Faith · family · Marriage

Imaginary Animals

My sister and I have always been animal-lovers. We went through a phase in late elementary/early middle school where if we found an animal that seemed (to us) to be lost or in distress, we brought it home. My mom was not thrilled.

Even earlier than that, though, with our vivid imaginations, we had imaginary pets that were with us all the time. I actually remember, as a first-grader, imagining my pets running around my classroom. That picture occupied my mind frequently when I would get bored in class.

My dad likes to tell this story – We were in a store (knowing us, probably Ukrops). One of my imaginary pets escaped from the cart. I made him physically retrieve the fictitious animal, picking it up and physically returning it to the cart.

I am so thankful that I had a dad who encouraged my mind and creativity.

I have a lot of stories like that about my parents. I couldn’t be more grateful for them, even though I have not always appreciated them as I should.

My thoughts recently have shifted from “What type of woman do I want to be?” to “What type of mom do I want to be.” Soon, I will add the title “stepmom” to my life, and I find myself somewhat anxious at that thought. The kids themselves don’t cause anxiety; they are great, and I love them both. Instead, the fear comes because I want to fill that role well, and I’m afraid that I won’t.

What if I can’t bring myself to retrieve and return the imaginary pet?

or

What if I can, but that’s not what they need me to do?

In a lot of ways, I am terrified about being a mom. Especially about being a mom to someone else’s children. Being the second mom, because they already have a mom. A good mom. It’s not like I’m stepping into a void. So, where does that leave me? I don’t want to be a sideline player, and it isn’t my job to be center stage. I also still struggle with insecurities about being less-than and being replaceable, so those thoughts wreak havoc sometimes, too.

If I’m being completely honest, I told God a long time ago that however He chose to bring children into my life, or if He decided not to bring children into my life, I was good with it. I didn’t come to that place of peace quickly, often struggling as I watched friends have first, second, and third children. Parenthood seemed to happen so easily for so many. I eventually came to the point of satisfaction with God’s plan for me and let go of the idea that I had to have children traditionally. I am so excited that God has brought children into my life, but I feel unprepared.

Still, when I have nights like I experienced last night, I know that this is God’s best for me. After we ate dinner together, Jon, the kids, and I laughed and played games until their bedtime. We acted silly. They took turns pronouncing us husband and wife. We played games. We hugged. We snuggled. Jon and I tucked them in together. It was perfect. This is God’s best.

How often do we truly feel prepared for what God brings into our lives?

Maybe you’ve been more successful in your spiritual walk than I have been, but I rarely (if ever) have felt prepared for what God brought. God has always equipped me to be successful, as I sought Him first. The same is true now. I am woefully unprepared. But God is ready to equip me to be the best, thoroughly imperfect, bonus mom I can be. (Seriously, Disney, it’s time to end the evil step-mother stereotype).

I don’t have to feel prepared, I just have to be teachable and willing.

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