Raising Step-Children: Not a Competition

Mother’s Day has just passed. In this age of COVID-19, many of us didn’t see our mothers face to face, but we all hopefully still found a way to honor them.

For me, I come at motherhood with a slightly different perspective. You see, I fell in love and married a widower with two children. Thankfully, that widower had been my high school sweetheart. But that’s a story for another day.

I never take for granted that those two wonderful children (who are now grown and married) were able to open their hearts and make room for a new mother in their lives. There were many days that were difficult as I tried to make room for them to grieve, to make it easy for them to share memories of their mother, and to keep their traditions alive while trying to create our own traditions and memories. It wasn’t always easy, but these two kids were worth it. No doubt.

The fact that they both honor me on Mother’s Day is a blessing. One I treasure immensely every year. And the fact that their late mother’s family also has welcomed me and accepted me is a gift, that I continue to marvel at year after year.

There were times while my kids were growing up, when things got tough, that I tried to think what their mother, or any mother, would want for her kids. My conclusion is that she’d want someone to love them, cherish them, and care for them. To show them as fierce a love as she would give them. That was my guide as I stepped into parenthood.

I’m not trying to pat myself on the back here. My point is twofold: first, to thank my kids, and thank their grandparents, for their love and acceptance of me. Trust me, it is a treasure in my heart.

And second, for all of us to remember what can happen when we open our hearts and let love in; when we quit drawing lines in the sand, and quit putting boundaries up that keep us apart. My kids still retain the love of their mother’s family. They still have their mother in their hearts. But they made room. They made room in their hearts for me, and for my family. And by opening up, knocking down the wall of grief, they received a whole new batch of people to love them. Their family just grew. No one “replaced” anyone else. More people were added into the mix to love them.

And I received a new branch of the family as well, with my kids’ grandparents, and aunt and uncles, and cousins.

If you’re in a step-family, second marriage, have children from one parent and another — keep the walls knocked down. Don’t draw lines in the sand.

Raising children is not a competition.

It truly is amazing what happens when you tear walls down and let love in.

 

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