Click here to read a very good article about a child’s perspective on stepmothers. Here’s an excerpt:
Everyone’s heard of stepmonsters: those evil second, third (forth?) wives who cruelly shuffle stepkids off to the sidelines and compete for their dad’s attention. This isn’t about them. I’m talking about stepmoms in crisis who are really trying to make it work. They all wonder why, after knocking themselves out for their 21st century Brady Bunch, they still end up with stepkids who treat them like they are auditioning for The Little Rascals Reality Show. On top of that disrespectful drama, toss in an already frustrated stepmom overhearing the little darlings bandy about the dreaded stepmonster jab one too many times – and snap. Off goes the wedding band, pop goes the Xanax, and out come the tears.
I have a diva room. That’s the blessing of having kids move out of your home. Suddenly you have rooms that no longer have a purpose. So I decided to make a reading room. My chaise lounge and a couple of shabby chic end tables in a pink and brown room with a leopard print carpet and curtains were the main pieces.
Notice an old typewriter that I found that reminded of when I was a kid before we had computers. Isn’t it cute all painted?
I also have my workout equipment in there, my treadmill and pilate ball and weights.
But there is one thing that I bought recently that brings me hope for my future.
Yes! It’s a hope chest. It was built in February 1950 and manufactured by Lane. It’s lined inside and the smell of cedar is nice and soothing. I so far have only put a few things in there just some plates my grandmother gave me, Time’s 2000-2009 special edition magazine, and some pillowcases my mother embroidered.
I am making a keepsake for a granddaughter that only God has met so far. I know she’s somewhere in my future and I don’t know where or when she will arrive but she has a gift waiting for her when she is a teenager and ready to receive memories of the women who formed the generations before her. I haven’t met her yet but I know her personality. I know she will be strong, wise, opinionated, and she will have a soul that is passionate and beautiful just as the women who came before her. I have hope for the future of an unborn baby, created before the foundation of the world to be born to her generation at her appointed time to enter our universe so I carefully put things away her.
I look forward to the day I will hold her in my arms and whisper my prayers for her future to her and let her know how long I have waited for her. I anticipate the day I learn the name her parents have given her. I have a vision of the time I will spend with her. Maybe there will be a day when she crawls around in the diva room! I’m not in a hurry and I can wait for as long as it takes. For now, I am content to collect things for her, to have breakable things on the surfaces of furniture and have Lulu’s squeaky toys left on the rug.
As my husband sings, “I’m somewhere in the future and I look much better than I look right now.” One day, I will be a grandmother and it will be great.
Our most important battles occur when we face life’s enemies. There are three areas of your life that will be attacked.
1. Mental, emotional, spiritual, physical health will be attacked by these factors:
Bad eating habits
These are battles against your well-being. To be a whole person you must fight against these enemies who seek to kill you or at least destroy this aspect of your life. You will never fulfill your destiny when these battles are being won with your agreement. It is your choice after all.
The second area of your life that you will face battles in are your covenant relationships, God, your family, your church, your friends. The enemies of covenant relationships are:
Lack of consideration
Lack of motivation
Lack of character, integrity
Lack of honor and consistency
These are enemies that attack the area of your life where your relationships are involved. We were not meant to be lone creatures but a part of one another so these battles are lost when you turn away from or make decisions based on these attacks to your mind.
The next area of life’s battles is your prosperity. Prosperity is not only your money. It’s where you prosper, your attitude, your job, your time, your talent, your home and everything and anything that adds value to your life.
A hoarding attitude
Failure to plan
Failure to plan
Lack of goals
Failure to honor God through your tithes and offerings
These are all enemies to prosperity. When any one of these battles is lost the results are that you find yourself in lack in that particular area of your life. Don’t allow this happen.
God gives us a weapon for every single enemy. Here’s the big thing you have to know about warfare – you have to get it into your heart that you can win! You can win. You have to KNOW the weaknesses of your enemy. David when he came across Goliath had the faith that he could win. The reason he did so well against the giant was that he’d faced smaller trials and had success.
Remind yourself of battles that you’ve won in the past. Don’t get caught up in the lie that nothing has ever gone right, there are things that you have been a winner at. Reach for those goals as markers that this battle is yours to win and then go for it! If you don’t go for it, you’ll never defeat it.
There is a movie out in theaters right now that is a really great movie to go and see with your kids. I saw it yesterday and recommend it. I took my 15 year-old stepson, and we joined some friends at the theater. We both enjoyed it very much. If you haven’t heard about it, the link to find out more is here.
