It was a little over a year and half now when my 11-year old stepson moved in with us full-time. This was by far an answered prayer. We prayed and prayed for this moment to happen and in God’s timing it did. I’m so blessed to have this boy in my life. I’ve known him since he was a year and a half, with his chubby cheeks, jet black hair and the cutest underbite ever. Over those early years, we bonded. When my husband would work weekends, Matthew and I would hangout and enjoy our quality time together. As he grew, so did our bond. He went from diapers into terrible two’s, then into pre-K and elementary until he eventually sprouted into what is now officially a man-child.
Back when I was praying for this transition, I assumed it would be effortless; after all, he was pretty much with us all the time. How hard could it be right? Wrong!
I never considered the zero to sixty shift that would take place and catapult our life into another stratosphere as I went from fun weekend step-parent to now full-time stepmom. I was immediately flung into homework routines, lunch schedules, and field trips all in the blink of an eye. Although it was overwhelming and stressful at times, I still allowed myself grace.
“Give it time.” I said.
“This is a big change.” I reasoned.
I managed to survive the first year by God’s grace. As last summer came and went, I couldn’t wait to get back into a normal routine.
“This year will be easier. I’ve got this.” I declared.
Oh, how wrong I was.
The grace I once extended to myself had now evaporated and my confident whispers were replaced with shouts of doubt. Not only am I “step-mom” but a full-time career parent to boot. This means that I don’t get to do school drop off, or volunteer for school activities, or participate in school functions. Afternoon pick up is often from the after-school program, long after the “good” moms have scooped up their kids and I’m certain are by now, happily cooking dinner and doing homework with their bundles of love.
Me on the other hand, I’m exhausted from driving an hour and half and my brain is fried from giving a 110% all day. Dinner is far too often a run through the local drive-thru spot which, to some credit, I at least try to make a healthy option.
And let’s not get started on school sports because they are the worst. I can’t volunteer to be a parent driver, let alone arrive on time to see the first half. I feel less qualified every time I have to ask another mom for a ride. I see the “other” moms in their huge SUVs, cheerfully whisking their kids to and fro all the school activities and I think, “Am I doing this all wrong?”
“I should be participating in school drop off or volunteering to serve at the book fair or science fair or whatever fair they have going on that week, right?”
“Am I a bad parent because I’m not like those ‘other’ moms?”
“Am I a bad parent because instead of yoga pants and top knots, I show up in suits and heels?”
The doubts run rampant.
So why do I share all of this?
For one, because nobody talks about this stuff. No one likes to admit their insecurities or vulnerabilities, especially when it comes to parenting. I share this because I’m sure some of you feel just like I do. Maybe the parenting situation looks different but I guarantee if you’re a parent, especially a working one, you’ve at one point or another felt this same mommy-guilt for not “having it all together”.
Maybe you’ve questioned yourself or compared yourself or doubted yourself.
Maybe in the midst of your chaos, you forgot to pack lunch (check) or you forgot it was picture day (check) or you forgot to buy that tri-fold foam board that was required for tomorrow’s science project so there you are running into to Staples before they close for the night (check) — *insert big sigh right here. Let me dare to say that in those moments you probably felt like a complete and utter failure (check).
If this speaks to you in anyway then I want you to know you are not alone. I want to take this time to extend grace your way and tell you you are doing a great job.
I’ve come to terms with being a full-time parent as well as a full-time employee as well as a full-time wife. I’ve come to terms that my parenting looks different and that’s okay. I’m showing up and doing the best I can.
You are showing up and doing the best you can too. Instead of heaping guilt upon guilt, try heaping grace upon grace.
Grace: defined as favor or kindness.
The Bible is filled with scripture after scripture on grace — God’s grace. Jesus extends grace to the worst of the worst. Grace is a wonderful beautiful gift given to us to set us free. If God can pour His grace on us, why can’t we do the same for ourselves?
So friend, when you forget to wash their favorite shirt, or forget that the school play was tonight, or have to pass on chaperoning the next field trip, or are about to scream if you have to do one more math problem — here’s permission to give yourself GRACE.
Stop & Reflect: What is one area that you are most hard on yourself about? What would it look like if you gave yourself some grace?
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