Most are saluting their mothers today, and I completely understand why. I did the same thing by cooking a meal and sharing it with those closest to me. I’ve also decided to celebrate all mothers throughout the month of May and share their stories with the world. If you’d like to salute your mom and share a story of lessons learned, drop me a line here.
Today I’d like to highlight two roles that are sometimes seen in a negative light — stepmothers and mothers-in-law. Think about all the evil stepmothers you’ve seen in books and Disney movies. Mothers-in-law get a bad rap too. Some of you dear readers may have a snarky remark or two to say about your stepmother or mother-in-law. That’s not the case with me though. I am privileged to have two bonus mothers in my life, and I will be forever grateful to them for the impact they’ve made in my life.
My stepmother is Harriet, and I’ve literally known her for decades. She raised two brilliant kids of her own and still had plenty of love in her heart for me. We were more like girlfriends — chatting late into the night until we were too tired for words. Once the younger kids were in bed, we watched movies, ate popcorn, drank tea, and cackled softly — trying not to wake anyone in the house.
She always referred to me as her daughter, and I never forgot that. Some things just stick with you. Here’s a woman who married my father, and by that time, I was nearly an adult, and she accepted the role of stepmother without hesitation. She was nothing like the stepmothers I’d read about or seen in movies. We took long drives on back roads to visit her patients when I was home from college — creating priceless memories along the way. There’s a story about a back road, a turtle, and a storage bin that still makes me giggle even now, but she’d never forgive me if I shared that story with all of you. Use your imagination, and you can figure it out. Let’s just say that stew was on the menu later that week.
Another thing that makes my stepmother special is her hugs. When she hugs you, you feel the love, and that’s no exaggeration. In addition to those heart-warming hugs, she did something that I consider admirable. She worked to bridge an ever-widening gap in my relationship with my father. I applaud her for her “Peace Talks” with both of us over the years. That was a huge challenge to take on, but she did it anyway. Her intervention and many talks with my heavenly Father have allowed us to have some semblance of a relationship today.
Probably the most valuable lesson I learned from her, however, is how to be a stepmother. I never dreamed that I’d have the opportunity to put any of those skills into practice, but God knows the plan he has for our lives, and he used Harriet to prepare me for that role. What I learned from Harriet is that the heart will lead you, and it knows what it needs. Our hearts speak a language that mere words can’t sum up. My hope is that my stepchildren feel the love that I have for them when I hug them or prepare meals for them or stay up watching movies and baking cookies late into the night. I love deeply, and many can attest to that, but I am also cognizant of my role as stepmother — never to be confused with mother. My role is to be there, to listen, to advise, and to guide them when needed. If this were basketball, I’d hustle, rebound, and assist.
For all the Bonus Moms out there, you matter too! It still It Still Takes a Village to raise our kids, and you are a part of that village. So be like Harriet, and do your part. Be respectful, but love with all your heart.
If you’d like to celebrate your mom during Mothers’ May, please click here.
NOTE – Check out Part II of Bonus Moms tomorrow when I salute my mother-in-law Anna.
Lovely post, Michelle!
Thanks, my friend.
This was awesome Michelle! Thank you for sharing. I, too, have a stepmother and although the road was rocky when I was younger, I see how God used her family and my sisters and brothers to provide a safe space for me growing up and to show me what a ‘normal’ family looked in the face of chaos in my own home. She welcomed me into her home, always fed me and let me be a part of family stuff. For that, I am grateful.
Very thoughtful, generous, and insightful my friend!
Ah, this was so beautiful, your step mom sounds like a wonderful woman and a true mother.
I agree with you, step moms and mothers-in-law get a bad rap, but the bad eggs shouldn’t make us forget to celebrate the very good eggs. Indeed, they are bonus moms for those who have them are even doubly lucky! 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment, Nedoux! 🙂 Both of my bonus moms are very special ladies.