Our Fight Song

The pressure was mounting, the days were ticking down, the hearts were racing….and it wasn’t just my daughters feeling this way. Talent show was coming up and I was becoming increasingly frustrated. What was going on? The girls wanted to surprise me with their acts and costumes. When I’d ask if I could practice with them or if they needed me to get them anything to wear, they would quickly let me know that their stepmom had it all taken care of. “Nothing for you to worry about, Mom.”

This bothered me. I felt like she was doing my job, not only my job, but better than I was. Practicing, buying fancy dresses and props. Spending more money than I would or should on talent show attire, I might add. She was killing it as a stepmom and that was killing me. That led to “Am I doing enough? Is she better than me?” thoughts. Insecurity. Jealousy.

One of the places I know she’s better than me is in doing their hair. She fixes their hair like I’ve never been able to. She braids, she updos, she curls, she straightens. I get compliments on their hair and outfits a lot after she dresses them. I smile and usually give her the credit. It hurts either way. I can honestly say I’m hair challenged. So, I can’t help but feel less than when people ooh and ahh over their hair. We all have our gifts, right? I am left wondering, what is mine?

A few days before the talent show, I was really struggling and had a few friends praying specifically over me and this situation in my heart.

She happened to text me that day and ask if she could pick the girls up at 4:00 to do their hair for the talent show. (Of course!) Straight to the heart of my insecurity. My heart sunk. In my head, I had two choices. One would be to say “yes” and continue to feel inferior and inept. The second, being “No, I’ll do it” and bring them with hair not nearly as cute as if I’d just let her do it. Sooooo, I have no doubt God intervened and placed a third option in my heart. An option I never would have considered before. Ever.

Instead of door #1 or #2, I took #3. I asked her if she could come over to our house and show me how she does it. Maybe I could learn something? Maybe I could admit there are some things she does better than me. Just like everyone else on this planet. Maybe if I humbled myself to watch and learn, rather than resist or retreat, we could work together. And, that’s just what we did.

She came over and we did the girls hair together. We showed up at the talent show and the girls did wonderfully. As my youngest, sang “Fight Song” loud and proud in her boxing gloves, red cape, and fancy red dress, I couldn’t help but think, “Yes, baby girl, this is our fight song, take back our life song, prove we’re alright song, our power’s turned on, starting right now, we’ll be strong, we’ll play our fight song…..”

And, now you know the rest of the story. I’ll never forget her performance that day. Not only because she knocked it out of the park, but because we all did.

So to all you stepmoms out there who are doing your best and doing it well, have mercy on us mamas. It’s not easy. Put yourself in our shoes and imagine how hard it would be to watch another woman help raise your babies…and well. We don’t have kids expecting to share. It goes against every fiber in our being. But, thank you. If you love our kids, thank you. We know you don’t have to. You choose to. If they love you, bonus. The more love in my kids lives, the better.

I can’t change the fact that you’re here and somehow you keep showing me, just by loving them, that I wouldn’t want to. And, that’s hard to admit as Mama. I’m thankful he’s with a woman who cares and loves our kids. And, can do a salon quality updo.

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Siblings

siblings

When I was pregnant with my youngest, I automatically assumed my girls would be immediate and consistent best friends. I have a brother and we weren’t overly close growing up. I thought it was more because he was a boy and I was a girl. Because of this, I wanted a sister so badly. A built in best friend. That’s what sisters are or must be, right? I didn’t know any different, so I assumed incorrectly.

Having the same mom and dad doesn’t automatically equal friendship. Just like being coworkers or neighbors doesn’t. I never knew. Just because I’m the type of person that wants to be friends with each and every person I meet, I naturally assume others feel the same way. Why not siblings?

My girls are very different. Five years apart, different interests, different body types, different temperaments, different personalities. As are my brother and I. Expecting them to be close is a set up for my own disappointment. They may be friends one day. And sometimes they appear to be. But, they will always be sisters. They can choose their friends, but they are bound by blood. If this is all they have in common, so be it. But, those rare moments when they act like they actually like each other, warm my heart and soul.

Never in a million years did I expect my girls to argue and annoy each other like they do. It’s pretty constant…..So much so, I’ll tell them my ears are bleeding from the incessant fighting. So, I pray. I pray for their hearts individually and towards each other. After all, that’s all I can do. I’ll separate and discipline them when necessary, but just like I can’t MAKE someone like me, I can’t MAKE them like each other.

I thought they would love to sleep together when they got old enough. Last night was the first time they voluntarily did. I was so thankful! In the past, one or the other always refused. Once my oldest finally agreed, the youngest decided she didn’t want to, probably out of spite. After that exchange, I was convinced it would never happen. Then, last night…I made sure they knew how much it meant to me this morning. My oldest said, “It’s not that big of a deal, Mom.” The kindness, the closeness, the mutual agreement on anything. When it is hard to come by, it’s a very big deal.

