I’ve read a few stories of men who marry women with children lately. I’ve thought, how beautiful that he made it special for her daughter. They often have pictures of him proposing to the child as well as the mom. These stories are incredible and wonderful, and should always be celebrated. We have so many single mothers and children whose dads aren’t in their lives, that shining a spotlight on those men who “step in when he stepped out” should be a priority.
And what of those women who “stepped in with her” to raise his child? I married my soulmate. We push each other, test one another, and always come back to talking through “us”. 67% of second marriages with children end in divorce in the US. 67%. I can tell you firsthand how and why those 67% numbers add up. It’s the failure to communicate, the assumption of responsibility, the laziness, and cattiness that is found on all sides. It’s the selfish perspective, the burning need to be right every time. It’s the foolish mistakes and the gross misjudgment. It’s the lies. It’s the secrets. It’s the money. It’s the “rights”.
And at the end of all those battles are the behaviors of the child. The child who learned she should lie to you to protect a parent. Who learned to bury their feelings because she watched you bury yours too. The child that starts crying because she must “tell you the truth now” about how she broke her toy, but she’s crying because she doesn’t want you to be upset. The child that has seen you upset too many times. The child who won’t sleep through the night anymore because things have changed at her other home.
It’s the books you order on amazon (2 copies of course). The articles you comb the internet for and print out to read at 2AM when everyone is asleep and the dishes are done and the floors are cleaned and the laundry is folded. It’s the multiple therapists you call and interview, even though you have no authority in this realm, and you know it isn’t up to you if she goes to a good “out of network” therapist, or even if she goes at all. It’s morning self-pep talks and 5 minutes of meditation you do to steal yourself against the infuriating and undermining surprises to come that day. It’s the midday prayers to God asking to help you be a more patient and loving stepmom. It’s the long phone calls to your sisters seeking the “other perspective” to help you love those who hurt you, despite them hurting you. It’s the lunch breaks spent running to hopefully fight your own demons.
It’s being a mediator and mentor, a therapist and punching bag. It’s realizing that you aren’t here for the adults. You never committed to protecting them. It’s understanding and accepting when you must excuse yourself from their battles. Excuse yourself from being taken for granted. Excuse yourself from all their burden that they should be shouldering. It’s reminding yourself what you promised, and being ok with only meeting that promise.
A year ago, I stepped in, forever. A year ago, I promised to be the best mom I know how to be for you. I promised you won’t always like what I have to tell you, but I will always love and protect you with my whole heart and being. I promised that to me, you are mine and God has planned for us to be together forever.
I promise these again today. You are mine.
67% get caught up on the wrong sides of arguments. 67% push themselves to exhaustion doing the work of others. 67% fall apart because they are drained of all their energy and creativity and no one is replenishing that well. 67% allow others to destroy everything beautiful about them. 67% try too hard in the wrong places.
I am your stepmom. Not theirs.
Photo Credit: https://bryannewfield.com/