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All of it. Every single moment. Every single bump, bruise, and scar you weren’t there for. All of the things you missed—their first steps, first words, and first day of school.

When your stepchild sits next to you and you notice how much they look like someone you don’t know. Or someone you don’t like. When you look at your stepchild and can’t help but feel a pang of guilt as you wish they had your eyes instead.

You’re allowed to grieve.

You’re allowed to look through baby pictures and wonder what it would be like if you had been there, how your relationship would be different if they didn’t call you by your first name. You’re allowed to sift through pictures and grieve all the big and small moments you were robbed of.

You’re allowed to grieve.

But when you get stuck in the “what could have been,” when you struggle to make peace with the past, when you struggle to forgive those who have hurt you and the ones you love, choose to focus on the “what is to come.”

RELATED: So God Made A Stepmom

Choose to focus on all the moments ahead of you. When you and your stepchild share a secret smile or a joke between just the two of you, remember there is still so much good ahead. When you’re the one they ask for when they can’t sleep, remember that moment. Fold it up like a note and keep it in your pocket for the days when they don’t want you.

You may not have been there for all the firsts, but you’ll be there for all of the lasts.

Their last day of high school. Their last baby tooth. The last time you carry them up the stairs after a long day and lay them gently in their bed.

Stepmama, you’re allowed to grieve the firsts you missed with your husband. You’re allowed to be disappointed when you feel like your marriage is put on the back-burner, when you haven’t been on a date in six months and you feel like your life revolves around co-parenting schedules and court dates. You’re allowed to look forward to the days when it’s just you and your husband. You’re allowed to wonder what it would be like if there wasn’t an ex in the picture.

You’re allowed to grieve.

RELATED: What I’ve Learned From Being a Stepmom

But when the grief feels too heavy. When you find yourself broken, and asking God why He allowed this to happen, lift your eyes to the one who makes all things work together for your good. This may not be what you would have chosen. This may not be what you expected.

But maybe, just maybe, you were made for such a time as this.

Maybe when your stepchild walks across the stage at graduation, or when they give you a tearful goodbye before they leave for college, maybe you will see then they needed you just as much as you needed them. Maybe your relationship with your stepchild will never be perfect, or even close to it.

RELATED: A Stepmom and Her Stepchildren Grow Together

But maybe you’ll see the love and appreciation they have for you, in the way they cry for you when they get scared in the middle of the night, or the way they come to you for advice when they feel stuck.

You may not have given life to your stepchild, but God chose you to be a light in their life, no matter what. Through all of the joyful and difficult times ahead, you will be there. So you’re allowed to grieve, stepmama. But remember to rejoice too.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Amy Williams

Amy is a freelance writer who believes in the life-giving power of the written word. With a bachelor's degree in English and endless notebooks to fill, she writes about marriage, motherhood, and the faith that keeps her going each day. When she's not chasing her children around, she's either reading or writing, most likely while drinking an enormous cup of coffee.

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