Mother’s Day is Coming: How Will You Celebrate as a Stepmom?

In honor of Mother’s Day in 2011, Heather Hetchler and I put together an e-book of encouraging stories written by stepmoms for stepmoms. We offered the book, Stepping with Purpose, to bring hope to stepmoms who often have a difficult day on Mother’s Day.

Stepping with Purpose as a Stepparent

The ebook is still available on my website and Heather’s,  but for the next few weeks  I want to post some stories from the book. I hope you find encouragement from them as we approach Mother’s Day.

Acceptance by Jackie Brown

 There are many events in our lives that are life changing; marriage, childbirth, divorce, death and remarriage. I remarried in October 2006 and I became an “instant full-time stepmom” in February 2008. My husband and I received a phone call on the way home from a beach trip in late February 2008 informing us that my stepdaughter’s mother was in the hospital with heart problems and may not live through the night. Hope’s mother passed away four months later.

My dreams did not consist of being a full-time stepmom at this time of my life. My sons were grown, and raising a child again was a very devastating thought to me. I was still a newlywed and had plans and dreams of traveling with my husband and spending time together. I was also used to going and coming as I wanted. My husband works in the evenings so I had “me” time while he was at work to do things that I wanted to do.

Having a stepchild come into your home to live is very challenging. There can be a war of wills since everyone is adjusting to different lifestyles. I realized my stepchild was entering a different environment in which she had to abide by different rules, habits and traditions. I learned to be patient.

Having my stepdaughter 24/7 was not what I planned. My life became a roller coaster of angry, sad, unhappy, and at times, depressed feelings. The reality is that “I” suffered a loss too … a loss of the way things were and the way I wanted them to be. I learned firsthand that there are many things you have to accept in the role of being a full-time stepmom:

Accept that your time, space and privacy are different than they once were.

Accept that being a stepmom is unfair and lonely at times.

Accept that you may not see the fruits of your sacrifices until the stepchildren become adults.

Accept that there will be many sacrifices that go unnoticed.

After some time and crying out to God, I realized that I had to ACCEPT these circumstances. In the dictionary, acceptance is the “willingness to receive or to welcome.” To accept, you have to believe. You have to come to terms with a reality and choose to live in spite of it. Acceptance has been (and still is at times) a huge battle for me. Here are some things that have helped me through this:

First, I firmly believe this is God’s will for my life at this time. I know without a doubt this is not an accident. I feel that I was put in Hope’s life and she was put in my life for a reason that only God knows. There have been times that I questioned the why’s, but I’m trying to live with acceptance and faith.

Accept this time in your life and take the steps needed to honor God in this. Trust God in ALL areas of your life.

Second, have a plan or a vision about your relationship with your stepchildren. think about your impact and influence on the child today and how it will impact them later in life. What you put into this relationship is what you will get out of it. Spend time with them developing traditions just the two of you have together and traditions as a family. My stepdaughter and I do a Bible study together at Starbucks. It gives us both a time of talking and getting to know each other.

Be yourself with your stepchild and realize that you and her are different. Develop a relationship of trust, love, and guidance.

Give the relationship time to develop. It will not happen overnight. Have patience during this time.

Third, take time alone to unwind, release and relax doing what you enjoy doing – hobbies, exercise, blogging, journaling. Do whatever releases stress for you. Don’t keep stress bottled up. Also, make time to spend alone with your spouse. Have a regular date night without the children.

Finally, have a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. Don’t expect things to be perfect. Enjoy this time in your life with all the ups and downs and struggles and rewards that come with a stepmom.

In closing, understand that life is just hard at times. As women, we juggle the responsibilities of wife, mom, stepmom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and employee. Yes, it is scary and unpredictable at times. Recently, my mom told me that I should be honored and humbled that God chose me to be Hope’s stepmom.

Yes, I’m honored and humbled that God chose me. In doing so, He is teaching me to be more like Him. How awesome is that!! And now, I continue on the journey!

Jackie Brown said “I do” for the second time in 2006 to a wonderful man of God. She has two sons, 25 and 28, and step-daughter, 16.

What has been difficult for you to accept as a stepparent? I would love to hear your comments.