Brothers and sisters may not be best friends and that’s okay. If you have a brother or sister that is, wonderful!! Being a sibling happens at birth. Friendship is a choice. May your friends complement you and lift you up. May they encourage you when you’re down. May they make an effort to meet you where you are and remind you of how special you are when you forget. This is my prayer for my girls. They may or may not have that friendship with each other one day. Either way, may God fill their lives with friends that do. And, may they learn how to respect each others differences. May they love each other in spite of them. And, may they know how much I love them both. They don’t have to be friends, but they will always be sisters. And, that is irreplaceable too.

Raising kids is a whole new world. People can tell you, you can watch others, you can read books, you can take tips, but until you experience it, you just don’t know.

 

Hashing Out the Holidays

holidays

After living through it as a child and as an adult, I have no doubt why God hates divorce. And, it becomes all the more evident over the holidays when sentimentality and family time is planned around, planned for, and deemed most precious. That being said, I also know God hates abuse and infidelity. God hates selfishness and pride. And, because of these traits, divorce is imminent in this fallen world.

Hashing out the holidays with my ex is always painful. Who wants to share kids on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? No one!

Being a child of divorce, I’m well aware of the scheduling that goes into seeing everyone. We have multiple homes to visit and presents to open, along with mass quantities of food to consume. All blessings! I’m the type who wants to be everywhere with everyone I love….all the time. But, the schedule can get tight at times. And, we still want to make time for the personal Christmas with our spouse and kids. That’s hard enough married, but throw my own divorce in the mix and I just can’t do it. Well I can, but not with my kids. It’s painful and, no doubt, the hardest time of the year for most divorced parents. We want to celebrate the season, but without our children, there is a fog that’s hard to lift. There is definitely something (someone) missing.

Thank God for family to celebrate with. Thank God for children to buy for. Thank God for a family who understands my situation. Thank God for places to be. Help me, Lord, with patience and the aching heart that comes along with absent children at each and every event where I crave their presence. So much more than their presents.

This year, I want to focus more on peace than fighting. I’d rather give too much than fight one more day. I’d rather know my kids are loved at both homes and give up time if necessary, than argue over going back and forth. I’d rather forego family traditions on my end than stubbornly fight to uphold them if all it causes is chaos and stress. I’ll make new ones. New ones full of peace, love, and sacrifice. And, I’ll also stand by the fact that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I will once again grieve the old and embrace the new. I will choose peace. Isn’t that why Jesus came as a baby anyway? Peace. I choose to lay it down and let it go…

If this post leaves you with anything, I hope it emphasizes the importance of presence over presents. When you are loved and not present, you are gravely missed. Once again, looking forward to the day we can all be together…..all the time. Happy, healthy, and whole.

 

Worrier vrs. Warrior

warrior

I shared this title idea with one of my coworkers this past week and she agreed that it would be a great one for most of us. I have been a tried and true worrier my whole life. If worry were a disease, I’d be riddled with it. “What could I have done or said differently?” “This must be MY fault.” “I should have fixed it or stopped it or done whatever I tried to do differently.” Any time a problem comes my way I tend to immediately blame myself. It’s gotta be me. What’s wrong with ME?….

When God says “Be Still” this calms my nerves. This phrase reminds me that rejection may have been the most loving option, not the least. This phrase reminds me that sometimes it’s not what we COULD have done but what God DID do that sent that particular situation in that particular direction. This phrase reminds me that no matter how much we fear we may mess things up, He is STILL in control.

Sure, we make choices and may suffer consequences, but like the perfect parent He is, He still loves us. Sometimes the choices are made for us and we tend to take that VERY personally. Once again….WHY ME?? We need to fall towards His love and not away. Give the situation back to Him and remind ourselves that it’s just too heavy for us to carry.

What makes a worrier?  Insecurity, lies, paranoia, stress, questions, rejection, FEAR!

What makes a warrior? Prayer, peace, truth, confidence, strength, power, SURRENDER!

Waving the white flag of surrender makes us the warriors we need to be to live in this world. It’s HIS way or the highway, not mine. We shouldn’t be afraid to make choices, we shouldn’t be afraid to try, we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. The desire to live our lives to honor Him is the best we have to offer. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. He doesn’t expect perfection.

Living loved is the best defense against worry. He wants us to live loved. Living consciously aware of His love throughout the day will take the sting out of disappointments, rejection, and worry. Living loved can remove the fear of trying, failing, and trying again. Knowing that we were loved in the past (when it happened), are loved today (while it’s happening), and will be loved in the future (even if it happens) is a warrior’s perspective.

I don’t write as an overcomer to worry, it’s still a daily struggle for me. I write to remind myself of these truths because I desire to live as a warrior too. Let’s fight (surrender) together. Oorah!