Valentine’s

Its safe to say I had the best Valentine’s ever.

I spent the night-before-valentines in usual fashion; making sugar cookies into the wee hours of the night. I make cookies for my step daughter, every year for her class party. This year like all the rest, I planned to do things differently. I WOULD NOT wait until the last minute to make them, I WOULD make it easy on myself and make the dough the day before and maybe even invest in a heart shaped cookie cutter. This year would be different, mm-hm. Not so. Not one of these things happened. In true Mery fashion; all my best intentions were either forgotten or misplaced. (If only the world judged us on based off our intentions- I’d be a saint!) Needless to say I remembered at exactly 7pm that tomorrow, Monday, was indeed Valentines day and that I still needed sugar cookie supplies. I wrestled with the the notion of those delightfully decorated fluffy pink frosted cookies, you know, the 2 boxes for $6 at Fred Meyer… but I just couldn’t do it. I made a promise to not only Taylar but to myself that I would bake and make these ‘heart cookies’ for her until she begs me to stop or I develop carple tunnel.. which ever comes first. Its tradition. So off I go to the store, mental list and all. I make it out of the zoo in 20 minutes and head home- Now I feel it. It’s Valentines day baby.
As I begin the process of mixing the dough and flouring the surface my life with Taylar begins to play out. I feel the weight in my chest fluctuate as I weave in and out of joy and sadness. If you’re a step-parent you know exactly what I’m talking about. I hear an old but familiar echo, “Being a step parent is the most thankless job, all the responsibilities and none of the benefits.” It sunk in just how skewed my perception has been. You should know I am not proud of the above statement. You know how sometimes you don’t realize the severity of something until you say it aloud? Well, this is one of those instances. I can remember being a step-child. I was a pill. I remember feeling unwanted and unloved by my step-father. Rejection is the worst. I have done my best to be a better parent to Taylar. But its not easy. Parenting never is. I have had to learn how to love her. Love is not compiled of feelings. I am talking about the unfailing, unconditional kind of love that comes from choosing to Love regardless of what the other person says or does. Have you ever tried to love someone who didn’t want it? Like I said, rejection is the worst. In some ways I have been just as afraid as Taylar… I am afraid of hearing what every step parent dreads hearing from their child, “you’re not my Mom!” Thus the ‘thankless job’ slogan was born. Out of fear, fear of not getting what I want and losing what I have.
The timer beeps for the last time. All forty-five cookies are now baked and cooling. Each one slightly different than the other, still no cookie cutter. The frosting will have to wait for the morning. It all comes down to this; gratefulness is not required, gifts are given out of love. Love doesn’t require love in return. My love comes from knowing that there is a God who loves me despite all my shortcomings. A God who in His perfect wisdom gave me a little girl to love and care for. I have to remember she is a gift, sometimes she is a very defiant, impatient gift, but a gift no less. I need to be better at loving her. I need not withdraw my affections when she pulls away. I need to stand my ground. I’m not going anywhere. Being a step-parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding jobs I’ve ever been given. Happy Valentines Day- everyday.

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