On Saturday I attended a birthday party of a great woman in the Lord. While I was there people were mingling about both family and friends. Some were saved and some not. It was a great mix of people. They all made me feel welcome into their family.
After being there about an hour and meeting a really great couple who had just come back from a trip to Vegas to get tattoos, which were fabulously done by the way, by Hart and Huntington (a very cool shop in the tattoo world) another family member came up to the table I was sitting at to say hello to the people she knew there. I was introduced as, “This is my Pastor, Susan Young.” The woman said hello and was talking when all of a sudden in mid-sentence she said,
“Did you say Pastor?” The other woman said, “Yeah.” She exclaimed, “Oh Sh**! and I’m here with a beer.”
She begins to try to hide her beer behind her back as she apologizes to me and I see her discomfort. I smiled and quietly said, “It’s okay and you’re fine. The bible says nothing about drinking a beer; it’s being drunk which is the issue. I am not here to stone you.” She smiled and instantly seemed to relax, she still left quickly, but later came back and sat down to talk. It makes me think though, why the reaction? Pastor Doug says it’s because we have the Holy Spirit and therefore conviction follows. That is a part of it, but also it’s because
It makes me very uncomfortable when people feel weird around me. Did they have that reaction with Jesus? When he talked to sinners did they squirm and run and hide, or was he so captivating and loving that they accepted his invitation to talk, and to learn about his beliefs, and why he believed them. I am not talking about the demon possessed either, just normal people. Did the conversation and the man’s presence change them? I believe it did.
This woman’s language didn’t burn my ears. I am a word person, cussing doesn’t offend me when adults say it. The word CONVERSATE offends me more because it’s a non word! Her beer didn’t offend me. Personally, I think beer taste horribly and I don’t know why people drink it, the taste makes me shudder, but simply because it’s not my thing.
How many times have I walked into a room and the room hushed since I’ve been in ministry? It’s been too many times. Why? Because whatever it was they were doing they felt they couldn’t do in front of me. How many times has someone said a cuss word and then looked at me red-faced and said, “Sorry.” In those instances when they KNOW that I am a pastor and they are SAVED it’s a whole different ballgame. Then I believe it’s conviction but when it’s an unsaved person I wonder if they don’t know any better. The only thing they know is that Christians are judgmental. Why is it that people freak out when a person in ministry is near? Should they not be drawn to us by our love?
At the end of this encounter, I pray I showed Jesus to the woman with the beer, and as I left she asked where our church was located. Maybe I’ll see her someday. I pray I do. In the meantime, I was there to celebrate a birthday and be light in the dark, not by my judgment but rather by my love. Not by my tolerance of sin but my acceptance of those who don’t yet know Christ but will by my example.
I left the birthday party and went to the grocery store. As I was wandering the aisles two teens were in front of me. I have to admit, I notice where bodies are in relation to me but I don’t notice who those bodies are. In other words, I know people are in front of me but I don’t look to see who they are. This gets me in trouble a lot of the times. So the only reason why I know it was a boy and a girl was that the girl was cussing stupidly as only teens do. Every other word is a cuss word because they can. I noted that one of them used to come to church. I tried to make eye contact but he was having none of it. When the one who used to come to church finally said, “Hey, don’t cuss, that lady is a pastor”, now the talk got ugly as the words began to spew from this other teen’s mouth. She didn’t give a F*** who I was she was going to F-ing cuss if she wanted to– and well, you get the gist. Okay, in that instance it was a total different response from me. I didn’t even try to speak to them. Instead I began to pray for them. Wow, how incredibly sad that she despised authority and had not ever been taught respect for adults. I felt bad that their parents had been too busy to instill the moral character that it’s going to take to make it in society. They have a big wake up call coming. I did notice however that she wasn’t yet woman enough to face me. She said all of this as she walked away from me making sure she was yelling in the store and making sure all the people in the vicinity knew that she had been raised by wolves!
Two encounters, two different reactions to my presence, and I had two different reactions, all in the course of one day.
So my husband and I took off for a few days of rest. We stayed in South Lake Tahoe and took a drive to Virginia City. It’s a beautiful drive with lots of great scenery. We got off along the way to take some pictures and do some walking. After all, not having an agenda is the goal!
Isn’t the lake just the best sight? Imagine that God made this all for YOU!
My husband decided that if he was going to live in Virginia City then he wanted to be the Sheriff. He is a Louis L’amour fan! Then we saw this church. When it was built it cost $12,000. Man, talk about a cost of living increase. I wonder what they’d think of what we’ve paid to have our church put back together?
