"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."
In the last few years, my life has seen much change. One of the most interesting changes has been that of becoming a step-mother.
I had a great example of what a step-parent should look like. In a world where step-parents exist, which is of course, NOT a perfect world, Layne was probably the closest thing to a perfect step-parent that ever existed. So many people were shocked to find that he even WAS a step-parent. He loved our girls as much as he loved the boys. He thought of them constantly.
Now, I'm in no way hoping to be as good at this as Layne, who made it look--well easy. It's not. David and I are both learning that there are a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of worries, and a lot of confusion that comes with being step-parents.
What is it like? Have you ever seen the television show "Wife Swap?" Two moms switch places and have to interact with families with different lifestyles. You wonder when you first meet the two families how these people will make it two weeks without killing one another. Ultra conservative moms are sent to live with liberals. Moms who are neat freaks go live in homes that are mounded in trash. Sports freaks go to live with families that only read books.
That's what it is like. You have this one life. And you are pretty settled in that life. Suddenly, you are thrust into a new life. You have kids who don't respond to things the way the kids you have been living with have always responded. They have new rules, or new areas of flex. Add to that the stresses that come with whatever caused each family to be without one parent, and well, it's an interesting situation.
There are decisions to be made. Names, for instance. What do the kids call you? What do you call yourself? I always thought I'd never have one of those hyphenated names--my name was of course, to be supplanted with my husband's name. But what do you do when you have kids, and dad passes on? You want to be identified with those kids. You want to honor the man who gave his life for all of you, yet, there is this new husband who also should be honored. Answer? You hyphenate.
Changes happen...families blend...but it isn't like mixing Koolade, where the water meets the color, and everything is one. It's more like lemonade, where you stir and stir and stir and half the sugar insists on sitting at the bottom of the pitcher. It takes time. It takes prayer, it takes patience. You have to rely that God has a plan, even if sometimes, you don't see it clearly.
Slowly though, it happens. A little girl says "Betty, can I talk to you...not Dad, YOU?" OR a son making hard decisions gets some help from a guy who is willing to listen--so he doesn't have to burden mom with his concerns. A young man learns to drive, a little girl finds that she's got inner AND outer strength in Judo, a family takes a night off to watch "The Hiding Place" together and have wings.
And we learn from each other. Just like in "Wife Swap"... And God carries you, one day at a time. Here is to all those "step" parents...who STEP up, STEP in and STEP forward to parent kids they did not bring into the world, to help those kids make their way in it.