At the age of 27, I became a stepmom. Growing up in a very sheltered home where there was no divorce, even within all my extended family, movies and media formed the only perception I knew of a stepmom. For months leading up to my marriage, I would research and cling to any Godly insight I could gather on how to enter into this foreign territory.
God has ministered to me greatly in the past 7 years. I have in no way mastered the role, but I know that He has provided me amazing nuggets throughout this journey that I hold close to my heart because they are gifts from Him.
As I prayed over what this week’s blog should be about, I watched my daughter dance in her middle school talent show and was reminded how much she carries my heart. I wish I could say that the moment I said “I do” magic happened and I loved her with the crazy intense love that a mother loves her child, but truthfully, it’s been a journey. And although I did love her immensely even at the beginning, God has grown that love into something stunning.
Below are some nuggets God has gifted to me along this journey. Even if this is just for one stepmommy, God wanted me to give this to you.
1. Making My Vows
On our wedding day, it was so important for all to see that I wasn’t just making a commitment to my husband, but his 5-year-old daughter too. I’ll never forget saying my vows to John and then turning to Promise and saying my vows written for her alone. I told her I loved her more than ketchup, more than Diet Coke. She responded with, “that’s a lot of love.” In front of all my friends and family, I vowed to love her like she was my own.
2. Adding Instead of Replacing
Promise’s mother was and is active in her life. I wanted to move forward making sure that she knew that I never was trying to replace that relationship in her life. My goal was just to add another loving relationship. Our relationship was going to be a little different than that relationship, but could still contain all the same beautiful things. A child can never be loved too much.
3. Power of Prayer
Being sincere, I was always nervous if I would love my biological kids more than Promise. For the first four years of our marriage, when it was just John, myself, and Promise, I would pray for her continually throughout the day. I would make sure anytime she needed me, I was there. I just prayed that no matter what, I would always love her as if she were mine. I remember the day, three years into our marriage. Someone wronged my daughter. I made hast in making sure the problem was corrected. Promise looked at me and said, “You totally turned into a mama bear today!” We laughed. Later that night I realized that by getting on my face and praying over her, somewhere along the way she really did become embedded in my heart. She was mine, and I was hers.
4. Choosing the Name
Before the wedding, Promise asked me “what do I call you.” I told her that she could call me whatever she felt comfortable with (as long as it was appropriate). For the first four years, she called me Nikki. On occasion, she would ask me, “Does it bother you that I don’t call you mom?” My answer would simply be a no and to reiterate again that a name does not change my love for her, that she is my daughter and I am one of her moms. On the day that my first son was born, when Promise was ten years old, she sat on the edge of the hospital bed and said, “I would like to call you mom from now on.” I wept, but then reiterated to her again. “A name is just a name. My love for you remains the same and will never change.”
5. My Role
From the very beginning, I knew my role had to bring life. It needed to include random living room dance parties, rubbing her back until she feel asleep, listening to Disney songs and singing as loud as possible. I needed to create a lifetime of memories in a short time. I still had to be a parent, marking and modeling the guidelines. But if she were to step over the line, it was my husband that needed to step in to do any discipline. I really felt that God told me that even though I stepped into an authoritative role, I needed to be creative on how I exercised that. I needed to lead by example, love immensely, and guide continuously.
The year of our wedding, I picked up a journal and every couple of months I would write the future Promise a letter. I would tell her funny things that she said or did. I would write to her about how much my heart was growing in love with her. I would encourage her in her walk with the Lord and give her advice for the future. I would be vulnerable and share with her what God was doing in me as I learned to be a mom. As she is now 13 prepping for high school, I still write to her. I never want her to doubt the depth of love I hold for her. I can’t wait for the day that I gift the journal to her!
7. Choosing to Invest
Our home has changed a lot in the past 7 years. Now our house is so much more hectic with a 10-month-old and a 2-year-old. However, I never want my relationship with Promise to go by the wayside. Every Tuesday night we have our “tea with mom” time. When the little boys go to bed, we make our tea, sit on my bed, and talk. Those couple hours weekly allow us to reconnect in the busyness of life, help me guide her through her teenage years, and hopefully allow her to see that I will always be investing in her precious life.
I truly believe that my relationship with Promise is because of God’s grace and his answers to prayer. I tell her from time-to-time that God’s plan is much better than ours. I never wanted to be a stepmom, but it is thee best unexpected gift that God has ever given me.
-Nicole Dickey / Visit "About" tab for bios on all collaborators