By Melanie Anthony       Author of "Daily Bread for the Starving Stepmom"
Most women reading this are mothers. Your name however, has been re-defined by society and you now have been named a stepmom. Step, meaning what? Like, step down, bonus, the "other" one or custodial? What in the world does that mean? The word "mother" or "mom" actually has several definitions. The obvious one is, to give birth to a child. The other defines the word as "to be or act as mother to someone or to care for or protect someone like a mother."

I have been a stepmom going on eight years now. I am also a mother to a biological child. Now, wasn't that a lot of explaining to do just to say that "I'm a mom?" Three simple words. I AM A MOM. Gosh, can wear me out at times! Honestly, do you ever catch yourself trying to explain your entire step-family tree? "Well, I really didn't give birth to these wonderful step children but they are with me full time or half the time and we get to see them on the 2nd and 4th weekend of every month, and the story goes on." The whole conversation can be exasperating, to say the least. There are even times when my husband will tell people we have been married twenty-five years just so our story will be more believable and fit into the worldly perspective.
My role has a little bit of a different dynamic in that I am a custodial stepmom. Whoops, there goes that re-defined word again, and along with it comes my re-defined role. Right? Wrong!

As a custodial stepmom I have the privilege of actually raising my stepchildren with their father by my side. Together, we teach them, instruct them, educate them, love them, discipline them, wipe away their tears, defend their hearts, pray for their futures, raise them to love God, feed them, clothe them, carpool them, laugh and cry with them, protect them and the list goes on. You get the picture here. If you're not a custodial stepmom, you do all the above just on a different schedule. The dynamic can definitely have its similarities. I'm just as much a mom to my stepchildren as I am to my biological child. Is our DNA different, absolutely. Do I have the capacity to love them, absolutely. That love may look different and that's okay. Your relationship with your stepchild is between your stepchild and God, He is the one that dictates your heart and the heart of your stepchild.

Does it really matter what title you carry as long as you're acting as a Godly presence in your stepchild’s life? That, my sweet stepmama's goes a lot further in impacting a child’s young life than you will ever know. In my own experience, I have been blessed to have several wonderful woman throughout my lifetime that have loved me, supported me and mentored me in ways that their influence has forever impacted my life and for that I am forever grateful. Embrace your role as a mother to your stepchildren, not as a stepmother, but as a mother. It may be easier in your dynamic to look at yourself as a mother figure.  Or maybe your situation is such that you're more of a mentor or good friend.   Either way, you always have an opportunity to impact the life of your stepchild, forever.   But ultimately, your relationship with your stepchild is between you and God.

You are a mother and God created you for such a time as this, to be a mom to the children He has given you whether by birth or by marriage. Everyone's relationship with their stepchildren will look different. It's yours to define by nurturing it and loving God, which in turn will allow you to love your stepkids the way they need to be loved.

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