The Spirituality of Step-Mothering

Cinderellas-Evil-Stepmother-2Today 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.

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