A few years ago, I overheard our then-17-year-old son teaching our 4-year-old daughter how to blow a bubble with her gum. I watched silently as he told her, "Flatten it out with your tongue, move your tongue out of the way, then just blow!" It was the same way I taught him when he was her age.
Fifteen years ago.
It has been fifteen years since I taught the 4-year-old version of our middle son how to blow a bubble. Fif. Teen. Years.
Lots of jumbled thoughts rushed through my mind. Disbelief that I've been parenting that long. Sadness that it has gone by so fast. Somber understanding that, in a blink, she'll be 17. Regret over mistakes I've made with him.
Questions swirled around, too. Have I done it well? Will he remember the times I got it right? Will he forgive the times I've gotten it very wrong? Does he know that I really do want to love him well? Does he remember that I taught him how to blow a bubble with his gum?
I hesitated to say anything. I was afraid he wouldn’t remember.
Suddenly, he and I made eye contact. He grinned, and I knew he remembered. But I still had to ask, "Do you remember…?"
"Uh-huh," he said, nodding his head.
I smiled, amazed at how much relief and affirmation that simple interaction gave me.
See, I'm his stepmom. And stepmomming is a unique position, isn’t it? We’re in the position of a parent, oftentimes without being recognized by society as a parent. We battle stereotypes and false assumptions (thanks for that, Disney). In some cases, the role has all the responsibilities of motherhood, without many of the benefits. We try to show love like a mother, even when we aren't their biological mother.
Stepmom friends, I know what it’s like to sometimes feel like an outsider in your own family. Stepparenting is the single most complicated role I've ever had. It is one area of my life where I am unsure of myself most of the time.
But oh, how God has used this role to sing the sweet melody of grace over my life. Stepparenting is a circumstance that has caused me to look at Jesus’s family life a little more closely, and it has helped me understand aspects of God’s love that I may not have observed otherwise.
Jesus, the Creator, grew up as the divine Son of the Living God in a family of fallen creations. I wonder if he felt out of place in his home?
Scripture tells us that Jesus became a carpenter, just like Joseph, who was not his biological father.  Jesus learned from Joseph and took on some of the traits of this man who raised him. Sweet stepmom, do you see it? God appointed Joseph to teach the Christ-child what his Holy Father wanted him to know. He has appointed you to influence your stepchildren for the kingdom, as well.
Another way I’ve seen God’s love is in the way scripture talks about salvation with the language of adoption. The Bible tells us that God chooses to make us his children.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:14-17).
Sometimes, we stepmoms are given the opportunity to legally adopt our stepchildren. Other times, that adoption is simply one of the heart. Both types are permanent and binding, and regardless of how we have adopted our stepchildren, we can love them, provide for them, sacrifice for them, and want what is best for them. They are ours. Likewise, God adopts his children into his kingdom. We are his forever. He has sacrificed for us, and he is pleased to love us, provide for us, and do what is best for us.
Consider how these scriptures about God’s adoptive love for us apply to our relationship with our stepchildren:
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Just as God takes immense pleasure in giving the good gifts of himself and salvation to his adopted, we stepmoms also eagerly desire to provide for and give good gifts to our stepchildren.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31b-32). God spared no expense to reveal his love to us and to make us his own. Since God has offered the supreme sacrifice of his Son’s life, we can be assured that he will continue to provide what we need and love us well. We don’t have to fear that his love will wane or that we will do something to cause him to leave us. Similarly, we long for our stepchildren to be assured of our love for them, and we go to the utmost lengths to show them that love. We’ve experienced great sacrifice to be a part of their lives, and we withhold nothing else from them in order to demonstrate our adoptive love.
Grace abounds in our lives as stepmothers. God extends it to us as he makes us his children, and we, in turn, can offer it to our stepchildren as we build relationships with them and point them to Jesus.
For all the difficulties, awkwardness, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles stepparenting presents, the simplest gestures give the most reassurance of gracious love. For now, God reassures me with the fact that my stepson remembers I taught him how to blow bubbles with his gum. Later, during a tough time that's bound to happen, I'll remember that he remembers. It will encourage me to keep trying, to keep learning, to keep loving. Because it's possible that what he learns from me, he'll teach to someone else someday.
 Mark 6:1-3
Alisha is a wife to Max, a parent of four, and a grateful recipient of God's unmerited favor. She is a native East Texan, a teacher, a photographer and an occasional blogger. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2002 with a Bachelors of Science degree in communications. Alisha has a passion for studying and teaching the Bible, and appreciates opportunities to disciple and be discipled. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.