“You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.” – 1 Peter 1:2
I’ve known since I was a child that I wanted to be a mother. In fact, I yearned for the day to come. I was confident I would succeed at motherhood, so when I first learned that my husband (then boyfriend) had a son, I didn’t hesitate… I was made for this! I became a wife and a stepmom in January 2018 and I couldn’t see any obstacle that would stand in my way. We were a family and we were strong. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t do together! But, the first few months were tough on all of us.
It was a new family dynamic, all of us living together, learning our roles and working out boundaries. My expectations of being a stepmom were quickly shattered and my confidence diminished. I struggled with seemingly little things, like how to introduce my stepson to others; do I call him,‘son?’ ‘Stepson?’ Factually, he is my stepson, but emotionally, he is my son. Was it misleading to call him ‘son?’ Would he feel less than if I refer to him as stepson? What about me; who am I? Am I a real mom? Do I qualify for the mom’s group? Can I contribute to the mom chatter? I asked myself these things regularly. The“titles” seem rather minor, but it really made me question my identity and, at times, my worthiness. I was just a stepmom.
The bigger issue I struggled with was my perceived inability to build and establish a meaningful connection with my stepson. I wanted what my husband had with his son, but I felt like an outsider. I didn’t know where I fit. I found myself at times resentful of the bond my husband had with his son, because I knew it was something I would never have, not the same way – they were blood. I also knew he had a mom; I wasn’t replacing something he had lost; I was in addition to what he already had. He didn’t need me. My stepson embraced me wholeheartedly from the beginning. I struggled in public to cheer for, give hugs to, and say “I love you” to my stepson the way I wanted to – because I had been told I wasn’t his real mom. I had been silenced. I was so ashamed. I slowly disengaged. I spent time alone and told my husband he needed one-on-one time to bond… just the two of them. I felt like a failure and I didn’t know how to admit my feelings; they felt wrong and they fed the lie that I started to believe – I just wasn’t a real mother and, essentially, I was unnecessary in my stepson’s life.
I am still navigating what it means to be a stepmom, but I’ve stopped questioning whether God knew what He was doing when He placed me in this role. What I have been able to do is clearly define my role as a stepmom. My job is to love my stepson with wild abandon, to support him, teach him, and cheer him on through life. He is worthy and deserving of all the love I have for him. He deserves to hear “I love you” every time we part. My only job is to be a stepmom; I am not replacing anyone, and I am not competing with anyone. I am just a piece of his puzzle; the one God designed for him and for me. By not owning and accepting my place in his life, I was potentially fostering the same feelings of inadequacy in him that I had felt. I realized that what he needs to know is that he is also “enough.” God brought me to this place because He knew I was enough and He has patiently waited for me to figure out that I am enough, as well.
Natalie Morgan, Director of Accounts Payable