Those of you who know me or my family would know that Disney goes hand in hand with our everyday lives. Disneyland was a huge part of my childhood, it was where I met my husband, where I had my engagement pictures done, I have a Mickey Mouse tattoo - you get the picture. While I have obsessed over Disney and its philosophies about love/life I never really thought about how their character development of stepmoms has shaped their audiences opinions.
Disney has done a fantastic job at turning step moms into the villain of the story. They are often selfish, demeaning, and down right cruel. As a child I thought, "She is the worst, poor Cinderella!" But besides hating them in movies, I have never taken an interest into the complexities of stepparent-hood , but then again why would I? I did not grow up thinking, "I want to be a stepmom someday" and I am sure that most women would agree that was not a thought as a little girl. I am going to be honest, it is tough emotionally and trying to find that perfect balance is a constant internal battle.
You want to love and support your partner in being a parent. At the same time you need to let the biological parent take over in discipline and overall a lot of the major decisions regarding your stepson or daughter. This does not mean that you can not have a say in the matter, but they need to be the ones who directly address whatever the child(ren) need to hear.
You want to love the child(ren) just as you would love and raise your own. But it is different, for me I was not in Claire's life until she was 6 years old, I am coming into the game late and it easily can make me feel like an outsider at times.
You do not want to over step the birth mom's role, but instead encourage a healthy relationship. To do so would be the biggest example of love, forgiveness, and selflessness - which is a tough thing to tackle.
After tossing and turning on those nights when frustration would overcome me I came to a simple realization. Claire is not my child, just as any future babies I give birth to will not be my child, they (we) are all children of God. As a parent our purpose is to love, support, and guide children in this world - then we learn to release them to God and to trust that they will learn to love Him and allow Him into their hearts to guide them through life. While this is easier said than done because we are so emotionally attached to our children, I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience how to parent in this way before I have children that I birth into this world. I feel so honored that Jesus has blessed me with Claire. I love our relationship and how much we have grown together. I am sure, as any relationship with another person, we will have our ups and downs. I just need to focus on the overall goal: loving Claire and leading her toward Christ, who is her true protector and parent.