The year after my father died my mother remarried.
When I went to write After the Flag has been Folded, I couldn’t even remember my step-father’s name. One of my uncles had introduced Mama to him because everyone knows the answer to being a young widow is to remarry, right?
My mother began singing “I take it back I didn’t mean it” as soon as we drove away from the church after the wedding ceremony.
But not for the same reasons Sandy Posey sang it.
Six weeks later Mama asked her new husband for a divorce.
She ended up getting an annulment.
Mama must have learned a lesson in all that because she never, ever remarried again.
Whatever fantasy I retained about becoming part of a Yours, Mine or Ours family remained just that — a fantasy.
I have a lot of friends who grew up in blended families. Some of them bonded with their step-parents. Some of them didn’t. When our father died my siblings and I were old enough to know our dad. It would have been daunting for any man to step into our lives and try to build a relationship with us. I think the notion of another man serving as step-dad to us was just too frightening for our mother … and for us.
Imagine what it must have felt like for the men Mama dated to walk into our cramped trailer house and the first thing they encountered was a humongous oil painting of Daddy in his uniform.I find that humorous now, of course. (Albeit if you were to walk into my home today the first thing you’d see is a framed photo of my father.)
Mama dated some good men. A few of them might have made terrific step-dads. But it was unusual in our day for kids to have step-parents. That’s no longer the case. The Pew Research Center estimated that in 2010 fifty-two percent of the population under the age of 30 had a step relative or half-sibling. That number is even higher in the African-American community. By the time US kids turn 15, thirty-percent of them will have known at least two moms. Their birth mom and their other mom.
Thirty percent.Wow. That’s a lot.
An estimated 30 million people in the US are step-parents.
I don’t even like the term step-parent. Honestly, I don’t even know anyone who uses that terminology any more. My friends who have step-parents refer to them as their mother or their fathers. Sometimes they clarify the relationship. Oftentimes they don’t.
I have family members who are step-parents. They are as devoted to the children they married into as they are to the children they gave birth to. If you didn’t know any different you would think they were the birth parents to those kids.
Without question it takes a person with a big heart to take on the task of loving other people’s children. I’ve been reading Robin Davis’s book, Recipe for Joy: A Stepmom’s story of finding faith, following love and feeding a family.
Davis, the food editor at the Columbus Dispatch, never intended to marry. Her dream was living in San Francisco and working for the Chronicle and Bon Appetit, which she was doing when her story took a turn. A turn that included marrying a widower and helping raise up his three children. In addition to embracing a whole new faith practice — conversion to Catholicism. (God has a wicked sense of humor, putting a food editor in a Blended family.)
Davis’s story reminds me once again that there is nothing sedate or mundane about the life of a Believer. They don’t call it a faith journey for nothing, you know. You can count on life in Christ being the best adventure you never saw coming.
I’m happy to share my one copy of Recipe for Joy if you’d like it, give me a shout-out.