On June 14, 2015, I said “I do” to my wonderful husband, Reed. However, it wasn’t just Reed and God that I made a promise to that day. When I became Reed’s wife, I also became a stepmom to his 4-year-old son, Landon.
I’ll never forget the first words out of Landon’s mouth when we picked him up after returning from our honeymoon. “You and Daddy are married now, and that means you are stuck together like glue!” he said with his fingers laced together, pretending they were stuck together with glue.
I remember a twinge of nervousness realizing just how true his statement was.
The next few months were full of superheroes, bugs, and magic tricks, but also a lot of tears and confusion. I struggled to understand my role in Landon’s life and navigate the dynamics of a blended family, not to mention figuring out the whole marriage thing as well! I began seeking out stepmom resources anywhere I could. I bought a bunch of books, and I read a lot of blog posts. I even watched the movie Stepmom with Julia Roberts. (talk about a tearjerker!) I talked to my husband, parents, friends, mentors, and even a counselor, but no one could satisfy my deepest desire—to talk to someone who understood.
Eventually, I found myself going to the internet to make stepmom friends. I joined stepmom Facebook groups and a stepmom coaching community. I was desperate for advice, counsel, and someone to tell me that I wasn’t crazy and that I—we—would be okay. These groups helped, but ultimately my heart still longed for a real-life, in-person stepmom friend. We were new to our church, but in my desperation, I emailed an elder I had met to see if he knew anyone at the church who was a stepmom. After some digging around, he found one! I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t alone!
She was kind, open, and honest. We swapped stories and feelings over chips and salsa, and I hadn’t felt so free in months. Finally, I was talking to someone who understood. During one point of the conversation, my new friend looked at me and said, “You get to choose: Do you want to be a redemptive part of Landon’s story or part of the problem?”
From that night on, I made a promise to myself and to the Lord that I would be a redemptive aspect of my stepson’s story. Yes, he has to divide his time between two homes, and yes, he doesn’t get to be with both of his parents every day, but this doesn’t mean that he can’t have a life full of love and joy and learning about Jesus. I knew then and there that I didn’t want to be part of the problem; I wanted to be part of the solution.
It hasn’t been perfect. It’s been messy and hard and sanctifying, but God has been faithful through it all. I am forever grateful for this sweet stepmom friend who took the time to speak life into my ailing heart. But the reality is that I am not alone. There are many stepmoms that are hurting and longing for connection but are struggling to find it in their church communities. In fact, remember those internet stepmom friends? Well, in one of those groups, I am connected to over 5,000 Christian stepmoms. I recently polled them to find out a few things. Here is what I uncovered:
When asked, “What do you wish your church had available to you?“, 65% of the responses said they wished their church had opportunities for community with other stepmoms and 65% said they wished for more resources to help them as wives, moms, and stepmoms. Another 20% wished for more opportunities to fellowship with other Christian women.
I think it’s safe to say stepmoms are looking for community.
I also asked them, “What’s one thing you wish you could tell church leaders about your experience as a stepmom?” Here’s a taste of some of their responses:
- It’s hard, but it’s rewarding. We love these kids as our own, and it makes us parents even though there’s another mom in the picture still. We need a ministry unique to our situation.
- There is so much they don’t see. We are working hard in tough circumstances to not be another statistic.
- It is different from being a mom. But at the same time, we are moms! I was not accepted by other moms in our church until I became a biological mom, even though we had 50/50 custody.
- My marriage and home are no less Christ-centered because I’m not the first wife or the mother of the children.
- The love we have for our stepchildren is chosen. Unconditional and challenging. Most of us have emotional baggage and need support to fight our battles. We love hard, endure a lot, and chose to do it every day. Don’t forget about us.
- Validate us! Encourage us! See our role as important work in spreading the gospel.
Finally, I asked them, “What do you think churches could do to help support you as a stepmom, as well as your family as a whole?” Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
- Foster stepmom communities
- Get educated on blended family dynamics
- Acknowledge blended families in your congregation and make efforts to connect them to one another
- Provide more resources
- Consider varying event dates to include children that have to move between homes
The list goes on, but the sentiment behind each response is the same. Stepmoms are longing for community in the Church, the acknowledgment that blended families exist, resources to help them grow, and to be remembered and seen.
Most of the Christian stepmoms I’ve met have a sincere desire to be part of that redemptive story in their stepchildren’s lives, and with your help, a strong community, and a whole lot of prayer, I am confident God will use us to do just that.
P.S. This summer, Reed, Landon and I will celebrate 4 years together as a family. I’m happy to say that by the grace of God, we are still stuck together like glue.
Mickey Pitts serves as a Marriage & Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources. She is passionate about equipping couples with tools to help their marriages and families thrive. Mickey loves ministering to women and coaches women’s Bible study leaders in her local church. Mickey and her husband Reed live in Spring Hill, TN, with her 7-year-old stepson, Landon, and a crazy Wheaten Terrier named Dexter.