It’s been a good time off. Now it’s time to head home and get back to work! I’m blessed to work, and I’m blessed to have a good man to share my life with. Some things we should never take for granted!
The Evil Stepmother
by Maureen F. McHugh
My nine-year-old stepson Adam and I were coming home from Kung Fu. “Maureen,” Adam said — he calls me ‘Maureen’ because he was seven when Bob and I got married and that was what he had called me before. “Maureen,” Adam said, “are we going to have a Christmas tree?”
“Yeah,” I said, “of course.” After thinking a moment. “Adam, why didn’t you think we were going to have a Christmas tree?”
“Because of the new house,” he said, rather matter-of-fact. “I thought you might not let us.”
It is strange to find that you have become the kind of person who might ban Christmas Trees.
We joke about me being the evil stepmother. In fact, the joke is that I am the Nazi Evil Stepmother From Hell. It dispels tension to say it out loud. Actually, Adam and I do pretty good together. But the truth is that all stepmothers are evil. It is the nature of the relationship. It is, as far as I can tell, an unavoidable fact of step relationships.
We enter into all major relationships with no real clue of where we are going; marriage, birth, friendship. We carry maps we believe are true; our parent’s relationship, what it says in the baby book, the landscape of our own childhood. These maps are approximate at best, dangerously misleading at worst.
Dysfunctional families breed dysfunctional families. Abuse is handed down from generation to generation. That it’s all the stuff of 12 Step programs and talk shows doesn’t make it any less true or any less profound.
The map of step parenting is one of the worst, because it is based on a lie. The lie is that you will be mom or you will be dad. If you’ve got custody of the child, you’re going to raise it. You’ll be there, or you won’t. Either I mother Adam and pack his lunches, go over his homework with him, drive him to and from Boy Scouts, and tell him to eat his carrots, or I’m neglecting him. After all, Adam needs to eat his carrots. He needs someone to take his homework seriously. He needs to be told to get his shoes on, it’s time for the bus. He needs to be told not to say ‘shit’ in front of his grandmother and his teachers.
But he already has a mother, and I’m not his mother, and no matter how deserving or undeserving she is or I am, I never will be. He knows it, I know it. Stepmothers don’t represent good things for children. When I married Adam’s father it meant that Adam could not have his father and mother back together without somehow getting me out of the picture. It meant that he would have to accept a stranger who he didn’t know and maybe wouldn’t really like into his home. It meant he was nearly powerless. It doesn’t really matter that Adam’s father and mother weren’t going to get back together, because Adam wanted to see his mom, and he wanted to be with his dad, and the way that it was easiest for him to get both those things was for his parents to be together.
It’s something most stepparents aren’t prepared for because children often court the future stepparent. You’re dating, and it’s exciting. Adam was excited that his father was going to marry me. He wanted us to do things together. But a week before the wedding, he also wanted to know if his mother and father could get back together. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand that the two things were mutually exclusive, it was more that they were unrelated for him. When I came over I was company, it was fun. But real life was mom and dad.
Marriage stopped that. That is the first evil thing I did.
The second evil thing that stepparents do is take part of a parent away. Imagine this, you’re married, and your spouse suddenly decides to bring someone else into the household, without asking you. You’re forced to accommodate. Your spouse pays attention to the Other, and while they are paying attention to the Other, they are not paying attention to you. Imagine the Other was able to make rules. In marriages it’s called bigamy, and it’s illegal.
What’s worse for the child is that they have already lost most of one parent. Now someone else is laying claim on the remaining parent. The weapons of the stepchild are the weapons of the apparently powerless, the weapons of the guerilla. Subterfuge. Sabotage. The artless report of the hurtful things his real mother said about you. Disliking the way you set the table, not wanting you to move the furniture. And stepchildren — even more than children in non-step relationships — are hyperalert to division between parent and stepparent.
I was thirty-three when I married, I had no children of my own and never wanted any. I’m a book person, so before I got married I went out and bought books about being a stepmother. I asked that we all do some family counseling before and during the time we were getting married. The books painted a dismal picture. Women got depressed. Women felt like maids. Women got sick. There were lots of rules — the child needs to spend some time alone with their natural parent and some time alone with their stepparent in a sort of round robin of quality time; a stepmother should have something of her own that gives her a feeling of her own identity; don’t move into their house, start a new house together if you possibly can.
