BONUS-MOM OR STEP-MONSTER?

My initiation into the sorority of motherhood did not take long.  Mine didn’t happen after a big gender reveal party and nine long months of carrying an infant in my womb. Nope, my introduction to the mommy world happened overnight. I came home from my honeymoon, put away my wedding dress and the next day picked up two little boys from school.  We were an insta-family and I, a step-mom.

Ooh, that word. Step-mom. It doesn’t produce warm fuzzies in most people. The term step-mom is up there with words like “disease” “dictator” “canker” or “moist.”  Let’s be honest, if hoping for an honorable title, step-mom is not one most would want to add to your resume. It rings menacing. For example, I was getting my roots colored one day, and my stylist introduced me to her son as the “step-mom of …” To which his instant, no-filter response was,”Are you an evil one?” (Thanks, Disney! Appreciate all your help in the blended family department)

I was slightly offended by his question, but quickly forgave him because that’s the stereotype Hollywood gives us of women who marry a man with kids. We are mean, evil women who treat our husbands kids awfully. We are step-monsters, right?

What’s funny is that I’ve never thought of our boys as Justin’s kids.  From the day we married they have been my bonus-boys. God’s sweet gift of a family to me. Two extra scoops of ice-cream on top of an already delicious wedding cake! These precious young men were part of God’s gracious sovereign plan to bless me with a family after years of praying for one.

So…in light of this month being a celebration of motherhood on the Redeemed Girl Blog, I want to share a five insights God has taught me through my role as a step-mom.

1.    Children are a gift from The Lord. In whatever form: natural birth, adoption, step-kids, foster kids–they are a gift. This viewpoint helps us to navigate the challenges that arise and the hurdles we face along the way. For any woman stepping into the stepmom role, try to see your kids as a gift and your attitude & actions will follow. Gratitude unlocks joy. So in the stickiest of situations, which lets be honest, blended families can be rather sticky. When we choose to thank God for the gift our responses to situations dramatically changes.

2.    To love my husband well means I love his kids as my own. Justin has told me many times that the greatest way I show love to him is how I love Andy and Brenden. The words of the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians leap to mind. “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is gentle.” Thankfully, these two young men could not be easier to love. But for the step momma out there who might be facing a challenging kiddo, let me encourage you to ask Jesus to love that kid through you. We don’t have the capacity within ourselves to handle or heal the nuanced wounds that children from divorced homes endure, but when we lean on Jesus and abide in Him, His love pours out through us.  It is His love described in those verses and only He can produce that fruit in us.

3.    When you serve someone, you grow to love them more.  This principle is what Jesus taught us and through my role as step-mom, I learned how powerfully true this kingdom principle is. See, I thought I loved my bonus boys while we dated, but after a few months of cooking their dinners, washing their clothes, mending their wounds, hearing their cries, my heart was undone. These two young men were part of me. The fabric of my soul threaded to their own. Their pain, my pain, their battles, my battles. Their joy, my joy.

4.    Honor their mom. Over the last three years, God has taught me so much about this. Our boys have already experienced enough pain going through a divorce; they don’t need to live in homes where either parent is spoken of negatively. I believe God has blessed our blended family with peace and love because both sides strive to put the boys best interest first and honor each other from the heart. Any healthy blended family will not put kids in the middle of a war zone. Love, forgive, seek the best, don’t compete…let the kids be free to experience nurture and peace in both homes.

5.    PRAY!  I hate to be captain obvious on this one, but there is nothing more powerful than prayer. Through prayer I’ve seen Jesus heal hearts, grant wisdom, provide direction and make something beautiful out of our little-blended family. Every day is a new adventure, which requires me to depend on Jesus for wisdom. The Bible tells us over and over again to ask for what we need. Don’t delay in bringing the needs of your home to the Lord and watch Him redeem the mess.  When we first married, one of our boys had a hard time with the transition. Justin and I prayed and prayed for his heart. Jesus answered in mighty ways. This kid is more alive and free to love than just about anyone I know. The sweetest sound in the whole world is when he runs through the house and shouts, “I love you, dad…I love you, Marian.” I just smile and think, thank you, Jesus.

To say I’m  thankful for my bonus-boys is an understatement. I could go on and on about how fun they are and what they’ve taught me about the important boy things like Minecraft, Legos, and Nerf Guns. I’m sure there have been days I’ve acted more like a step-monster than I would ever wanted, but I pray that my relationship with them is always marked by God’s love, grace and truth. We are still learning to navigate this whole blended family thing. Every day it’s Jesus, grace, prayer and more Jesus.

That’s why the biggest blessing of being a bonus-mom is watching them grow in their love for Jesus. When I see the light in their eyes for the things of the Lord, I am reminded that this is the most important ministry in my life. More than any book I could write or event I could speak at, teaching these two young men to know Jesus and serve Him proves the highest calling on my life.


Marian Jordan Ellis
RGM Founder & President

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