Another Mother’s Day is coming deep sigh. It seems to come around the same time every year, doesn’t it? Before I was a stepmom, I looked forward to this “holiday” with curious anticipation. How will my boys acknowledge this day and how will my husband help them?
When Gil and I married, fourteen years ago, my seven kids (both bio and step) were between the ages of eleven and twenty-one. Once I became a stepmom, I experienced a startling level of insecurity and stress. Where did this come from? I am a pretty confident person. I’m a good mom. My step kids should think I am cool. Do they realize how much I do for them? How much I sacrifice? How much I keep my mouth shut? This should be a no-brainer. Of course, they will acknowledge my existence, send/make a card for me … right?
As this notorious holiday approached, I began to second guess myself. Hmmm. I may think I’m great, but what do they think? Reality check. Would my step kids even acknowledge that I exist? Do they see me as encouraging, loving and fun? How will I feel about them if they don’t remember me on Mother’s Day? How will I feel about myself?
I realize that I am not my stepkids’ biological mom. They have a mom. I do everything I can to support their relationship. That is an important connection that they need in their lives. As a stepmom, it’s sometimes hard to separate the mom duties from the official title of mom. Especially when you give your heart to them as if they are your own. The stepchild has the option to either accept and embrace your efforts of love or reject them…no matter their age.
I remember holding my breath, as the first few Mother’s Days came along. The same questions, insecurities, and stress were apparent. In their eyes, have I loved them well? Can they see past their pain and accept me as part of their family? On the surface, it was easy to keep it together and act like it didn’t matter. But deep down, I wondered if I would even hear from my step kids on that infamous holiday.
Sometimes I would offer to take them out to buy their mom something for Mother’s Day. It let them know that I valued their relationship with their mom. I was not the enemy. I accepted who they thought I was in their life. We were not always on the same page with this. I wanted a deeper relationship with them and wanted to be so much more a part of their life. But, I would need to remind myself that the stepkid sets the pace of the relationship with their step-parents. Forcing this fragile connection would only make it worse.
My step kids were with their bio-mom each Mother’s Day, as they should be. As my relationships grew with my step kids I was able to let go of my expectations. I had the privilege of speaking into their lives year-round. What is one day?
If they had never recognized my efforts, I at least knew that when I stand before the Lord, that I had done my best. I tried to have the Lord stand beside me with each interaction I had with my stepkids to hold me in check. There were times I did not do this well. Is what I am saying, kind and loving? Am I respecting and affirming them for who they are? I have learned that there is always room for growth in these areas.
Another Mother’s Day is coming. I don’t have a deep sigh anymore. After 14 years I have learned to not have any expectations. Now, when I receive a Mother’s Day greeting text, I consider it a win! I celebrate that and hold very dear the words they share with me. It’s hard not to have the tears well up in my eyes. Each connection with my step kids is a precious gift.
I encourage you to look for those “wins” with your step kids. Make the effort to be loving and kind. They are not the enemy. I have an idea! What if you gave them a card for Mother’s Day. Share with them how they have blessed your life! I have seven cards to get started on! How about you?