I looked at the calendar today (March 30th) and I instantly remembered. Today marks one year since my bonus kid, Kendall, came to live with us full-time. The circumstances that led her here were awful. If it were up to me, I would share all of the gory details, but out of respect for my man and my family, I will spare you the details. Just know that it was ugly.
And when I think back on that time, I am flooded with emotion - frustration being at the top of the list of emotions.
Can I be honest with y'all for a second? I wasn't prepared. When she came to live with us, I was about 4 weeks postpartum. I was exhausted. I was hormonal. And I was overwhelmed. I was stumbling through each day as a mom of 2 and, just like that, we added one more. So, essentially we went from 1 kid to THREE kids in a month's time. And it was TOUGH. At the height of my exhaustion and raging hormones, I entertained the idea of packing up my shit (disclaimer: I love Jesus, but I cuss a little), taking my 2 kids, and running for the hills. After all, who wants to deal with all of that (including, but not limited to, a vindictive baby mama, an emotionally wounded, attention-starved child, family court, a self-serving court appointed attorney, and a husband whose focus was understandably divided) RIGHT AFTER GIVING BIRTH.
During a time when I was too overwhelmed, too tired, and too hormonal to cry out to Jesus and trust Him through the process, I leaned on my community. We have been blessed with friends, like family, who prayed for us, prayed with us, encouraged us, and even brought us meals during that tough season.
When the dust finally began to settle, I started to see that season for what it was - a journey that was meant to be. The situation and all of the circumstances were no mistake. So, I had 2 choices: 1) be a bitter victim, or 2) embrace the season, embrace the lessons, and, most importantly, embrace the little girl who wasn't mine by birth, but by love and marriage.
We have all grown this year. All of us. It's still tough some days. It's hard to effectively raise a child when you continue to NOT be on the same page with the other parent. Our deep, deep desire is to always do what's best for Kendall. But when she's not in our care, we pray, and we trust, because we are ultimately not in control anyway. Because of this situation, I am reminded of this truth often when it comes to not just Kendall, but all of my kids. While we have influence in their lives - especially during these formative years - God has a very unique and specific plan for their lives. That truth gives me peace.
I used to think that being a stepmom was a thankless job. Stepmoms are often thrust into the role as "mother", but don't always have authority to make decisions. By God's grace, I have slowly but surely begun to change my tune. Rather than being hyper-focused on what I can't do or frustrated about what I have zero control over, I have tried to focus on what ultimately counts - loving Kendall. Being a positive influence in her life. Becoming someone she trusts. Being a woman of integrity. Showing her, through my relationship with her dad, how a wife loves and respects her husband. Showing her the importance of pursuing healthy community, healthy friendships, and healthy, God-honoring relationships with men. And, showing her, through my example, that giving (of her resources, time, and talents) and serving others is where purpose is found.
Shouldn't this be true for every relationship we encounter? If we list out the things we can control and influence, and focus on those things, there is just simply not enough time in the day to focus on the things we can't control.
I am embracing the journey. And I pray all of you out there stumbling through a similar journey find peace and learn to embrace your journey.
We survived our first year as a family of 5. One year down. And, Lord willing, many, many more to come.