When I was faced with the reality of marrying into a ready-made family, I had all sorts of ideas of what I would do as a mom. I would take my kids on individual dates, cook all the time with them, and never have any major problems that a nice little talk wouldn’t fix.
I’m not saying that those things aren’t bad. I think carving out time for individual children is important, we sometimes cook together, and those nice little talks? Yeah, more like nice LOOOOOOOONG talks. And sometimes those bigger issues aren’t always resolved.
Maybe I’ve mentioned it before, but that saying that everyone is a perfect mom until they have children? Totally have to raise my hand there.
As I look back at those very early days of parenting my bonus children, I am going to be very honest here and tell you that those days were filled with fear. Fear of what extended family would say or think about how I was raising these children. Fear of what others in our small town would say. Fear of what the teachers and administrators at their public school would say. Just about every action towards my kids was made from a place of fear that I would fall very short in the eyes of everyone watching me.
If I make the choice to get their hair cut, will I be judged for not letting their hair grow out?
If I stick with a strict early bedtime (previously enforced by my husband), will people think that I don’t want to spend time with my kids?
If I don’t let them eat a lot of sugar, will people think I’m out to spoil their fun?
If I let them eat a lot of candy/sugar, will people think I don’t care about their health?
If I correct them for xyz will people think I’m overly strict?
If I fail to correct them for xyz, will people think I don’t care about their upbringing?
Will people think I don’t love them as much as my biological child(ren)?
The list could go on and on, and I remember very distinctly basing a lot of my decisions as a parent on whether or not those around me would approve or disapprove. I just about drove myself (and my poor husband) crazy.
BUT, THE DAY CAME WHEN I REALIZED I DIDN’T HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR
For all you mamas with bonus children, I don’t know if you’ve faced the whole living in fear thing. I strongly suspect that it comes with the territory. But, I remember the day very clearly when I stopped living in fear. I stopped being “Mom” and I became MOM.
For sake of privacy, I won’t delve into all the details, but we found out that our second oldest daughter had gone through some things with some extended family members about a year prior to mu husband and I getting married. As she stood in the kitchen with me, giving her account of what happened, I remember shaking. I totally and completely did not feel equipped to handle that situation. I remember praying that my husband would come home from work early because I did not want to touch this issue. The family members that I lived in the most fear over judging me in my parenting were the very ones that stood accused, and in that moment, I had a choice. I could let fear rule the moment. But, as I looked into my daughter’s tear-filled face and watched her shaking with the enormity of her admission, my heart broke. The words of Jesus from John 14:27 whispered in my inmost being.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I cried with my daughter. I hugged her. And I vowed that I would no longer allow fear to rule my decisions and cloud my judgement. My kids needed ME. I was THEIR mom. No, I did not give birth to them. But, they are unequivocally my children that God has entrusted to me. My “job” if you will, is to parent my children, love them, fight for them each and every day of my life.
I look back at that moment, and I can say that, as far as it relates to my bonus kids, that day stands out in my mind as the most important day in my motherhood journey with them. I stopped second-guessing every decision I made. I became much more decisive, and I owned being their mother. It ceased being something that I “played” at, and became a reality. My reality. My kids.
Being judged or pressured into parenting a certain way hurts. Being criticized for parenting decisions hurts. People acting or outright telling you that you aren’t the mother of your bonus kids hurts. But, you know what? I’ve found that living in fear hurts more.
There will always be those people who are “down” on you for how you raise your children. I think that’s a pretty standard, across the board thing for parenting, regardless of bonus or biological children. But, you can choose to allow the peace of God rule your decisions and give over the fear of others to Him. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is worth it.
I will close by saying this-you’re not alone in this journey. I don’t know your exact experience or what you are struggling with, but know this, reader, I am praying for you. And I am praying that the peace of God, which surpasses ALL understanding will guard your hearts and minds.
If you know of someone who could be encouraged through this blog, please share this post on social media or send them a link to this blog via email! And, if you have a personal prayer request that you would like to share with me, I would love it if you would send me an email or a message through Facebook so that I can pray for you specifically.