I liked that there were rules so I followed them and they helped a lot (even though I suspect that, like theories of child-raising, our theories of step relationships are a fad and the advice in the books will all be different fifty years from now.) But I was still evil, and that was the most disheartening thing of all. I felt trapped in role not my own choosing. Becoming a stepmother redefined who I am, and nothing I did could resist that inexorable redefining. I suppose motherhood redefines who you are, too. Part of the redefinition of me has been just that — sitting on the bench with the row of anxious mothers at the little league game or at martial arts. Going to school and being Adam’s mother. Being Adam’s mom. It has made me suddenly feel middle-aged in funny ways. I used to go through the grocery line and buy funky things like endive, a dozen doughnuts, a bottle of champagne and two tuna steaks. Now I buy carts full of cereal and hamburger and juice boxes. I used to buy overpriced jackets and expensive suits. Now I go to Sears and buy four sweat shirts and two packages of socks in the boys department.
When I bought endive and champagne, the check out clerk used to ask me what I was making. But no one asks you what you are making when you buy cereal and hamburger.
Beyond all this loomed the specter of Adam at sixteen. The rebellious teenage boy from the broken home, hulking about the house, always in trouble, always resentful. Like many stepchildren, Adam came with an enormous amount of behavioral baggage. He acted out the tensions of his extended family. He was sullen, tearful, resentful of me and equally resentful of his mother. I knew that Adam was the victim in all this, but when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it is hard to remember that your original intention is to drain the swamp. I had read that I would be resentful, but nothing prepared me for a marriage that was about this alien child. I didn’t marry Adam, he didn’t marry me, and yet that is what my marriage came down to. By the time Adam was dealt with, my husband and I were too exhausted to be married.
My relationship with Adam was good, better than the relationships described in all those books. He was a happier, healthier, more behaved child than he was when I married Bob — after all, it is easier to parent when there are two of you. People complimented me on what a fine job I had done. I was the only one who suspected that there was a coldness in the center of our relationship that Adam and I felt. I could console myself that he was better off than he was before I married Bob, and he was. But I knew that something was a lie.
One day Adam said angrily that I treated the dog better than I treated him. Of course, I liked the dog, the dog adored me, and Adam, well Adam and I had something of a truce. The kind of relationship a child would have with an adult who might ban Christmas trees from the house. So the accusation struck home.
I started to deal with my stepson the way I deal with my dog. Quite literally. A boy and a stepmother have a strange tension in a physical relationship. I hug Adam and I kiss him on the forehead, on the nose, anywhere but on the mouth. I am careful about how I touch him. I suspect that the call from Child Protective Services is the nightmare of every step parent. But after that comment I began to ruffle his hair the way I ruffle the dog’s ears. I rubbed Adam’s back. I petted him. I occasionally gave Adam a treat, the way I occasionally give the dog one. At first it was all calculated, but within a very short time, it was natural to reassure Adam.
It has made all the difference.
Adam is almost twelve, and the specter of the delinquent teenager in the dysfunctional family still haunts me, but it doesn’t seem so likely at the moment. As Adam grows older, my husband and I have more time to be married.
Speaking from the land of the step parent, I tell you, this business of being evil is hard. It is very hard. Being a step parent is the hardest thing I have ever done. And what rewards there are, are small. No one pats me on the head for having given up the pleasures of endive and champagne and tuna steaks for spaghetti sauce and hamburger. That’s what mothers do. Except, of course, they get to be the mom.
adjective; not normal, average, typical, or usual; deviating from a standard
1 Peter 2:9. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Nothing about you is normal. You weren’t called to be normal. So why do we work so hard to fit into a world that is completely and totally temporary? It’s not about the clothes you wear, but the fruit you bear that sets you apart. If your fruit looks exactly like the world then of what benefit was it to others? How did it help humanity?
If it didn’t help humanity then of what purpose did my life serve? As a follower of the Way then love is my mandate and if love is my mandate and I play it out ordinarily then I’ve missed the whole point.
My prayer for you is that your life is never normal. That your life takes twists and turns and ups and downs that form such a powerful love for others that nothing else matters. Not money, not fame, not our own way or opinion or judgment but simply that our love for God outweighs our love for anything else. My prayer is that you find your place in a church where your gifts are used, not as you think they should, because most people want platform promise, but where your love and talent can shine through.
My prayer continues that you will never take for granted a single day of your life. It’s easy for us to go about our day but it’s a different thing to notice the extraordinary. We’ve had fabulous sunny warm days here in California these days. Do we take the time to notice it? Do we take the time to show God the gratitude for it? Do we look at it in terms of how it works for us or for others? No one is promised tomorrow so we have o make the most of today!