Every now and then (read: lots of the days) I somehow manage to lose my temper with a beautiful five year old who resembles Rapunzel. Her face looks nothing like my face, we have none of the same quirks, nor do we share the bond of blood.
She is my step daughter. I love her with every inch of my being.
But whenever I start to lose my temper because my respect button is pushed, she doesn’t want her Rapunzel hair brushed, or I feel like an outsider on a family that existed before me, I can hear a voice that is not the Voice. It says, in a snide tone, “You are not a real mom.”
On days where rooms have been cleaned, vegetables have been negotiated, outfits have been laid out, and lullabies sung, this hits me like a ton of bricks. All of the sudden I can’t breathe. The voice speaks again, “You did not birth her. Everyone knows you are illegitimate and inadequate. Real moms don’t lose it like this. Also, guess what? You will never be her mother.”
This first blog post is dedicated to the women who have silenced that voice.
I didn’t realize how much it mattered until I received an e-mail from one of our church coordinators with an invite to the Mother’s Prayer Breakfast and I burst into tears. I sobbed like a baby over the fact that somebody had acknowledged that I was also a mother. Then I realized that so many mama friends had done the same thing, and that it was holding me together like glue.
This post is dedicated to Ali, who sent me a text on Mother’s Day, when we didn’t have Nyra.
It is dedicated to Amy, who endured many dramatic text messages about HAIR THAT WAS FINALLY BRUSHED AND BRAIDED AND HOW NO ONE EVEN CRIED.
To Millie, who didn’t judge me when I said I was dying for a glass of wine and so sick of being asked “why” constantly from a tiny human.
For Emily, who encouraged me deeply the first time that Nyra got in a fight with another child, and it was hers.
For Gayla, who has little adopted ones, who told me that choosing to love is hard and good and what we were made for.
For Lisa, who told me the vital role her stepmother played in introducing her to Jesus. Tears rolling down my cheeks alone in my car, I felt a twinge of hope.
This first blog post is dedicated to my mother who patiently says over and over again, “She is a kind and beautiful child. Keep loving her, keep loving her, keep loving her.”
All of these things allow me to just. keep. going. because being a step mama is damn hard and I have been doing it for exactly six weeks.
In the book of Genesis, another desperate woman says “You are the God who sees me.” These women remind me of that Truth. When the voice that is not His says that we are not enough, He Sees us. He Sees me in all the chaos and heartbreak and confusion. He is after all, Emmanuel, God with us.