The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The gift of being on the edge

It's what stepparents can enjoy and offer

A few months after marrying, I was with my husband’s sons, Jamie and Paul, when we saw an acquaintance at the store. She looked at the boys, aged 10 and 8, with delight and said, “Oh, how wonderful to meet your sons!”

When Jamie and Paul (top) Laurie were
When Jamie and Paul (top) Laurie were growing up, Jane Vennard says she looked for ways to embrace the difficulties, as well as the goodness and gifts, of being their stepmother.
“They’re my stepsons,” I answered.

When she said, “Oh, so you’re not their real mother,” I was at a loss. I felt discounted. I must have mumbled something before walking on. But in those early days of my new role, I was deeply hurt.

Since that day others have asked why I insist on being called a stepmother. They say I’ve truly been a mother to Jamie and Paul and that my presence in their lives has been a gift. They name the motherly things I’ve done—the school meetings, birthday parties, soccer games, car pools.

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