Plopping down on the couch with my hand to my forehead, I wonder about a million different things. I wonder if I made an impact with every child in the house today. I wonder if I fussed too much or if I played enough. I worry the girls won’t ever get along and the boys won’t ever listen. I wonder about their futures. What will they be in the world? Are we setting them up for success to be good hearted adults? This is how every day feels with four children in the house.
Our interesting dynamic is that three of the four were not birthed by me. The other more interesting, and sometimes more challenging dynamic is that they also have different mothers. That means different communication standards and different expectations. That means praying that I do right by three other women.
I have been so blessed. I have seen movies where step children test their step mothers. They are mean and difficult and it almost feels like an initiation. That is not the truth of my family. If the children were ever resistant to me, I never once felt it. They have always been so open and kind and wonderful. They love their little brother. I honestly barely remember what it was like before there were four children in my home. I think they were always meant to belong to me in some way.
I love my son fiercely. I mean, stop a bullet, knock down a mountain, run to the ends of the Earth kind of love for my little boy. I love my step children in that same way. I would do anything in this world to secure the safety and happiness of those four kids. But, as and step parent, there’s red tape. There are rules and boundaries and even though you love them deeply, you have to be mindful at all times.
Cue the bewilderment. Parenting is one of the highest callings. It is full of such an impossible and enormous love. I often distress over whether or not I am even any good at it.
And then enters God’s reassurance in the form of a 7 year old girl reading aloud in the bathtub. He is there in a 12 year old singing hymns beside you in the choir…BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO!! God encourages you by a 3 year old holding your hand and telling you 50 times that “he loves you all day.” God is patting you on the back when the four year old holds your cheeks and says, “You’re a good Stephanie. This is bestdaytastic.”
Philippians 4:6 says: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
So this morning, as I plop down on the couch, coffee in hand, I look around. I see a doll house in my living room and have stepped on at least 2 matchbox cars. I see this couch where I watch cartoons each morning with my son. Where I tickle my youngest step daughter. The couch the oldest does her homework and the wild man 4 year old performs his best stunts. All I can do is smile.
I realize that I have been given the biggest blessings I will ever receive. There is no greater honor than helping to raise children. With every blessing there is a burden and a challenge. That’s true with any blessing. The greatest realization in parenting in Christ is knowing that I don’t have to look in, I only need to look up.