Today is Mother’s Day. One of my favorite days of the year mostly because I have the most incredible mother in the world to look up to and because being a mom is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. This Mother’s Day I am going to write about something a little different, something that needs to be said more I think. Today I want to write about Step-Mom’s.
Last Tuesday I attended the event that my mother-in-law spoke at called Listen To Your Mother. Here is a blog post which is an excerpt from that. It’s on Mothers and Step-Mothers. Sitting there listening to her speak brought me to tears for more than one reason.
The first reason that this woman speaking touched me so deeply was I listened to her speak as a mother, a mother who had to share her daughter with another woman.
When my daughter was four years old her dad got remarried. My daughter was now intimately exposed and influenced by another woman. A woman I had no control over, A woman who did things her own way. A woman who had her own baggage attached to every decision she would be making. Being a mom was hard but the thing that kept me going was the bond I had with my Jayah. She was part of me and I was a part of her.
At first I was overwhelmed with fear because I had no idea how this new woman, who didn’t have a physical bond with my daughter, would deal with my daughter when she was frustrated. When Jayah cried at night for comfort would this woman comfort her or be mature enough to not get jealous when her dad did? Would this woman resent her because she reminded her of me and past life her new husband was a part of? What about when Jayah did something wrong would this woman discipline her in a loving way with an aim to teach her and not just punish her?
Then there were the other fears, what if Jayah liked her new mom more than me? What if she cooked better, did her hair better and was more “fun” than I was? Would I be able to compete with this new woman? From the time I was little all I wanted to be was a mother and now it felt like that was being take from me, my little girl wasn’t just mine anymore. Jayah now had a new Mother.
I was blessed, Jayah was blessed. We continue to be blessed. Not only does Heather, Jayah’s step-mom, respect me as Jayah’s mother, she genuinely cares for and loves Jayah. She looks out for her and comforts her and uses her gifts and resources to bless her. We feel sorrow together when Jayah has a hard day, and we celebrate together when Jayah succeeds. Not every day is easy with Heather, we don’t always agree, but I love her and I trust her.
The second that kept crossing my mind while listening to the speaker on Tuesday was, I must be really difficult for Michelle to deal with. Michelle is the mother Shawn’s first two children Quinn and Sienna, my step-children.
When I first married Shawn I felt like I made attempts to communicate with Michelle and help ease her discomforts of a new woman in her children’s life. I know I most likely fell short. Perhaps for many reasons the relationship I hoped for, the kind of relationship I had built with Heather seemed very out of reach with Michelle. So even though I tired I know I didn’t fully understand what Michelle was going through and how hard it was to have me step in and take on the role of Mother half the time with her children.
Being a step-mom is hard, it’s really really hard. Since marrying Shawn I found so much respect for Heather and my own step-mother because trying to love and care for another woman’s children when those children flat out reject you is the biggest challenge I have ever come up against.
I have read books, and blogs and articles, I’ve gone to counseling and done bonding activities and prayed and prayed and prayed and still Quinn and Sienna don’t and may never love me.
Some days they like me, most days they tolerate me and then there are the days where they reject and disrespect me.
I am not going to lie being a step-mom can hurt, it can hurt really bad. But I don’t cook them dinner, do their laundry, help them with homework, plan birthday parties, spend hours driving them around because I want them to love me. I do all these things because Sienna and Quinn deserve to be in a loving home and environment 100% of the time. They didn’t choose for their parents to split up. Just like Jayah didn’t choose for me and her dad to get divorced. Yet they are the ones that it affects the most.
I can honestly say I love Quinn and Sienna in spite of how difficult they can be for me. Part of that love is because I love Shawn with my whole heart and they are a part of him. Part of that is because they are brother and sister to and share blood with one of my own children, Henry. And part of that love comes from those rare little moments where we really connect. When Sienna crawls on my lap and asks me to sing to her or when Quinn opens the door for me just to be a gentleman
After Tuesday’s emotional roller coaster and as today is Mother’s Day I feel I need to express this to the two woman I share motherhood with.
I know your job is hard. I know some days your patience is tired, thank you for digging deep to find it. I know your resources are limited, thank you for sharing them. I know your house is messy and laundry room is full of little girl’s clothes, thank you for washing them. I know your gas tank is empty, thank you for driving Jayah to gymnastics. I know it’s frustrating to cook dinner after spending all day at work only to hear how much she hates it, thank you for making her eat her broccoli. I know you haven’t had a good night sleep in weeks, thank you for letting Jayah crawl in bed next to you and knee you in the back all night. I know Jayah whines and cries, thank you for following through, not giving in and teaching her.
I love you, Heather. Thank you for loving Jayah, just because she deserves to be loved.
You may always reject me, Quinn and Sienna may never love me but I promise you as long that as I have interactions with Quinn and Sienna in whatever capacity that is I will never act towards them in a way that I wouldn’t want Heather acting towards Jayah. I will follow Heather’s example, I will work hard for them, I will respect them and you. Every morning I will continue to wake up and pray for God to guide me and fill me with love for you and your kids. I will continue to pray that God will help you see that I honestly love your kids with no benefit to me.
I love them, Michelle, because your kids deserve to be loved.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!