There is something missing in my parenting knowledge base. I am a step-parent. I have never given birth to a child. So I don't have that deep connection that most mothers have with the children they've birthed. From what I understand, this can be an issue for mixed families. That missing connection between a person who is a parental figure and the child.
This has led to a stuggle for understanding at times. I've been ashamed by this fact, but the truth is, my child has offended me many times. This is not just hurt feelings. It is darkness in my heart, surrounded by so much barbed wire you can't even tell a heart is in there.
Before my husband and I got married, I prayed for God to help me keep a soft heart toward this child because I knew, going into it, things wouldn't be easy. For the first four months of our marriage, I thought I was doing pretty good. What I didn't realize was, I was in the honeymoon stage and I hadn't seen anything yet.
My step-son was diagnosed with several behavioral issues at a very young age. On top of that, he's adopted. Not to mention a bunch of not-so-plesant life stuff that occured in his first nine years of living.
I tell myself all the time that I can't take things personally when it comes to my son. Yet, I still find myself attemping to unwind barbed wire from around my heart. I know he has been given reason after reason not to trust people in authority. I know he has deep wounds in his heart and also has sharp jagged edges around it, trying to protect himself. Sometimes if feels like we're rubbing the barbed wire from around each others hearts together and all it does it cause sparks.
The first time I got offended was four months after my husband and I got married. It was summer break, I'd quit my job just a week or so before so our son could stay at home and play with his friends instead of going to day camp. (Also so I could persue my writing dreams.) My husband was at work and I'd asked my son to complete a task of some sort. He didn't want to, and the honeymoon ended.
It wasn't the first time I'd seen him act out of control, but it was the first time it was directed toward me. All I could think was, "Why me? What have I done to deserve this?" I was offended. After all, I'd quit my job to build a relationship with him. I had a Pinterest page full of fun things for the two of us to do together. I'd PRAYED. So why was this happening?
Of course I knew. He thought he'd found my buttons and was trying to push them. When my husband came home, his buttons were pushed. After a couple days of processing and thinking, and talking to my husband, and crying, I was able to let go of that first offence. I was able to see the reason behind it and forgive my son for the way he'd behaved.
Turns out though, those weren't my buttons he'd pushed that day, he'd just caught me off guard. But, eventually, he did find them. And he pushed them, and does still push them from time to time. But we're both getting better. Over the past three years, the barbed wire has come and gone many times, but more recently it's been gone more often than it's been there. My heart has a thick skin on it now that can take blows more easily, forgive more easily, and be surprised by less.
God has brought me a long way in the process. Without Him, I'm not sure I would have been able to forgive and let go of that first offence. I would be a mess. But I'm not. And the only reason, the ONLY reason, I'm not a complete mess now is because I clung to the things God told me about this child before I became a part of this family.
There have been times when I've felt like I couldn't give anymore than I'd already given, and in those times, God would nudge me. He would remind me of things He's told me. Bring some kind of encouragment my way, and it would always be just enough for me to turn my face back to my Savior and ask for his help.
He has been so faithful in this jouney. He has shown me how much strength I have. Everytime I think I've reached my limit, God shows me I can go a little further. He's shown me new depths to His love, and pushes me to love with His love, even when I don't think I can.
I may not have a blood connection with my son, but as I reflect on the journey of being a mom these past three years, I think God has brought me to a place that has given me a better understanding of that connection. It's been an incredibly difficult road to travel, and there are still some boulders in the way, but I know that God will will get me there and I'll be even stronger than I am now.