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  1. sue
    sue says:

    One of the hardest parts about becoming a stepmom is that I eventually became invisible. When we first got married, the kids called me Mom and were thrilled to have a mother in their lives again. The two youngest couldn’t even remember a time when their bio mom lived in their home. A few years later, their bio mom moved back to the area and put a stop to everything good in our relationship. Right away there was no more calling me Mom. Over the years that extended to no more being nice to me and, in most cases, no more acknowledging me in any way whatsoever.

    My husband and I have been married for eleven years, and the youngest (twins) are in the service and in college. The kids no longer call the house; they call my husband’s cell. My phone calls are not answered. My e-mail and voice mail messages are never returned. My gifts, cards, etc. go unacknowledged. I receive no birthday or Christmas wishes or gifts from them, not even when they are with us on those occasions. They give gifts to their dad, for which I am grateful, but it’s as if I’m not even there.

    A few weeks ago, we all got together to celebrate spring birthdays. When the last carload arrived, our grandchildren ran right past us and to their great-grandparents to hug and greet them and tell them all their news. My heart broke a little more because it seems that I am invisible to the next generation as well.

    The other day, my step-daughter’s boyfriend brought a gift to my husband, something he picked up on a recent visit home. He apparently can’t see me either.

    Everyone says that things will change when the kids are older, that we’ll be closer, that they will appreciate my love and all I’ve done for them and how I’ve been there for them through the years, but if anything, I’ve only become more invisible.

    My husband’s ex verbally and emotionally abused him and the children for years before she finally walked out on them because she claimed she never got to be a teenager. She had been having another very public affair, this time with a married truck driver, and wanted to be free to travel the open road with him. My husband was alone for four years–a single dad with seven of nine children still at home when I met him. I did not have anything to do with the breakup of their marriage. As far as I can tell, the only thing I’m “guilty” of is loving this man and his children and trying to help them become all that God created them to be.

    Mother’s Day is not for me. I cannot have children, and my stepchildren and stepgrandchildren don’t want me. My husband and I will celebrate the day with one or both of our mothers, whom we are blessed to still have in our lives.

  2. Step Parenting with Grace
    Step Parenting with Grace says:

    Sue, it breaks my heart as I read this. Unfortunately, we are indispensable as stepparents and sometimes it doesn’t get better, even when the kids get older. I wouldn’t give up on forming relationships with your stepgrandchildren though. Unless they are being painted an ugly picture by their parents, there’s no reason why they can’t have a relationship with you and your husband. Maybe you can be the one to instigate having them over or creating a way to spend special time with them.

    God sees your heart and what you have done for your stepchildren. Pray for renewed relationships. Pray for your grandchildren to have a desire to enter into a relationship. Don’t give up. Life has a funny way of turning things around sometimes.

    I love Laura Story’s song, Blessings. After her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor she found a new meaning for Blessings. Here are some of the words:

    “We pray for blessings,
    We pray for peace
    Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
    We pray for healing, for prosperity
    We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
    And all the while, You hear each spoken need
    Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

    ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
    What if Your healing comes through tears?
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
    What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

    You can hear the song here: The lyrics are beautiful.

    I’m praying for you and your family. Thank you for your comment.


  3. sue
    sue says:

    Thanks, Gayla. I love this song. I know deep down that God put me here for a purpose, and I don’t plan to stop trying to have a relationship with my husband’s children or our grandchildren.

    But? The day-to-day reality of being part of a family that doesn’t seem to want me gets to me sometimes, especially on the holidays and other occasions that are supposed to be about love and family. You can only hug so many wooden planks before you stop trying.

    I keep putting myself out there and keep getting hurt. I beat myself up wondering what I’ve done (or not done) to make them act as they do. I find myself adjusting my words and behaviors to narrow the chance of being rejected or shot down.

    Maybe it will get better, and maybe it won’t. I just need to learn how to deal in the most healthful way possible for me.

  4. Step Parenting with Grace
    Step Parenting with Grace says:

    Sue, You are right. It’s hard to predict if it will get better or not. And it may not have anything to do with you. But God is still in control and will walk the difficult journey with you. I love to hear from you. Keep me posted.