Today I had the pleasure of watching my step-daughters sing and dance at the culmination of their musical theatre class. When I went up to the instructor to thank her, she asked, “How are you related to the girls?”
“I’m their step-mother.”
The instructor simply smiled and nodded.
Driving home I pondered the varied responses I receive when I say “I’m their step-mother.” As you can imagine, the facial expressions range from “poor you” to “ah potential wicked step-mother” to “you must be a saint.” I have to say, in my specific case, I don’t find any of these types to be true. While our culture tells have a variety of stories about “the step-mother”; while the role is complex at its easiest; while it certainly isn’t how I pictured my life, I have to say that this role of step-mother is a precious teacher.
I don’t think any of other roles have challenged me to be as honest with myself about me. It’s easy to say that you love unconditionally, and trust God in the process, I have found practicing not so easy. And step-mothering has afforded me the opportunity to practice this palms wide-open love regularly. Whether it be admitting to myself that I am not the parent, so my husband takes that primary role, or waiting for the girls to initiate hugs, this step-mothering business asks me to love with no strings attached. When I turn that offer down, the reflection I see reminds me just how conditional my loving can be. Honestly, being a step-mother has been one of the most challenging, most humbling, and most fulfilling roles I have said yes to. For me, it is a calling.