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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"That's My Jen!"

There is no other way to say it, being a step mom is tough. There is nothing easy about it. I knew going in, it would be an interesting ride. The kids never cease to remind me that I am are not the "real mom" (not overtly, but it's just there). When Paul and I were married, the children and I said vows to each other that went something like this ...

"Jennifer, do you promise to be a faithful wife to Paul, a spiritual leader of your home and also a patient, loving mother to Joe, Olivia and Sam, caring for them and providing for them as your own? Do you promise to be their strength and their emotional support, loving them with all your heart and making Christ the center of your home?

And now, Joe, Olivia and Sam, do you promise to love and respect Jennifer? Do you promise to support this marriage and your family? Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children, and to encourage them and support them in your new life together?"

We all said, "I do." But did we really? When I re-read those vows, I have to admit, that's a pretty tall order from every angle. "Patient, loving mother? Love and respect?!"

Following a relaxing, family summer vacation on the beach at the end of July, we faced the first day of school on August 15. It was, in a word, CHAOS. I had been looking forward to the beginning of school. We would all get back on some sort of schedule. But, when it hit, it was like "the perfect storm." We were controlled by "the schedule" and the children all felt their "stuff" was most important. There were demands, disrespect and yes ... many tears. As the step mom, my heart was breaking. I thought I was handling everything so well ... breathe in, breathe out ... breathe in, breathe out ... I even went to work early for some quiet time. What happened to that "patient, loving mother" and the vows of "love and respect?"

Much like a marriage and even our relationship with God, sometimes, we let the chaos of our lives consume us and the love and respect part? It goes right out the window. The good news is that God is still in control and loves us beyond measure, even when life, and everyone around us seem completely out of control.

As for being a step mom? It's week 2 of school and the kids come home from the "real mom's" house today. I'll let you how it goes. Even with all that happened last week, I have to admit that being a step mom is still a "pretty cool gig." And, when we reach new heights of crazy, as the vows said, I still "love them with all my heart." The benefits outweigh the craziness ... smiles, hugs, high fives, knuckles, cuddles and laughter.

Sam still can't remember the word "step mom," so he introduces me and says, "that's My Jen." I think he believes everyone has a "My Jen" (he's only 5)!  So, I'll be content to be "My Jen," and continue to pray every day that we will all be respectful and mindful of each other in our home. I know that when life is running amok, "My God" reigns and sits on His throne ... and smiles when, much like when He calmed the stormy seas, He calms "My Jen's" chaotic world.

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