I used to believe that there was no more challenging job on earth than being a mommy. I also believe that there is no job more rewarding. I used to think that nothing could stretch my limitations, test my strength, or ask more of me that being a parent. And then I fell in love. I fell in love with this beautiful, spirited, silly little girl and her daddy. I became a step-parent. And, with that, I realized that being a mommy wasn’t the most challenging thing I would ever do. Being a step parent was.
My views of parenting were much different that her father’s. My views on discipline were much different from her father’s. Ultimately the decision was his, but I also had a child that was effected by those decisions. We had to work very hard to come to compromises that both of us could be happy with. We had to evaluate everything we thought we knew in the context of our combined family. Both of our children had to go through some changes. We are still learning and it is, and probably always will be, a work in progress.
For Isaiah’s whole life, I had been working with his father to schedule holidays, special events, and visitation times. We had, for the most part, gotten things down to a science. We still have days where all of that is difficult, just not very many. Now there was another parent to schedule things with. There was another set of family members and special events. We now have to schedule holidays with each of our families, plus each of our children’s other parents. I love Christmas, but it certainly gives me a headache now.
Then there are many of the same challenges that each of our children present me with. Am I making the right decisions for them? Am I modeling marriage well enough? Am I teaching them how to be individuals? Am I teaching them to stand up for themselves? Am I showing them how much I love them? Am I being fair? Am I giving them memories they will cherish? Am I fulfilling this call of parenthood the way I’m supposed to? Am I helping to raise little people who will grow up into successful adults?
But then there’s the other side. The part where I love that little girl just like she were my own. The part where I miss her so badly when she’s not with us. The part where it is so important to me that she knows how important she is to our family, even though she’s not with us as much as we would like. The part where I am so thankful to get to watch the sibling relationship develop between her and Isaiah. The irreplaceable laughter and light that she brings to our family. The beauty and magic that she brings to our home.
Until I met her, I never knew what we were missing. She is one of the best parts of my world. I thank God every day that I get the opportunity to love her.
To all of you who are good step-parents – I raise my glass to you for stepping in and choosing to love a child that isn’t your own as if they were.