At eighteen, I had a lot going for me. I was just starting to figure out what self esteem consisted of, was enjoying my college career, worked a bunch of jobs, and was blissfully single with a few close friends that staved off the random bouts of loneliness. I was young, responsible, and was just starting to figure out what I thought my future would look like.

Then, I met him.

He was tall, with dark hair, and nice eyes – the whole shah-bang. I was hooked, and falling fast. He was five years older but I never dated anyone my age anyway. Something about older guys knowing exactly what they wanted and not wasting my time with careless and meaningless flirtation drew me to them more than guys my age, who were more into quick flings and reckless one night stands. But anyway, this guy seemed perfect, and I’ll never forget when he pulled out his phone, and instead of asking for my cell phone number said: “Do you want to see a picture of my son?”

The baby in question was 9 months old, and ridiculously, unfathomably adorable. I stared at the photo for a long time, thinking that the rational part of me should promptly get up and say, “Well, good luck with single parenthood and baby momma drama!” and run for the hills. But I didn’t. Curious and maybe a bit naive, I wanted to see where this would go.

Ironically, it was the best decision I have ever made.

Fast forward to almost three years later and we’re a happy family. As I write this, I remember our story of how we became a family with happiness, love, and maybe a little heartbreak. Becoming a step parent is no easy task, and I commend anyone who, like me, took a giant leap of faith to help raise a child that was not their own, especially at such a young age.

So now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why in the hell I would, at 18 years old, decide that I want to help raise another woman’s 9 month old baby, and that answer is so simple yet irrevocably complicated at the same time.

I came from a broken home, but my home wasn’t officially broken until I was about 13. I understood what was happening, and despite some initial confusion in the very beginning, I eventually figured out that my parents hated each other, not me, and moved on with a little help of my stepmother.

This little boy, on the other hand, had no clue what was happening. He didn’t understand that the reason he was properly cared for at one home and neglected in another wasn’t his fault. He was going to grow up wondering what it was like to have a mother and father figure that actually loved each other almost as much as they loved him. There was (and still is) so much drama revolving around both households and I feared that despite everyone’s best efforts, he’d grow up like I did: feeling alone, unwanted, and at times unloved. I met this 9 month old baby shortly after I fell head over heels in love with his dad, and I realized this was exactly where I was meant to be. I looked into this little boy’s eyes and I saw someone that was so happy and innocent, and whose happiness and innocence I wanted to help preserve.

In retrospect, I know I’ll never be his “real” mom, but I’ll be damned if I don’t treat him like he’s my “real” son. Helping to raise another woman’s child has taught me so much about family, love, and selflessness that I sometimes wonder how lost I would have been had I not gone down this path. I would have missed out on so much happiness and fulfillment had I not stayed to watch him grow and learn. At 21 now, I wouldn’t trade a second of it all even despite those terrible two tantrums and predicted baby momma drama. The most important thing I’ve learned about helping to raise another woman’s child, after all, is that it is so, so worth it.

featured image source jamesAnn photography

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 now!

Order Now

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading

God Chose Me to Be the Mother of a Wild One

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman holding child on the beach, black-and-white photo

It was just another typical fall morning. There was a time change so you were a little extra sleepy (also known as grouchy) but nothing too out of the ordinary. In a split second, that all changed, and the reality of what it is like to live with an unbelievably relentless little human set in like never before. I sat on your bedroom floor, laundry scattered all around, and literally watched my tears fall to the ground. I was on my knees. Physically on my knees just begging you to stop or begging God to give me patience. I don’t...

Keep Reading

I’m Raising a Fearless Daughter

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl on playground

Imagine you are at the playground with your kid(s), and you look over to see someone else’s kid launching themselves off the tallest tower on the entire playground. You feel your heart stop for a second, you suck in a sharp breath. You think to yourself, or maybe you even say it out loud, “Oh my gosh!” That kid—the one who is always finding the most dangerous way to do literally everything? That’s my kid. Truthfully, that’s both my kids, my youngest just isn’t tall enough to join in on the real danger yet. RELATED: Raising a Wild Child Is...

Keep Reading