Connection

Mommy Isn't Fine

By Becky Beresford

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I cry at everything. All the time, all the feels. I wish I could blame it on pregnancy or having three kids, but the truth is I’ve been this way my entire life. Growing up, I used to be ashamed of my deep emotions. I’d hide behind fake smiles and well-timed nods. Happy moods were okay to express, but negative ones were another ordeal. I was labeled “sensitive,” which wasn’t a good thing coming from the labeler. It wasn’t until recently that I took this label as a compliment. It’s how God has made me. I like who I am. I’m thankful for my feels.

As I’ve stepped into motherhood, however, I’ve felt myself struggle again. It’s easy to believe that to raise emotionally “stable” kids, we have to keep it all together. We can’t show them our struggles. We can’t let them know we are in pain. Everything’s fine. Mommy is FINE.

But Mommy isn’t fine.

Mommy is hurt. Mommy is scared. Mommy is mad.

And Mommy needs to know that it’s okay to let it show. It’s okay to look your little one in the eyes and be honest with them. So often we crave authentic relationships with others, ones where we can be ourselves in all our imperfect glory.

But we avoid this same type of connection with our kids. I’m not saying we should spew all of our burdens on our kids, telling them the in’s and out’s of our troubles and trials. But I think it’s okay to say, “Mommy is really sad.”

Our kids are experts at spotting fakes. They know when we are hurting, and they want us to be real. Deep down, I think we want it too. Our hearts need to know there is liberty to express our feelings in truth and love, especially to those in our closest circle. By taking off the mask and giving our babies the gift of authenticity, we teach them holy things. Still don’t believe me? I’ve got you.

Here are three Biblical reasons why we should share our feelings with our kids.

1) It shows them how to approach God.

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most
— Hebrews 4:16

If our relationship with our children reflects God’s relationship with us, then we need to look at how He interacts with His kids, especially when we are messy. God doesn’t expect us to have it all together when we come to Him. He tells us to come boldly – arms open, feelings flowing. I can guarantee ‘when we need it most,’ we are not calm and collected. Our knees are on the floor, face to the ground, tears streaming down our cheeks as we cry out to heaven. And God wants this.

When we live with unguarded hearts we are showing our littles a crucial lesson: It’s okay to lay it all out there, but then we must lay it all down. Casting our cares before our Savior, we show our kids how to have a deeper relationship with Him.

2) It shows them how to have healthy relationships.

Healthy relationships hold all the emotions. Our kids need to understand that people have many types of feelings. And when they encounter them, we can guide them in knowing what to do. Emotions don’t need to be ‘fixed.’ They need to be felt in order to heal.

I let my kids know it’s alright to be angry. I ask them to tell me how they are feeling. And then I listen. We talk. We pray. We bring our deep emotions back to Jesus. And you know what, my kids are starting to ask me questions too! When they see me crying, they ask why. They don’t say stop; they try to connect. They are imitating what they’ve seen, and when they see mama hurting, they practice what they’ve learned. Authenticity fosters an environment full of compassion, kindness, and empathetic listening.

3) It shows them how to love others well, including themselves.

Starting with ourselves, we need to not get after people for having negative feelings. David was called a man after God’s own heart but have you read the Psalms? He was all over the place! And yet, he always turned back towards God and His promises. David’s emotions were not neat and contained, and neither are ours.

On harder days, they can cause wounding and unwanted harm. But our Father is a forgiver. He is capable of redeeming any situation and every separation. When we sin in our feelings, His grace is there to meet us in full abundance. We can forgive ourselves because God’s love holds nothing against us and covers everything for us. When we understand this truth, it takes the pressure off. It inspires us to offer the same divine forgiveness to others, especially our kids.

Family relationships are the best place to practice the art of apologizing, forgiving, and extending unconditional love. Freely we’ve received. Freely we can give.

Remember, mama friend. God never wants you to feel bad for feeling. Invite your kids into your heart. Be real. Be what you ALL truly need. You’ll be so glad you did, and your family will be better for it.


Confessions of an Evil Stepmom

by Lindsey Racz

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I am a step-mom. I am not evil. At least, I didn’t use to be. I used to be a girl who dreamed of marrying a hunky man of God, having lots of babies with said hunk, and building a quaint little homestead with hunky man and hunky man’s babies. But alas, as many of us have discovered, our earliest dreams don’t always pan out exactly as we plan.

My first attempt at this dream didn’t go so well and I became a single mom at a young age. After a tender season of brokenness, healing and walking hand-in-hand with the Lord, I learned this dream of mine had become an idol to me. Which, of course, is why God allowed it to be stripped away.

Once I made Jesus my priority over any other dream, and because our God is a God of endless restoration and grace, He did indeed bring my original dream to fruition. Sort of. I met Matt. Hunky? Yes. Tall, dark, and handsome? Check, check, and check. But the greatest part about this new gift was nothing physical at all. I could see Matt’s heart was completely humble before the Lord. He was not perfect, but he was earnestly seeking God with all he had. And this, girls, made my heart tumble and flip in new ways! Commence falling madly in love.

Getting close to Matt meant getting to know his 8-year-old son who lived with him 50% or more of the time. Matt also got to know my 4-year-old-daughter well. There were four hearts—not two—becoming entangled in future dreams of a family. I cannot overstate that this delicate process took time, caution, and lots of prayer.  But when Matt proposed on the rocky shores of Maine, I knew this man was my forever.

We were married and It. Was. Beautiful.

I was not evil that day. In fact, I can’t tell you when I became an evil step-mom.  You see, evil often creeps in a cracked back door and sets up shop before we even know it’s arrived.

