I will admit it – I was clueless… Being a stepmom has not always been as easy as I initially imagined it would be. It has probably been more work than anything else in my life. Someone once warned me that it would be impossible to love a child who “wasn’t mine.” They were wrong! Loving our girls has never been hard. It was quite natural. The hard part that no one told me was that they may not love me back.
There I was barley 20 and a stepmom to 2 girls (with 2 different mothers). We had 3 kids 6 years old and under. I was in way over my head and didn’t even realize it. I tried my best to love them unconditionally. I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes along the way. Perhaps someday they will understand that my heart was always in the right spot regardless of right or wrong.
Tim’s oldest daughter, Tiya, and I got a long great at first, but once I had to begin disciplining her & adding more children to the mix she boldly withdrew from our entire family. I never had a real opportunity to grow a deep relationship with her and to this day we are left out of most of her life happenings. I pray that someday she is able to feel our love for her and will desire to be a bigger part of our family.
My biggest heartache as a stepmom has come from our other daughter, Taylor. From the day I met her I knew she would be a challenge. She was such a stinker! I remember her crossing her arms, protesting to Tim, “She is looking at me!” Little did I know just how strong-willed she was. She loved her daddy and saw me as an intruder.
Taylor’s situation is much different, because her “real mom” has not always been able to provide a healthy environment for her so we have experienced several custody battles in which Taylor unfortunately has been placed in the middle of each time. After winning & sharing, we eventually lost our custodial rights in court. Our funds were depleted and we were not sure where God was leading us so we stopped fighting and had no choice but to allow Taylor’s mom to move 45 minutes away from us with her.
After a few years of living with her mom, we became very concerned about Taylor’s well being & questioned the safety of her environment. I began to diligently pray for her to return living with us. I asked God to make it clear to us if this was a battle He was sending us into fight and if He would make it as easy as possible for her to return home (without returning to another court battle). After a few short months of praying Taylor’s mom unexpectedly gave her to us. She willingly signed custody back to Tim & Taylor was back HOME.
The “homing process” was not so easy, especially considering it was our first year homeschooling as well. Tim worked long hours, leaving me to the majority of the discipline. It was a lot of work and tears trying to undo the unhealthy choices she had learned while with her mom – lying & jealousy were our biggest issues and were not something we could ignore. I’m sure from the outside I looked like a harsh mean controlling stepmom, but truly I loved her & wanted more for her. I knew she needed discipline, structure, and routine (whether she liked it or not).
Although we experienced a great deal of rough days, weeks, and months, we also bonded along the way & made wonderful memories together. I really tried to never put Taylor’s mom down or talk bad about her. Looking back I am not sure if I did her justice by this or not. It is a fine line between pointing out the wrongs in a person and pointing out the wrong decisions a person makes. While Taylor was young Tim & I tried to shield her from as many of her mom’s mistakes and ungodly choices as we could, but as she got older by doing that she began to think that lifestyle was acceptable – in fact desirable. Enter the pre-teen years! Suddenly, our house was controlling & a miserable place for her and in her fantasy life things would be perfect if she could just (here they are, the words every blended family dreads hearing) “go live with my real mom.” We tried everything. Counseling, enrolling her in public school, hobbies, tough love, you name it we tried it. Then the day came . . . Francis Chan said,
“It’s true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that He didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace…God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
And that is exactly where we were when Taylor left to go back to live with her mom – trouble if God doesn’t come through for us. Letting her go was one of the most difficult things I had done at that point. I was devastated. I felt betrayal and broken heartedness like never before. God spoke to me throughout the first few weeks of her abrupt departure. He assured me that HE was who I was really entrusting Taylor to & reminded me to be still & know that HE was God. We were still for nearly two long years of rarely seeing or even hearing from her. We watched a bad situation grow worse from afar and trusted God would bring her home (and more than anything want to be home and seek a living a life for him and not the world). During that time of waiting I learned that God loves her so much more than I ever could. I learned to accept His plan, without understanding. I realized that He would reveal all His glory when the time was right.
July of last year Taylor came home and has made a huge transformation. Praise God! I am not sure if I will ever get the stepmom thing down. I am so imperfect, but more than anything I pray she knows how much I love her. How much I really love her. Like she were my own. And that is why – I have loved her enough to set expectations, battled disciplining her, and continued to unceasingly pray for her spiritual relationship with God more than anything.