This post is for the steps. I have met some amazing step-parents during social media networking and time in prayer groups. I have heard so many journeys and so many hardships. I have been there to listen to a step vent and also to pray with them when they have felt lost. No matter your step experience, there is always a relatable love. I have learned a lot about love through these exchanges, shared experiences, and even through some of the horror stories.
Some steps may be like me and didn’t have many steps to take before being thrown head-first into their roles. Maybe you went from 1 to 4 kids overnight. Maybe you had a more strategic placement. Maybe you have never been unsure about your role.
Maybe you understand what it is like to love child like your own and to want to show up and support them like your own. Maybe you have been told that your level of participation is overstepping boundaries or is inappropriate since you are not a parent. Maybe after taking a step back or choosing the backseat in order to respect those boundaries, you were told that you didn’t care enough or were not even trying. Maybe you feel as though your every move will be ridiculed. Maybe you can’t understand why.
Maybe you have been trying to master the delicate and intricate steps to the ever-changing dance of step-motherhood. You’ve tried not to be too good at it and not to be bad at it either. Maybe you feel as though no one is keeping time and the beats change with every dancer. Perhaps you have wondered if you have any steps at all. Maybe you have learned not to worry about anyone, but the child you love.
Maybe you’re the step that does it all. Maybe your in-home support system is lacking. Maybe your bonus kid doesn’t live anywhere else, but your house. Maybe you are grateful to provide the safe haven. Maybe you’re tired or burnt out and wondering when someone else will take the wheel. Maybe you are expected to do all the parental, grunt work, but can never have a reaction or an opinion. Maybe your opinion is as valued as your labor.
Maybe you have a thousand helping hands. Maybe you have a co-parent’s dream. Perhaps when you call for help, an army arrives at your door. Maybe the only words ever said about you are both true and kind. Maybe there is always a seat at the table for you to join. Maybe someone is grateful to have you and appreciates both your devotion and your love for their child.
Perhaps you never have to lift a finger. Maybe you only see your bonus kid a few times a month or never have them overnight. Maybe you’re never really inconvenienced by a sick day or asked to join a parent-teacher conference. Maybe you never have to handle bath time or homework. Maybe you never have to dry their tears or navigate their tantrums. Maybe you really want to. Maybe you do not know how to ask.
Maybe you are constantly compared to someone you’ll never be or someone you never aimed to be. Maybe you were always accepted and welcomed. Maybe you feel invisible or stabbed in the back. Maybe you’re the one to blame for anything that goes wrong. Maybe you had in-laws to win over or maybe you know you’ll never be good enough.
Maybe blending wasn’t easy. Maybe your biological babies get jealous. Maybe you miss the alone time with your children. Maybe they’re all thick as thieves. Maybe they all know they belong. Perhaps you’re a master and perhaps you’re just beginning.
Your situation may be full of ease or full of trial. Your role may have evolved and it may have stayed the same. Regardless of how hard you may feel you have it or how easy you feel your workload is, being a step is challenging. You constantly wonder what your place is. You wonder if you even matter or if you have shown the children that you care.
You show up to endless court dates or school plays. You pack lunches and pack for vacations. You know better than to be in too many of those posted vacation photos for you know you or the child may be eaten alive if you look too happy. You make sure that clothes go back to the other house and try not to get annoyed when the ones you bought never return.
It feels petty or exhausting. You wonder how the kids feel. You wonder if you’re doing right by them, but also if you’re doing right by Mama. No matter the animosity or strife, you hope to accomplish both. You are constantly in a gray area. You do not even know where you belong some days.
This role can feel like you’re a victim or a martyr. Don’t bite that bait. It will only drag you under. This position can feel like parental purgatory or like no one really knows what to do with you, where to place you, or what to call you. You likely did not seek this out. Your life plan probably didn’t include children who already had parents, but you find the joy and find the blessing.
Step-Mama, I love you and I know you. Sometimes we have to find our own sunshine in our roles full of gray. Some days are easy and fun and other days make you wish you could pack up your belongings and move to some remote island. Your role is totally optional, but you still choose this position every single day.
You take the punch and smile through it. You take the long-awaited hug or “thank you” and store it in the deepest room of your heart. You find hope in her handshake or kind word. You find support when he holds your hand or tells you that you’re both needed and appreciated. You get knocked over and sometimes even kicked until you feel unrecognizable. You get back up, dust yourself off, and remember who God says you are.
Step-Mama, you matter. You are loved and needed. You are wanted and adored. You may even make Mom’s life easier. You’re the unexpected ally of biological parents. You may be an answered prayer or a devine plot twist, but He put you in this story for a reason.
God created a team of people to love these children. He found solutions, hearts, and extra hands that He knew they would need. God called you to this home. He called you to this marriage. You may be the undeserving, second-chance. You may be a symbol of His grace and favor.
God loves in such a selfless way that we will never be able to perfectly imitate. Your position may be training you to love more like He does. He may be molding you in a way that requires you to lean on Him through the hardest days. He may be building in you a heart of faith and a heart that better knows His love.
We do not know what the plan is or where the road may lead, but we do know that this was part of the plan. It was part of the grand design. You were called. Find peace in His plans. Find comfort in His promises. Find joy in His love. Even gray doesn’t have to be gray, sweet girl.
2 Peter 1:10-11
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.