WATERFORD, MI – Being a parent is hard work. Being a single parent or a stepparent, even harder. Take it from someone who has walked in all of these shoes!
I was 20 and had been married to my children’s father for 2 years when we had our first baby, in 1982. We were so young, but naïve enough to believe that we were ready to wear the huge shoes required for the job. Little did we know how complicated life would become.. Sleepless nights, no money and constant worry became our norm. In spite of it all, I loved being a mom to our sweet, little Amy.
Ben, who was born six years later in 1988 and was a completely different child from his sister. Have you ever heard of Dr. Dobson’s book, “The Strong-willed Child?” I’ll bet you didn’t know that it was written with my son Ben in mind. Even though he could have tried the patience of Job, I loved being his mom, too.
Amy would soon be 11 and Ben had just turned 5 when I was forced to wear the ugly single parent shoes, and life as we knew it changed forever. Wearing these horribly uncomfortable shoes was very stressful, but not without joy. We struggled, but always found ways to have fun. Our church family blessed us in so many ways during those trying years. I am forever grateful for their love and support.
For the first eight years as a single mom, I had absolutely no desire to be in a relationship. My marriage had left me afraid of being hurt again so I didn’t trust anyone. It took a long time for God to heal my heart, but by the time I met and married Gary, I was ready to love and be loved. 4 of our kids were either in college or married, 1 lived with his mom and my Ben, the youngest, was in middle school.
Slipping into the step-parent shoes felt great at the beginning, but sometimes a rock would sneak in and cause a blister. Ben had a very hard time accepting a man in his life, and not getting his way all the time. Also, a couple of the older kids began to feel that their dad loved his new family better and didn’t care about them anymore. It took quite some time to work through all these issues, and I am happy to share we are at a very comfortable place now. The kids are spread out all over the country, and we love getting to visit all of them; our 7 grand children and 1 great grandchild. (Grandparent shoes are the best!)
If you or anyone you know is trying to get used to wearing either the single parent or stepparent shoes, please accept a bit of advice. Don’t try to suffer through the pain and hardships alone. Allow your church family to help you. Someone told me once that I was preventing others from being used by God to be a blessing. I hadn’t looked at their support in this way so those words of wisdom have stuck with me and I have shared it with those I’ve been led to bless. Stepparents, don’t get discouraged. There will be times of trial, but just make sure everyone feels loved and accepted and it will all work out.
Yes, being a parent is hard work, but there is no other job in existence that is as rewarding and important. Wear your shoes with pride and remember to give God all the praise and honor for allowing you to love your beautiful, strong-willed, entertaining, exasperating, wonderful children. We wouldn’t be parents without them!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Becky is a soon-to-be retired Special Education teacher who lives in Waterford with her husband Gary, her grandmother and 2 crazy cats. Becky serves at Springview Community Church in Davisburg as Nursery Coordinator and VBS director. She is also the Michigan WMU Children’s Missions Consultant.