In our first year of marriage, I began struggling with feelings toward my step-son I didn’t want to have. Confusing feelings. Yucky feelings. Terrible, no good, very bad feelings. How could I care so recklessly for a little boy one moment and two seconds later feel as though he was an intruder in my home?  I felt resentful and jealous. I looked at my new husband who was knocking this step-parenting thing out of the ballpark with ease. But me? I was struggling with concepts as simple as being nice. What was wrong with me? I had indeed become the evil step-mother.

Thankfully, life is not meant to be done alone. Had I continued in isolation and yuckiness, I’m certain I would still be there today. I knew I needed some help. I began to pray earnestly for guidance in my new role. I searched the web for literature on blended family dynamics. I sought out other step-moms—good women who also knew the Lord—and learned I wasn’t alone in these feelings! Glorious relief! I wasn’t crazy! Or evil! Or alone!

You see, the step-mama conundrum is a very real one. There’s a reason we often become evil. We, like peanut butter in a PB&J, are stuck right smack dab in the middle. Between good intentions and less than ideal circumstances. Between dreams of unity and realities of split weekends. Between holiday cheer and schedules that don’t align. Between love and resentment, past and present, spirit and flesh. We are just so very human. There is only One who can help us in this desperate state of stuck-ed-ness. His name is Jesus Christ.

I am so, so thankful that on my days of selfish, evil-stepmom mentality—those days when I can almost hear myself with an evil cackle—my Lord and Savior has not left me alone! He promises His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9) and that if we lean into Him, the things that are impossible for us become possible (Luke 18:27). That, my friends, is very good news for this very weak mom who often sees things through an impossible lens.

Fellow step-moms, I don’t know if you’ve been where I’ve been, but I’m willing to bet you have. Because even amidst mercy that abounds from second chances, we often find ourselves disillusioned, disenchanted, and disappointed. All these dis-es can drag even the strongest woman under. Unless, of course, she reaches out and grasps onto one thing.

Love. Colossians 3:14 tells us that the most important thing we can put on in the morning is love, which will then, in turn, bind us together in perfect unity. 1 Peter 4:8 doesn’t mince words either,

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin.

I don’t know about you, but I need some sin covering!

My step-son, whom I do not ever refer to as my step-son but simply as my son, is now 13. I’ve watched him grow from an 8-year-old with red cheeks to a 13-year-old who now towers over me and makes me think there’s an unidentified man in my home every time I hear his deepening voice. I love this boy with all my heart. Sometimes the urge is still there. To be resentful. To feel slighted. To show favoritism. To be the evil step-mother. Yes, these urges still come, and when they do I must be intentional. I remind myself that I have just four more years with this precious kiddo under my roof. Four years to show him the love of Jesus. I grab a bible, text a friend, and above all, put on love. Love is the antithesis of evil. The two cannot exist together. Goodbye, evil step-mom. I choose love.


4 Ways to Navigate Transition With Your Kids

by Brittany Rust

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Transition is hard, particularly when your kids are involved. It can take an already stressful experience and make it messier, more complicated, and emotionally taxing. And nothing can tug at the mama heart like seeing your little one(s) struggle through the change.

My family has recently gone through a lot of change; more in the last six months than the previous three years. And it’s been really, really, really hard. In addition, change is harder than ever before because of our one-year old son. As a woman who has loved and served God for 17 years, I’ve learned to persevere. But when I see the struggle in my baby’s face, I want to throw up my hands and call mercy for the sake of my child. Unfortunately, that’s not how life usually works.

I’ve had to learn to adapt for my son and show up for him in new ways to help him through the change. I haven’t perfected mothering a child in transition, but I have found 4 ways to help navigate my family through the unknown. I pray this helps resource you for your own upcoming transition.

1.       Give quality.

For our family in this transition, our son has had less time with my husband and myself. I struggled with immense guilt over this and sought peace over it. What I’ve come to discover is that quality matters. Parents can be there but not really be there, if you know what I mean. Your kids won’t necessarily remember how much time you spent with them, but rather, the quality of the time they did have with you.

Whatever time you do have with your child(ren), make it good. Make it really good. Put down the phone. Spend less time with the tv on. And really be present. My son loves to snuggle up with me, but he notices if I pick up my phone; he doesn’t like mama distracted. So, every night I put aside the phone as much as I can and make myself present for him. On the weekends, we have fun. All the writing and podcasting and on the side gigs can wait until he’s in bed because baby needs his mama!

2.       Speak to their heart.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Kids know when something is off and if left in the dark, can become confused. Even if your child is young and unable to communicate, speak life over them. Cover them with words of assurance and comfort. My son doesn’t understand all my words, but he sees the empathy in my eyes and hears the tone in my voice.

Connect with your child’s heart by asking them how their heart is doing. Soothe them with your sweet words of endearment. Communicate so they don’t feel left out.

3.       Go through it united.

Let your kids see you go through the change as a united family. This will especially prove valuable in how they see you and your husband walk it together. Stay in communication with your husband and navigate the journey together. If your child(ren) see a divided marriage, they will likely feel fear and doubt.

4.       Jesus.

Spending time with Jesus as a mom but also as a family is so important all the time, but especially during times of change. Your kids lean on you which means you need to be leaning on Jesus, mama! Spend time in the Word. Play worship music in the house and car. Let your little one(s) hear you praying over them at night. Usher in the presence of Jesus into your home and pray your child(ren) bask in Him. Invite Him into the change and ask for protection over your kid(s) mind(s) through the unknown.

Transition is hard and when you go through it as a family, it can be even harder. I pray for you, dear mama, as you walk this journey.