Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Recently I read two articles from Amy Bellows, Ph.D. about remarriage, blended families and stepparents on Psych Central. The author talked about how many women wouldn’t marry a family again if they had the choice and that there are little to no helpful resources in dealing with re-coupling and step mothering in blended families despite the fact that according to the U.S. Bureau of Census, 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed every day. The result is that over 50% of U.S. families are actually blended families.

Mind blowing, isn’t it?

I was born and raised in the same family. My parents started dating when they were teenagers and got married when they found out a surprise (that would be me) was on the way. They’ve been together for 40 years and married for 37 years. When I grew up all of my uncles and aunts were married. Not one of them was divorced.

My grandmother was the only one who remarried and only because my grandfather passed away in a car accident when I was 2 years old. Then the friendly neighbor across the street I used to call “Uncle Horst” became my “Grandpa Horst” sometime when I was around 4 years old, but he didn’t have any children of his own, so there was no family to blend with. You could say I had no idea what it meant to be divorced or remarried.

When I met my husband for the first time, he was still married to his first wife. I was 17 years old and thought to myself, “The poor devil is 20 years old and married with children” and “That will certainly not happen to me” *snorting naively*. In hindsight, I probably jinxed myself right then and there, but what did I know at 17 years old?

He came from a family where almost every person was separated, divorced, remarried, had children with several partners, or brought children into a new relationship. He was raised by his mom and stepdad and grew up with two of his siblings and three of his stepsiblings. All in all, my husband has 2 brothers and 2 sisters, 2 half-sisters, and 4 stepbrothers and 2 stepsisters; whereas I grew up with my mom and my dad and 2 sisters.

I couldn’t even fathom how crazy his upbringing must have been. Yet, he told me he had a happy childhood and loved growing up in a blended family. There were times where he missed his dad and other brothers and sisters, but he learned to live with it and make the best of it. I was impressed.

Fast forward two years later from the day we met and he was divorced with two children. We were still friends and I had witnessed how a happy-go-lucky guy at the young age of 22 lost the most precious thing he possessed: his children. He was heart-broken and sad and finally he began to realize how his parents might have felt when they decided to divorce after 5 kids and more than a decade of marriage.

It was the first time in my life that I witnessed a separation and the heartache that comes with the aftermath. I decided for myself that I would never be in these shoes — never say never. I supported him as a friend and through that we became closer and closer.

In the beginning I strongly denied having feelings for him, and when my mom said, “He’s such a good guy, why don’t you give him a chance?” I told her that she must’ve lost her mind and that I could not, would not deal with all of his “baggage”. To make a long story short: 7 months after that we lived together and were getting ready to get married (that’s another story).

The point of this story is that I actually considered the “baggage” I was getting myself into, but I had no idea whatsoever what exactly the “baggage” entailed. I had no experience. My family had no experience. We were starry-eyed through and through.

The first year of our marriage was hard. I kept telling myself that if we made it through the first year that it would get easier. It was wishful thinking. Now 16 years later, I can say the first 7 years were hard. They included tears, fights, long walks around the block, screaming into the woods, cursing, misunderstandings, name-calling, court battles, heartaches, thousands of dollars spent on travel, lawyers, and court proceedings, lies, withholding, neglect, and depression.

I am glad the time has passed and we made it out in one piece, but if anybody told me I could have a do-over, could I, would I do it again knowing what I know today?

Q: Do I love my husband?

A: Yes, I adore him.

Q: Is he a good father?

A: Yes, he is an excellent father.

Then why would I say what I just did?

Simple… as a stepmother, I’ve been called names, blamed for things I had nothing to do with, talked behind my back, badmouthed, lied to and about, used and abused, mistreated, misunderstood, and all because I actually tried to be exactly the opposite of the common perception of “The Evil Stepmom”.

I never demanded or asked for anything. I never made anyone choose. I never lied about their mother. I never treated her unkind. I never forgot their birthdays or a holiday. I never whined about how much money we spent on travel, child support, court costs, lawyers, or on the children.

During that time, I never told my husband all I really wanted to do is run away.

I cried… I cried when we picked them up at the airport. I cried when we dropped them off. I cried when we called them. I cried when I tried my best and it wasn’t good enough. I cried when they told me they were not allowed to talk about us without getting in trouble at home. I cried when they told me they weren’t allowed to call me mom. I cried when they told me I’m not their real mom.

I cried when I wanted my own baby. A baby I didn’t have to give back. I cried when I watched my husband deflate upon returning his children. I cried when one decided he didn’t need to visit anymore. I cried when that same one wouldn’t return a phone call or a text message. I cried because there was nothing I could do. I cried a lot.

Now both of these children are grown up. They are adults. One is 21 years old and the other is 18 years old. They can make their own decision. They do not remember anything other than growing up in a blended family, but I hope they will remember:

  1. Their stepmom tried the best she could with what she had even if it was perceived as “trying too hard”.
  2. Their stepmom never gave up believing in them and believing things could be different.
  3. Their stepmom is still standing strong side by side with their dad.
  4. Their stepmom loves them no matter what, even though she does not like everything they say or do.
  5. Their stepmom put more effort into parenting than what was expected of her.

Since I realized #5, I am feeling at peace with my decision having married a guy who had a family before he met me.

I am proud of myself. (yes, I said it out loud!)

