So, most of my life, I have been told I am different, I march to the beat of a different drum. Sometimes, that was a good thing, sometimes it wasn’t meant as a compliment, and that is ok.
Today, I can say , “Some things never change.” Oh, I have changed, but my individuality and unique personality are pretty much still intact. I have a few aspects of my life others “scoff at.” One, I am considered a “Christian Fanatic” and the changes that have come about in my life appear to be odd to many. For me, they are victories I have overcome through Christ. I think that is a nice way of saying, I make conscious choices to “not choose sin.” Now, while improved, those quick thinking, pop in my head, unfiltered, sinful thoughts, well, I am still working on those, and I know with God’s help they will keep improving.
The second thing I get many comments from is my relationship with my children’s mother. Yes, you read correctly. I have four step-children and my relationship with their mom is a pretty awesome thing.
My husband and I talked for about a year, getting to know each other, our beliefs, our thoughts, just about everything, before pursuing a relationship. I was pleasantly surprised when I told him, probably in our first or second chat, that God had showed me many things and I had made a choice to become celibate until I was married, and he didn’t run the other way, but encouraged me in that choice. I knew this man was something special. One of the things that drew me to him was first of all, his love for God and Christ, and second, his love for his children. In our discussions, he would ask how I felt about their mom being part of their lives. Because this is not my first “rodeo” being a step-mom, I could honestly tell him I felt like a relationship between them and their mom was very important and I would do whatever I could to ensure they had that relationship, even if it meant her staying with us when she visited.
I realized many years ago, I would never give birth and be the mom to my own children. God gave me reassuring scripture in Isaiah 54:1-3
“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords. And strengthen your pegs. “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations. And will resettle the desolate cities.”
Wow, this woman who was not married and was barren, would have descendents. She was going to have to make her tent larger for all of the children she would have. This was a woman who would be responsible for children who were not her own. She would give them a heritage, share with them a legacy. I can tell you that over the years, I have had to lengthen my cords and strengthen my pegs. The children who have passed through my home and my classroom, have blessed me more than anyone will ever know. My prayer is in some way, above all else, they know my love for Christ and have seen an example of how God wants us to love.
Now, as for my four step-children, I can tell you I have no idea what it is like to hold my own newborn in my arms and feel the overflowing love from the depths of your heart. To look in the face of another being, created in the image of God and is part of you is foreign to me. Because of that, I don’t know if my love for them is like I would love my own. But, I do know I hurt when they hurt, I am happy when they are happy. I think of them and their needs and give up things for myself for them to have, I CARE more than anything, about the condition of their souls. I will not lie to them. I will correct them when they need to be corrected and I will protect them like a mother bear (Or country redneck woman) if ANYONE puts them in danger physically, mentally, or spiritually. I would die for them. In that aspect, I think I can safely say, “I love these four, like they are my own, and I thank God for them, everyday, good times and bad, they are blessings.”
In the process of being a step-mom, I read all about how to be a Christian blended family and what that would/could look like. Nothing I read was the idea I felt a Christian blended family should be. Nothing I read addressed a positive relationship with the parent who was not in the home. Once again, I found myself in a unique situation.
I knew from the outset I was very different from “their mom.” I knew there were choices she had made that I couldn’t understand. I knew for our children, I would have a relationship with this woman, who would be staying in our home, the home that was her home, and I wasn’t sure how it would work out.
In the beginning, I have to be honest, it was a bit stressful for me to know she was coming to visit. I never knew how things would look or how much to be “involved” with the kids while she was here. I wanted her to have time with them, but I never wanted to give up “authority” in my home. She has never asked me to, but I think most women deal with a bit of insecurity around women they are not friends with, especially if they are staying in their home. What I have found over the past 2 ½ years of being the step-mom and her visiting, is something which started out as “doing what is best for the children,” has become a blessing for me. I have learned while there are some very different ideas, there are more that are not so different, and when it comes down to it, we have so very much in common. Those deep instinctive, emotional things that really matter, that we want for our children, are the same, and in that, we have become co-moms. We have become “tag team partners” on several occasions, and more than that, we have become friends!! Not just pass-you-by acquaintances, but real friends. We have spent time talking about our pasts and really getting to know each other. We discuss the things we want for our children. I have retired from teaching to home school the children and I do everything I can to include her in that education, with her being a couple of hours away. When she visits she stays at our house, sometimes for a lengthy stay.
One of the things we had in common was “doing what is best for the children.” We both want to be a godly example of how people can work together for the common good. In that, we have become a godly example of how people form relationships, become friends, and have more than a mutual respect for each other. We actually like each other, enjoy each other’s company, and get excited planning fun things for the kids (and some not so fun things). We have been able to take situations in times of dealing with discipline of the children, come together, all three parents, and have meaningful conversations with the children from three different points-of-view. We have agreed on consequences to misbehaviors, and very different from the thought of the “evil step-mom,” I have found that she gives out much stricter consequences than I.
While she is here, we all go places together, as one, big, happy family. We often worship together. I am very happy that our church family encourages this relationship and I don’t think they have ever made her feel uncomfortable or unwanted. We have found places that people have shut her out, or don’t really know how to respond and it is quite visible. We have seen the rolled eyes, the blatant stares, the whispering, the “I just won’t talk to you because I don’t know if it is ok” attitudes. I know they are hurtful to her, and in that, I have felt hurt, too. I have had people say, “You are more of a woman than I am,” Some who have felt that it was disrespectful for my husband to even allow her to stay with us, and in every situation, I can look at them with joy in my heart and can truly say, “God has done a work in all of us. He is in this, and if he wasn’t, I would probably feel the same way you do. Our children are going to have such a rich upbringing because of this situation.” I have had others who support the idea and have encouraged us. We don’t look like the typical blended family, and that is ok!
I never know what is in the future for our children, but I hope that I have been the example of what they should be, if they are ever in a step-situation. I pray that this friendship I have with their mother is an example of what they should always be to others.
On top of all of this, for the first time, and I have had MANY children in my home, I feel like a mother is appreciative of my relationship with her children. I don’t only FEEL that, I have been told that. She has been sure to let me know how much she loves me for caring for her children, for being there for them, for doing creative, artsy, country things with them, for loving them, for sacrificing for them, and for being a Godly example to them, and for including her in decisions, situations, and enjoyable times of celebration. My husband is the most loving, caring, supportive, Godly man I have ever known. He is so encouraging all the time by telling me these very things, and for that I am truly grateful; however, there is something truly special about the mother of my children being able to share those thoughts, being able to encourage and support the job God has called me to do, that makes me even more blessed to be in this family. As her mom, the grandmother of my children says, she is my “ex-wife in-law.” I think we get along better than ex or in-law, and for that, I am truly a blessed woman.