Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall in Love Friday #2

Hey everyone...
Welcome back to this little series of mine, Fall in Love Fridays.  If you missed last weeks post about Fighting with Love you can check it out here. This week I wanted to take some time to share a couple of books that have really helped me, not only in my relationship with Justin but also with my journey as a step-mother. 
For all of you that didn't know, those 3 spunky, bright, brilliant, wonderful, smart, sweet & totally adorable kids I post pictures of on this blog are not of my body or my blood. Without getting into a ton of detail, all that you need to know is that the twins & littlest Leader live with Justin & I full time & we are a happy little family. :) 

Being a step-mother was not something I had ever pictured for myself, I had actually pictured myself adopting a few kids & sharing in the joy of motherhood through that journey. Instead the universe had something else up it's sleeve & I met Justin, who was already a father to some truly wonderful children. 
There is nothing easy or glamorous about being a step-mother. Society, has already attempted to clearly define the role of a step-mother, mostly due to some classic fairy tales (Thanks Cinderella), & it is not pretty. If you are about to embark on your own journey of being a step-parent, brace yourself for some wicked judgements, turned up noses & all around ridiculous behavior that will come your way.
Not everyone is going to think you deserve to be banished from your kingdom or that you are evil in a false mother's role, but some will. Often this behavior comes without understanding, I'm pretty sure you didn't marry your step-children's father with the intention of ruining the children's lives. Of course each situation is unique with it's own beginning-middle & end. So, take what I'm saying here to heart or cast it out with the rest of the rubbish on the internet. :)

Since my journey as a step-mother has not been oh so wicked or evil, I have learned a couple of things that I thought were worth passing on. I did not have any children of my own when I met Justin, so I have always approached everything with the kids as if they were my own. I have always tried to make sure that the kids knew I loved them & wanted them to be safe, happy, secure little beings. Our story is unique in the sense that 3 of the kids now live with us full-time, their biological mother is not in the picture & they (on their own), have come to call me Mom. 

Enough background for me to share what the entire point of this post is??? 

Two books that have helped save me from numerous breakdowns & moments of "what the hell am I doing???"  
1.) The Five Love Languages, The Secret to Love that Lasts Gary Chapman 
While this has nothing to do with children, step-parenting, being a does really put into perspective the different ways people love. While I was able to pin-point Justin's love language early on, I actually struggled to figure out what exactly I needed in return. This book has helped us grow stronger together & figure out how to communicate with love.

2.) The 5 Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell
Now, I did not get to experience the joy of carrying my children for 9 months in my womb, nor did I share in the beauty of their births. Instead I came into the picture when the twins were 2 & littlest Leader was a fresh 1 year old. I will be the first to tell you that something truly amazing, & life changing happens when you have a child grow inside of you for 9 months, a bond is formed unlike any other you will encounter in life.
Since I didn't share that specific bond with our children, I have had to figure out their Love Languages in other ways. Thanks to this book I can tell you what Love Language each of the kids are needing at a certain point, something that I believe will help our relationships through time & give us new bonds instead of the traditional ones. 

I could go on for a very long time about how I feel about these children, & how that I hope even when the teenage drama-filled years arrive we are still as close & intertwined as we are today. I could share with you the number of nights I've spent lying awake in bed, agonizing over my role in their lives, or the numerous times I've awoken from a nightmare where they had disappeared from my life. For me, I haven't ever loved a child as much as I love these 3. I'm thankful everyday that I did something, something right that allowed my path to cross with their father's & that we were able, against all odds, to build this little Leader family. 

From here on out, I'm going to try to not use the phrase step-parent or step-mother, as I think they are nasty things with horrible connotations attached to them. 
I'm a mother. Anyone who has a problem with that, can kindly go take a cyber-hike. 

Now, I'm going to leave you with something I stumbled upon on Pinterest(I know I have an addiction), that I believe can help any woman who is experiencing motherhood in any form...

as always, love from alaska

p.s. I realize that this post may come across a bit aggressive, or harsh in terms of the ways I highlighted the negativity that surrounds being a step-parent, especially a step-mother. When I write posts like these, I can only draw from my own life experiences, my feelings & the things I've held onto. In no way did I mean to presume that every step-mother is more of a fairy-godmother than a wicked witch, all I was trying to do was give some perspective from the other pages of the story. Being a mother or a step-mother is not easy, for every brilliant & wonderful day there is one filled with temper-tantrums, agonizing doubt over the parenting choices you've made & a bottomless pit of worry, tears, questions & a never ending supply of dirty laundry. 
Basically, in a modern-day society where parenting roles are changing away from being 100% traditional to being something much more broad & unique.
I just want everyone to give the support & love to any parent you meet in your life. For we are all sharing some of the same struggles & hardships, in the end we all want what is best for our little one's futures.  
This is really the end for now... :)