Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Wicked Stepmom

Lauren and Katie
When I was a little girl, "Cinderella" was one of my all time favorite children's stories.  I watched the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of it on TV and danced around singing the songs and imagining myself wearing the beautiful dress with all the dazzling sparkles.   Oh how grand it would be to be a princess!  ("In my own little corner, in my own little room, I can be whatever I want to be.") I'm rather amazed at this moment that I still remember the words to that song!  Go figure!  Childhood dreams seemed to disappear as I reached adolescence and were replace by more realistic aspirations. Maybe I'd just be a teacher.  After all, there isn't much of a demand for a princess in Texas anymore.  In all my dreaming and aspiring I am absolutely certain that I never once wanted to be the wicked stepmother in the story.  As fate would have it, all the princess jobs were taken and it was my lot in life to become, you guessed it, the stepmother.  

Now I've never considered myself wicked, but I use to worry about what my reaction would be when I heard the dreaded words, "You're not my mother!". If they ever thought it, they never said it and I'm eternally thankful to 3 step daughters that I never had to find out.  There are some things in life that we don't need reminded of as a step parent.  

When my step daughters were young I use to pray all the time that I would be a good step mom and that I would love them like they deserved to be loved.  For some people this may come naturally.  For me, it was a source of anxiety and self doubt.  Was I being fair?  Would I make the same decision if this was my own child?  Am I showing them enough love?  Did I spend enough time with them when they were here?  Could I ever possibly love them as much as I love my own daughters?  The list was long.  It's so much easier to fuss at your own children and then forget about it.  When you fuss at your step children you tend to keep thinking about it and trying to justify your position.  

A couple of Jokers!
My oldest step daughter Lauren Elizabeth turned 21 this year.  For her birthday Gary and I took her and her friend, Katie, to Las Vegas.  We had a great time and they loved the shopping, eating, site seeing, shows and yes, even a few slots.  It was a fun trip and we all had a blast.  

The girls flight left earlier than ours so I told them goodbye the night before and Gary got up and made sure they were headed to the airport on time.  We caught our flight a few hours later and they called to let us know they had landed.  They had a 2 hour drive from the airport back to college.  We got home and unpacked and then we got the call that no parent wants to ever get.  The girls were involved in an accident on the highway and were being transported by ambulance to a hospital in Austin.

A million questions racing through my mind all at once.  Some things too horrible to even verbalize.  Lauren's mom was already on the way to Austin.  We were debating what to do.
No flights out until morning and the drive would take us 6 hours.  The details were sketchy at best and we were unsure of their injuries.  I suggested calling the hospital and seeing if we could talk to someone in the emergency room.  When we got hold of the E.R. nurse the girls were still being evaluated and they said we could talk with Lauren if we called back in 15-20 minutes.  I retreated to my room and prayed.  When we finally got to talk to Lauren it was evident that she was very medicated.  She had no memory of what happened and still doesn't to this day.  We were told that she had non life threatening injuries and would be moved to a room when one was available.  Since we weren't Katie's parents we couldn't be told about her condition.  

11 o'clock at night with no hopes of seeing your child until the next morning is not when you want to hear that they are moving her to CCU because she has a possible brain injury.
I couldn't quit crying.  I wanted to be there to hold her and tell her it was all going to be OK.  Was she scared?  How much pain was she in?  Did she wonder where we were?  Did I kiss her goodbye the night before she left?  Suddenly the last haunting question that had plagued me for years was answered.  I do love her as much as I love my own girls.  It hurt just as bad as if she were my own flesh and blood.  I couldn't have been any more upset or any more worried.  She is a part of me even if I didn't give birth to her.

Lauren had a bruised liver brain and lungs, a cut on the back of her head, a broken pelvis and numerous other bruises and scrapes.  Katie required surgery to repair her broken arm and she also had a cut on the back of her head and numerous bruises and scrapes.  From the looks of the car it was nothing short of a miracle they survived.  Their seats appeared to be a cocoon where angels kept watch as the rest of the car smashed in around them.  The contents of their luggage exploded all around the countryside and Lauren's bible was found beside the passenger side door.  It was retrieved by the tow truck driver who did his best to gather all the belongings for the families of the victims.  He was surprised to learn that the occupants of the car were alive.  When Katie's dad asked him if he believed in God, he handed over the bible and said, "I do now."  

Being a stepmom takes courage.  Courage to love when you think you can't and courage to believe that God will supply what you lack.  Courage to let their mom be their mom and to find your place in their lives.  I'm thankful for a God who loves me enough to show me in the midst of such turmoil that He answered my prayer somewhere along the way and has now removed my doubt.  Isn't that just like HIM?

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