The words below were written by my wife, Kelli, shortly after Lindsay passed away. As you read her words try and place yourself in the roll of a step parent whose spouse has just lost a child. Kelli was, and still is, my rock during the most painful time of my life and has never wavered from my side. This woman that I am lucky to call my wife, my best friend, kept me from sinking into the endless depths of depression. She had a front row seat to my life during and after Lindsay’s passing. She saw the raw emotion, the tears, the sleepless nights all the things I tried to keep private. So many times she would say “I just want to pick you up and put you in my pocket and carry you around.” This woman who loves Jarrett and Lindsay with all her heart has struggled with where her place is in all this. The last thing she ever wanted to do was over step the motherly bounds. She knew she was not Lindsay’s mother and never claimed to be, but she was Lindsay’s step mom and she was her friend.
A Step Mothers Perspective…
Divorce is common. There are many blended families. Step and half siblings is no longer something you run across every now and then. When you start dating someone with children, it is very different then dating someone who does not have children…not only because of the kids, but because there is an ex. When a couple divorces with no children, once all is said and done, they can go their merry way and never cross paths again. If you have children, you always have a connection to that person…they are always a part of your life. They are the other half of your child’s everything.
When Brad and I started dating my ex and I were divorced 15 years, we had moved on, forgiven and forgotten all that we needed to and had simply become two people who shared 3 children. My youngest child was 17, my two others were older and living in different States. I saw Brad every other weekend, my youngest, who was a teenage boy, pretty much had his weekends planned and it usually didn’t include his momma. That made my relationship with Brad pretty easy.
Brad was newly divorced and his children were young, 12 and 14. He and his ex were doing the best they could to co-parent two children at pivotal ages. He and his ex were not at the point where their lives didn’t constantly cross.
When Brad and I married in 2012 my youngest son had settled into his own home. As we started our lives as husband and wife, Brad never had to “share” me with my children. I have shared him from day 1. I am not complaining. I went into the relationship, and our marriage with my eyes wide open.
When a baby comes into your life, most times, it is a child you have carried. A baby you feel grow inside you and give birth to. More times than not, you are the first to hold that baby and bond with that baby. You watch that child grow, you see similarities of your siblings, your parents, your husband and his family. The love of that child is immediate, unquestionable, and very, very natural. When you meet and fall in love with someone with children, you are committing yourself to those children as much as the person you have fallen in love with. I was very lucky, my relationship with his children, was an immediate friendship and I grew to love them as my own.
Fast forward 5 years to August 2016. One of the children I promised to love and cherish along with my new husband, leaves this earth. I stand with her parents and my heart breaks, I stand with her parents and say goodbye, I stand with her parents and know I am not the one who knows the pain my husband is trying desperately to deal with…because I am not her mother. I am simply the step-mom.
As the days and weeks passed I struggled with where my “place” was, I needed to stand next to my husband but I also needed to step back, as I am not the mother.
At some point during the hospital stay the dynamics of our family shifted. It was not longer “them and us” it was “WE.” We are diverse group, but no less a family. Our goal is to support each other, help each other, and most importantly take care of each other. I was not Lindsay’s mother, but I promised to be a mother figure, I promised to love them as I promised to love their father. My heart aches for the loss of a child who was not mine, but I was lucky enough for another woman to allow me to share her.
Out of respect of the love I have for my step daughter, not only will I continue to love her father and brother I promise to befriend her Mother and stand by her as OUR family struggles to find our way through this life without this young lady. It is my way of continuing to keep the promises I made. It is my way of showing how very much I loved and still love Lindsay.