“You don’t love my family as much as you love yours, and you don’t treat us all the same.”
This emotional outburst from my sixteen-year-old stepdaughter stopped me in my tracks. Where had these hurtful words come from? What had I done to cause her to be so upset with me that she would lash out in such anger?
I was crushed, deeply hurt, and in complete disbelief that she would even confront me this way. No doubt she resents me for marrying her father only a year after her mother passed away. And now she’s part of a blended family of seven children. I realize it’s a big adjustment for her, for all of us. What is in her heart? How can I reach her?
Days following her outburst, she was still withdrawn and not very communicative, but it was obvious her attitude was a little better. What made her change? Had the outburst helped release her frustration with this new family arrangement – and with me? Whatever it was, I was thankful for it.
I tried to get close to her, to at least be her friend. It was okay that she didn’t call me Mom as her younger brother and sister did. I knew I wasn’t really the “wicked stepmother” that I felt like when I was around her, but I still wondered if she saw me that way.
By the time she went away to college our relationship showed signs of improvement. She married and began a family, and somewhere during that time, became a Christian. Both her life and attitude began to improve. Then one day, she took me by surprise.
“I’m sorry for the way I treated you when I lived at home. Will you please forgive me?”
Tears filled my eyes as she spoke.
“Yes, of course, I will,” I said.
I asked her to forgive me for anything I might have done o hurt her. She couldn’t respond, but with tears in her eyes, gently nodded her head yes. We hugged for a long time. I’m so glad for the change in her. What a neat young woman she has become.
This was the beginning of a relationship that would only improve with time. Yet I sensed she still struggled with who I was to her. Obviously, I was not her birth mother, although I had always done “motherly” things with and for her. She could introduce her husband and me as her parents, but I knew it was still difficult for her to introduce me as her mom. It didn’t matter to me how she referred to me. Our relationship had improved so much that now we were friends, and to me, that was the most important thing of all.
But just recently I was sitting with her in the church. The pastor asked everyone to turn to their neighbor and share something for which they were thankful.
She turned to me, patted my arm, and said,
“I’m thankful for – my bonus mom.”
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