aware of. What fever? Todd was on a long flight, so I couldn’t redirect the call to its proper recipient.

An angry phone call from his ex was in itself a small thing, until it became more calls, and then a sweeping, negative view of my mothering skills.

Looking back, I now think it’s slightly cute that I believed everything would click so long as our children did. Feeling strong and confident as a mother, I didn’t realize that the stepmom role isn’t as straightforward. Developing a relationship with Todd’s children opened me up to criticism I wasn’t familiar with or comfortable with. I’ve had to become much stronger, and much more willing to manage conflict for the sake of love.

Mother’s Day is coming up. On that day, I’ll be working at the flower shop that day, apart from my kids and step kids. As I’m making flower arrangements for moms all around town, I’ll be thinking about the strength and love that a blended family mom must embody, and thinking of ways I can grow more fully into this role.

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Sarah Kinbar and her partner Todd Ristorcelli live in Orlando, Florida, with their four children. They share custody with their exes. Sarah’s son is 10 and her daughter is 4 1/2. Todd’s older daughter is almost 9 and his younger daughter is 5. Keep up with the family at bigblendedfamily.com or on Twitter @bigblendedfam

Today’s post comes from Meghan. Her words will move you. Her heart will inspire you. And her journey will give you insight on the blended family journey. I am honored to share Meghan and the beautiful beginnings of her blended family.

The Beginning of My Blended Family by Meghan

My blended family story doesn’t start the day I married my husband. My story starts when I was a young child, adopted into a wonderful family. I grew up feeling nothing but love from my parents and siblings, but always felt I was missing a piece of my puzzle. When I was a teen, my biological mother came back into my life, causing much chaos. She herself was not stable, and even though she completed my puzzle, it was a puzzle full of hurt and confusion. Part of this confusion was caused because of my loyalty to both of my mothers. I felt drawn to my biological mother, and felt confused by the pain my relationship with my biological mother caused to the mother who had raised me. Even when my biological mother caused me pain, there was still this part of me that desperately wanted a relationship with her. This situation has given me a lot of insight into what being a step-child must feel like.

When I married my husband I was thrilled to gain his three children, two girls and one boy who were at the time 13, 12, and 9. He shares custody with their mother who remarried one month after our wedding. Even when the kids’ mother speaks badly of us, or tries to cause problems in our relationship with the children, I remind myself of the pain I saw in my adoptive mother, and try to be compassionate . I have a wonderful relationship with my step-kids and I know that must be hard for her. I go out of my way to not make the kids “choose” a side. Always encouraging them to love their mom, even when she has done hurtful things to me. I want the kids to have the best relationship possible with their mother. I personally know how hard it is to be in the middle, and it is my goal that the kids will be able to look back and see that I did my best to let them love all of us without guilt.

Being a stepmom has taught me more than I could ever imagine. I am learning to love a difficult person, who goes out of her way to make my life hard, but also gave my husband the incredible gift of his children. I am learning that kids change your life, and there is nothing in the world better than a hug from my step-kids, who are now 15, 14, and 11. Most importantly, I am learning that even though being a stepmom can be hard, at times lonely, and many days a battle, it is also very rewarding. I would not trade my blended family for anything.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23

Meghan joined the stepmom community in her mid-twenties when she married Fred in 2011. She was blessed with three stepchildren, two girls who are now 15 and 14, and one boy who is 11. Fred and Meghan share custody of the children with Fred’s ex-wife. They live in Maumelle, Arkansas. They are all very involved in church and school activities and enjoy anything that involves spending time as a family. You can connect with Meghan on Twitter at @lrning2BSmom

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Meghan’s insights are profound? Do you find yourself taking the high road with your husband’s ex for the kids’ sake? Loyalty issues can run deep in a child. Share the gift Meghan’s words have brought to you. Thanks.

This is the first post in the second edition of The Gift of StepMom Collection. I started this series last year and the response was amazing. Reading stories from other stepmoms encouraged and inspired many. This year, I have had so many wonderful stories submitted that I’ll be sharing a different one each day leading up to Mother’s Day!

It is so true, stepmoms are the heart of their blended family and it’s important that we celebrate our role and the gifts we bring to those we love. I am honored to share this heartfelt piece by Kim Hartsock. I am grateful and blessed to have connected with Kim via Twitter. Please enjoy her Gift of Stepmom:

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I never thought I would end up divorced, a single mother, remarried and now a stepmom. I know the Bible says that God declared ‘I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’. That tells me that no matter our choices in life, ultimately God’s plan comes through.

I believe that some of us choose shorter or longer paths to those plans but in the end, we live out God’s plan for our life. I believe that God’s plan for me is to be a wife to the love of my life, Steven, and to be a mom to Caroline, Benjamin and Sullivan. I strive everyday to be the wife and mother that they all deserve. It isn’t always easy but it is the most rewarding job I have. 

The definition of ‘mother’ is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child or supplied the ovum that united with a sperm that grew into a child. When I think about Mother’s Day, I think how grateful I am for my mother, her mother and for all of the amazing women in my life who have in some way influenced my life. That is a very long list! I also think about how grateful I am for the 3 beautiful children God has blessed me with. I only gave birth to one of those but that doesn’t change the fact that they are my children.

My son has a stepmom and I am grateful for her. She loves him and plays a very active role in raising him. I do not feel threatened by her and I definitely do not wish she was not in his life. My son did not ask for his father and I to get a divorce. This was the life we chose for him. My acceptance of his stepmom is in a way, my way of helping to make his broken home complete. And equally am I thankful for our other kids’ mother.

When I married their father, I was not replacing their mother but rather agreeing to become a part of their already formed family. Steven and I chose each other, part of us was our children. Our wedding wasn’t just between the two of us, it was between the five of us. That is a big reason why all five of us stood at the alter with the minister and made our vows to each other and to God.

I believe we are a family. Granted our children have larger families than most. I don’t think it’s better or worse, just different from some other families. Each family has its own dynamics. Ours includes stepmoms and stepdads.

I believe that love makes a family. Our family is full of love. Our children are loved. They are growing up seeing two people live out their vows on a daily basis. So when I celebrate Mother’s Day, I celebrate the love my mother showed me and the love my children’s mothers show them. I don’t think it matters whether or not that title has the word ‘step’ in it or not.

So when you set out to celebrate the mothers in your life, think about the sacrifices these ladies make each and every day for the children they are raising and celebrate the love it takes to commit to that responsibility.

Here’s to all of the amazing women out there that God has chosen to be mothers!

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Kim Hartsock (@kimsock) is a CPA in Atlanta, GA. She and her husband, Steven, have three beautiful children (aka the Lil Socks). Kim is passionate about blended families and encouraging women, especially stepmoms. She also serves as Treasurer and board member of the Susan G Komen for the Cure Greater Atlanta.

 

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