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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My Letter to Her…

letter

I’ll never understand how, what, when, or exactly why. I don’t need to, nor do I even want to at this point. What I do know is I didn’t worry about you as his coworker. You were a friend, our friend I thought. You were married and I remember your health was a concern from time to time. My husband talked such a big game about others who strayed, I never thought he would. I don’t know when it went from coworkers to friends to more. I don’t know how he fell. But, he did. He fell so in love with you that he wanted out. But, he didn’t know how to do it.

He had already stopped spending family time together, stopped date nights, made excuses even when we had a babysitter not to go, yet none of that was enough. It wasn’t until I went months with him refusing to touch me at all, that I asked him to leave for a week for some soul searching to figure out what was going on. And leave he did, so fast my head spun. Never to return, except for his things. Gone like the wind. I still didn’t know about you. I asked multiple times if there was someone else, was told “no”, and I still never thought it possible. We had an infant and a five year old at the time. It was all I could do to keep my head above water and his time, mind, and body was elsewhere. With you.

And, he’s still with you. Married to you. Raising our kids with you. When I actually did get confirmation about you, it was painful, but in some ways a relief to know I was right. There was someone else and it was you.

I’ve always been drawn to women’s ministry and God spoke to my heart early on that if my heart for and work with women is to flourish, I can’t have a bitter heart towards you. I may encounter women who have walked in both of our shoes. I can’t hate you. I can’t wish you harm. I can’t shame you. I should cry out to God. I should pray over you. I should be thankful you love my girls and they love you. I should foster their relationship with you.

This is not what I wanted, but it is what I received. So, in order to make the best of this co-parenting situation, I must forgive and wish you both the best. Every other option hurts the kids and me more. I know from experience because my own parents are divorced. The child should never feel the strain between natural and step parent. It’s not the child’s fault that they have both. Making the child feel guilty for loving the other parent is placing blame where it doesn’t belong. They should be able to love both without one or the other getting offended.

I fought for our marriage long after he was already gone. He was just waiting for me to ask him to go so he could blame me for the separation. He ran straight to you. I’ll never know how your relationship got to the point it did, but I don’t blame you any more than I blame him. You both made the choice to be together. The pain I experienced when he withdrew emotionally and physically was confusing. The pain I felt when he left and blamed me on the way out the door was excruciating. The pain I felt when I got the proof of you was nauseating. I remember blacking out and needing to sit down. But, the pain I experienced when my girls loved and clung to you from the very beginning cannot be put into words. Their sweet hearts didn’t understand what was happening. I thank God they didn’t feel it at the time and pray they never, ever personally do.

This pain has changed me forever. I pray for the better. It has brought me to my knees and onto my face. It has broken me wide open. This pain brought me to the only One who could put breath in my lungs and a desire to turn this over. It is also what propels me to come alongside others who feel it or help others prevent it. We all need forgiveness. We all need grace. We all need love. And, we all need hope. May God be glorified through this pain and my story. May He alone be seen as the Deliverer of what we all need most and that is peace in a situation that could, would, should lead to anything but.

My prayer for you is that he loves you well. And, that our daughters see that. My prayer is that your marriage be long and be your last. That you help him in every way that I couldn’t. That he’s faithful to you. That’s he’s engaged. That he prioritizes family time. That he’s affectionate when you need him to be. And, that you remain healthy. If my girls are destined a stepmother, I’m thankful they have one like you. Involved, caring, supportive, present, eager to love and nurture.

None of this has been easy for me. But, knowing they are loved when they are at their dad’s is not something I have had to worry about. And, I thank you for that. Now, let’s raise some girls together.