Introducing Angie…the recipient of May’s Bonus Mom Award!
TBG: Tell me about how you met your husband, how many kids do you have and how did you prepare to be an “instant mom?”
Angie: My husband and I actually met at work. We were in separate departments. We started dating 8 years ago and we’ve been married for seven. When we got together, my stepson was only two…today he’s ten! I have a bio-son who is six.
When my husband and I first got married, the abandonment issues were tough to deal with and I felt horrible and inadequate…I just didn’t know how to handle my stepson’s issues at that time.
TBG: What’s been your biggest challenge being a step mom?
Angie: Learning I could not fix my stepson’s broken heart. I thought I could fill the hole his mother left. He cried all the time and he was so angry. I thought if I could be “just mom,” everything would be fine.
What took me a few years to realize is that I didn’t break him and I can’t fix him. I can’t change his mom or the past. What I can do is support him and help him deal with the issues. Ultimately, he is responsible for fixing his own issues and I hope to teach him how to best cope inside his circumstances.
Another big challenge for me was that I was never quite sure what my exact role was. I’m not the mom but I do all the mom things. It’s very ambiguous. And then I found Cathryn Bond-Doyle’s online forum, SMOMS and I realized after reading all the stories, that I was not alone. That was a HUGE relief!
TBG: What’s another a-ha moment for you?
Angie: After realizing that I’m not the mom and figuring out my role in my stepson’s life, I realized that I was angry all the time. Forgiveness, I believe, has played a huge part in how I see my role these days.
TBG: Tell me more
Angie: Everybody makes mistakes – me, my husband, my stepson, my stepson’ mom…every one of us. Some mistakes are bigger than others, but no matter what, we all make mistakes. I first had to forgive all the clumsy mistakes I made because I didn’t know how to be a mom. I know I made the struggle worse than it had to be.
Then I forgave my stepson’s mom for walking out on him and I forgave my stepson for being part of a situation that he never asked for. Forgiving all the players and letting go of the anger completely changed everything. Letting go of the past made me realize that my stepson’s mom is who she is and I had to accept that.
I also realized that in my anger towards her, I didn’t allow her the space to make parenting mistakes. By forgiving her I accepted that she is the mom she is. My stepson deserves to know that and his mom deserves to be his mom….just as she is.
TBG: Wow…that’s powerful stuff!
Angie: Once I stopped closing her out, my stepson’s mom and I actually began to work together instead of against each other. As long as I was focused on the negative, I stayed stuck in the negative.
TBG: What’s been your biggest reward being a step mom?
Angie: Watching my boys love each other. Watching their relationship grow and blossom. My stepson is very protective of his younger brother and I see in them this amazing unconditional acceptance and love they have for each other.
TBG: You mentioned this on the SMOM forum and I want to know more about the Commitment Ceremony you are planning for your stepson. How did this come about?
Angie: Over the past several months, I noticed that my stepson had become withdrawn, sullen. One night I asked him to write down his feelings and how he felt about them. What he wrote surprised me: “You married dad, you didn’t marry me.”
I tried explaining to him how I helped and supported his dad while he fought for custody. But after talking, I realized that he needed something concrete. Something he could remember. Something that was a physical act and not just words spoken or written down.
My stepson’s biggest issue is insecurity. He gets worried when he has to go to his mom’s for the summer. One day after church, I spoke briefly with my minister and she gave me something to chew on.
My minister proposed that my stepson may be thinking, “why would they want me back? Why wouldn’t they turn their back on me?”
I woke up the next morning with the idea of holding a commitment ceremony. Both my mom and my husband thought it was a good idea. We’re doing this on May 31 at our church. It’s going to be something my stepson will always remember…we all will.
TBG: What will the minister say during this ceremony?
Angie: The proposed sermon will be on the importance of family and Joseph’s role in Jesus’ life…after all, Joseph was a stepfather! We’re making a family commitment before God and I’m giving both boys a cross to remember this day by.
Angie: Remember that your step kids’ mom is human, too. She has reasons and motives behind her actions and they may not make sense to you, but they do to her (this goes both ways in life). So, for just a split second, try to put the shoe on the other foot and then see what you think of her!
On second marriages: Don’t let the labels mean anything to you. It may be the second or tenth, but it’s YOURS. Just look at your husband as finally getting it right.
On step kids: “Hate me if you want, but love me if you can.”
TBG: Thanks Angie! It was great talking to you!
To read more about Angie and her boys, you can visit her at Just Another Mom 2009