This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by Darlene Schacht , Author of The Mom Complex.
For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a mom. I played "house" and dolls until I was 12 years old, maybe even 13. I loved imagining that I was "the mom" and I had all of my dolls lined up, ready to become my children, ready to be named, ready to "come alive".
My imagination allowed those dolls to become real to me. And when my playing "house" was over, the dolls just got put away or left out for next time.
In my teen years I did a lot of babysitting. I had lots of nieces and nephews with whom I played with and took care of. In church I helped out with Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and AWANA. As I encountered my days in Bible College my ministry experiences almost always involved children. I also worked at summer Bible Camp. Up until recently, I was the Director for the Under-Two's Ministry at my church. My current church ministry is working at a kid's program called Club J, as well as welcoming and registering the Gr. 1 - 6 students into Sunday School each week. My last "job" was running a home-based daycare (until we moved 3 months ago). I'm currently employed by the local school as a substitute Educational Assistant. But mostly, and most importantly, I am a stay-at-home mom.
Because of all my past experience working with and caring for children, I wasn't the least bit surprised when I fell in love with two men at once . . . my husband Wayne, and his son, Thomas. Yes, when I got married at the age of 24, I became an "instant mom" to a six-year old. God sending these new "men" into my life seemed perfect at the time. I embraced, wholeheartedly, my new role as wife and mother. Prior to proposing, Wayne asked Thomas what he thought of me. His response: "I like Kim. I don't want to marry her. But you can if you want to." The priceless honesty of a child!
When we married, Thomas didn't really have a mother figure. His biological mother quit exercising her visiting rights when Thomas was about 3 years old. My husband has had full custody of Thomas since he was a one year old. Thomas is now 16 years old and last year he saw his mom again for the first time in 13 years. What we had hoped to be a healing process for him has actually caused him a lot of pain. Unfortunately, his mom has cut ties with him again and we're not sure if and when she'll ever attempt to build a relationship with her son.
My attempts to "become" Thomas' mother were mostly futile. For all intents and purposes, I have been his mom for the past 10 years. However, in the biological sense, he's not mine. In the emotional sense, he's not mine. Or maybe I should say, I'm not his. He has a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder, as well as ADHD, Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. If you know the slightest bit about any of these disorders, you will rightfully conclude that we've had our share of challenges.
I have wished so much that he were biologically mine--that his dad and I were the ones to create him, because I know Thomas' life would be so different right now if that were the case. So much of his pain could have been avoided if only the early years of his life would have been different. But that is not the case, and therefore we manage the best we can with the resources available to us.
I'm not going to attempt to go into all the details surrounding the events leading up to our current family status, but the fact is, Thomas does not live with us anymore. It has been almost 2 years since he's lived in our home, and we've faced many challenges and struggles that I honestly did not sign up for when I got married. Don't get me wrong . . . I love this child very deeply and I do not regret marrying Wayne. But had I known exactly what the challenges were that lay ahead of us, I don't think I would have believed that I could handle it all. But by God's grace, I am still here today. Our marriage is strong. Our family is strong. We still have regular contact with Thomas and we'll always be his parents. Mitchell and Tyrone will always be his brothers. We are still involved in his life and hope we always will be.
Motherhood, whether it comes to you naturally, by adoption or as a step-parent, is never easy. My idealistic view of being "mommy" to my dolls was thrown out the window many years ago. The reality of being "mommy" to real, live, human beings is much more challenging than carrying a doll around. Obviously! Being a parent is by far the most challenging thing I've ever faced in my life. However, it is also the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I love my role as a mother. I wouldn't change it for anything. The love I have for my boys goes so deep, it hurts.
Now having said that, I think of how deeply our Heavenly Father loves us! The love that I have for my boys is just a drop in the bucket compared to how much God loves His children. The love He has for us is almost unfathomable to me. But I grasp on to what I can, knowing that my Father has a plan for my life. Part of that plan is to be the best mother I can to my boys, whether they reside under my roof or not. I am so thankful for the joys and challenges my boys provide in my life.
Thank you, God, for giving me the awesome responsibility of being a mom. Thank you for blessing me with three incredible sons!