Sweet 16

I can’t believe our eldest daughter is 16 years old today. When we first became a family, she was only 8 years old. Even though it is her birthday, I felt like she gave me a wonderful gift about a week ago. She told me she wanted to talk to me and my first reaction was that it was “about a boy”. Boy, was I wrong. When I least expected this conversation to happen, she poured her heart out to me about how much I meant to her, how much she appreciated me and how if anyone were to ever ask her, she would say that her “stepmom” has been the one who has been a mother to her – that I was the one that she could talk to, that I had been there for her throughout all of these years, and that I am the one who has been present in her life. What a moment. After months of living with her mother I truly believed that my special bond with her was lost and even though I am the “stepmom”, I felt in a sense replaced. But I wholeheartedly encouraged a healthy relationship with her mother and only prayed that her mother would provide what our 16 year old needed. It’s so easy to be a “friend” but I know that children need a mother, whether they like our rules, our expectations and reprimands – children will become adults and will realize what we as parents wanted for them. She is years away from being an adult, but something in me tells me that she has realized in these past several months just how much her Dad and I love her. As a stepmom, it is so gratifying to hear a child tell you that they appreciate all you do for them.  I realize that these teenage years will continue to be challenging, but I am so thankful that she expressed her love and appreciation for me, something that every parent in the world deserves to hear from their child. It is truly the greatest gift.

Happy birthday, Nini – I love you and thank you for MY gift.

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