Although the last 16+ years of our marriage have not always been easy, I can say that it made me the mother I am today. I am strong. I am fierce. I am tough. I am loving. I am caring. I am patient. I am their mother – and nobody can change how I feel about them and have felt about them. For if I hadn’t loved them from the start, I for sure wouldn’t have endured a minute of the crazy I’ve been put through.

Are you considering remarriage?

Are you living in a blended family?

Have you been raised in a blended family?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and words of wisdom.

Please share them with all of us in the comment section.

“The greatest love you can have for your friends [*family] is to give your life for them.” (John 15:13)

Photo credit: Pensiero via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Nina Leicht-Crist

Nina Leicht-Crist was born and raised in Southern Germany. Midwifery has been a lifelong passion, though after a long agonizing battle with (in)fertility, she quit working in prenatal and maternity care to pursue a career in writing and translating from home, so she could stay at home and raise her miracle babies. In 2017 Nina self-published an autobiography titled "Love, Faith & Infertility - a story of hope and special forces" hoping it would give someone the strength to keep going on their path to parenthood. It is available on Amazon.

Yes, We Wanted a Big Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big family silhouette

Baby number WHAT?!?! Okay, okay, I know having FIVE children in the modern world is a bit of an anomaly, but the responses we have gotten from sharing our joyful (to us!) news has been a bit over-the-top. You see, my husband and I always dreamt of a big family, verbally expressing four to five children as our ultimate number. After having three, I must say I had to do some convincing to keep going, as my husband felt our hands were pretty full. I do agree our hands were pretty full, but I still felt our hearts could handle...

Keep Reading

How Much Longer Will I Watch Them Play?

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two boys at indoor playground, color photo

As I sit here watching my two boys running around on the bright-colored foam mats, sliding down the bright red and green slides that end up in a ball pit full of giggles, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I will enjoy this sight. They’re both growing up so fast—T-shirts with their favorite characters have been replaced by plain colors.  Curtains with Paw Patrol now invite an “Eww, cringe!” reaction. Slowly their boy bedroom decor has been updated to reflect the cool gamers they so want to be. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer No...

Keep Reading

God Gave Him Bigger Feelings

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy on playground, color photo

He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?” And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful. He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I. And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills...

Keep Reading

We Have a Big Family and Wouldn’t Change a Thing

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four children in front of Christmas tree, color photo

I have just had my fourth baby. A baby who wasn’t expected but very much wanted and very much loved from the moment we found out. When we told people we were expecting, the response was underwhelming. The stream of intrusive questions would then ensue:  You already have your hands full, how will you cope with four? You’ll need a bigger car! Where will they all sleep? Don’t you own a TV? You know how babies are made right? People seemed to have such a strong opinion about me having a fourth child. RELATED: We Had a Lot of Kids...

Keep Reading

As a Mom I’m Far From Perfect, But I Hope You Remember the Joy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Happy mother and daughter on the beach

Sometimes, I think about the future when you are grown and I am gone. When all that’s left of me are photographs and memories. I know what the photographs will show. I took most of them, after all. But the memories I’m less sure of. I wonder what will stick with you after all that time. How will you remember me? One day, your grandkids will ask you about me. What will you say? Will you tell them I was always distracted? Will you remember that I looked at my phone too much? Will you tell them I didn’t play...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading

The PB&J that Saved the Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Table with three plates of PB&J sandwiches, color photo

It was one of those days.  One of those days when your pants are too tight, you wake up with a headache, and the kids’ rooms are disasters at 8 a.m. It was one of those days when I had to physically go into Target for our groceries since I didn’t have time to wait for pickup—I think that alone should sum up exactly the kind of day it was.  The kids were hangry. The toddler was, well, toddler-y. RELATED: Toddlers Are Human Too—And Sometimes They Just Need Grace Two minutes into our shopping trip, she had kicked her light-up rain...

Keep Reading

One Day He’ll Love Another Woman More than He Loves Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

To Benjamin, my 16-month-old son, I am everything. I am the first person that boy looks for when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants before he goes to bed. If he is in a room full of people he loves and I am not there, he will search for me.  If he has a problem, mommy is the solution. I am the answer to his cries. I feel confident in saying that I am the most important person in that little boy’s little world. I love it. It is an honor and a privilege...

Keep Reading

To My Sister, Thank You For Being the Best Aunt To My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Aunt with three young kids

“Do you have the kids’ basketball schedule yet?” you texted the other day. I sent back a screenshot of the calendar, and within an hour you responded telling me which game you’d be coming to. It was a simple exchange, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for my kids in that moment. It’s something I think often but don’t say nearly enough: thank you for being such an amazing aunt. Truly.  I know it’s not always convenient. You live three hours away and have a busy, full life of your own—but still, you show up for your niece and nephews...

Keep Reading

In Defense of the Stubborn Child

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy hanging over dock, color photo

“Lamp. Lamp. Laaaaamp,” my 2-year-old son screamed while stomping his feet. Tears were running down his face and snot was dripping dangerously close to his mouth. I put on what I hoped would be a soothing, motherly tone, “Okay, just calm down.” While trying to maintain eye contact, I slowly reached toward the tissue box. This must be what the greats like Jeff Corwin, Steve Irwin, or the Kratt brothers feel like when facing a volatile animal in the wild. The sound of a tissue being pulled from the box caused the crying to stop abruptly. His eyes flitted toward...

Keep Reading