Sometimes step-mothering feels like it could be an amusement park ride. It has the twists and turns, climbs and chasms of an old wooden coaster. I would be lying if I said I always love the thrill of the ride. I don’t. Honestly, sometimes I find myself feeling as turned about and inside out as I do after getting off an amusement park ride.
Take this weekend. It’s the second week of Advent. (Or in the girls’ minds—it’s 18 days until Christmas.) Snow is in the forecast. Our calendar is packed with what could be labeled “good old fashioned Griswold family fun.” From starting with a sleepover, to traveling through cookie baking with friends, and coasting to a close with family snow fun, these are all wonderful. I love them. But throw a holiday hair-pin turn in there. And the rickety-speed that accompanies “blended family life” (there’s a reason the term involves a lot of shaking around), and you get one high-energy, action-packed ride.
Anyone who has been to Hershey Park with me knows, I like rides in small palatable doses. I enjoy the Comet—from the ground. I delight in waving and smiling at my beloveds on the ride. Sitting on the ride with my beloveds—not so much. The sensory overload combined with the lack of control isn’t always my first choice for fun. In fact, it’s more like the ride provides practice for spiritual disciplines like letting go and letting God. Like recognizing that feeling in my stomach can be excitement or fear—it’s my brain that chooses. Like remembering that I, like my beloveds, am along for the ride.
When I’m honest, I can say—this term amusement is bogus. It isn’t always so amusing. The same can be true of step parenting. It isn’t always amusing. Many moments it’s tough, and some days it’s down right over-whelming. Just when I find myself wondering, what’s next, the girls surprise me. After an evening of over-tired and over-sugared girls, I found myself counting the moments until bedtime. And praying that it would be that—bed. Shortly after tuck-in, I heard my step-daughters humming themselves to sleep with Christmas carols. It’s like the wind in my hair on a roller coaster. Grace whooshes all around me. I can let go of the handlebars, raise my hands in the air, and tilt my head back to enjoy the ride.