I’m their bonus mom
I grew up dreaming of who I would be when I “grew up” – I put that in quotes because at 31-years-old, I’m still not sure when or if I’ll ever truly feel like I’ve grown up. My childhood dreams included titles like president, firefighter, lawyer, pop star, and even under water basket weaver. In my younger years of uninhibited imagination it made sense that I wanted to carry all of these titles at some point in my life. After all, my mom had always told me I could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be as long as I was willing to earn it.
In my formative years I thought of education and becoming a doctor (at the time I had no idea what kind of doctor, I just wanted to be one). I thought of supporting those around me, but never quite had a vision of who those people might be.
Today, I carry a number of titles – none of which the childhood version of me had the wherewithal to fathom. I am a business professional with a smattering of alphabet soup I can proudly display on a business card. I’m at the final stages of dissertation completion for my terminal degree – a philosophy doctorate in business management. I own two small businesses. I am a landlord. I am a community leader, thought provoker, and expert problem solver.
I am also a wife, bonus mom, and pivotal member of my familial make up. I am confident when I tell you that the lives of my loved ones are significantly impacted for the better because I love them.
At two weeks into my 28th year, I met the man who would become my husband.
Shortly into getting to know him I learned that he is the father of three children – two boys and a girl. Maybe it’s because I never dated a man who had kids, but more likely it’s the core make up of who I am.. I welcomed his three kids into my world with as much openness, gratitude, and grace as I could muster. I instantly fell in love with our little family. My daughter – who turns 18 in two months (!!) – told me that ‘step-mom’ just didn’t feel right to her. Her vision of a step-mom was someone cold, unloving, and critical. These adjectives do not describe her feelings and perceptions of me. Rather, I’m her close confidant and friend. I am the person in her world that says, “never forget to love yourself and remember that YOU are in charge.” She will tell you that I am her bonus mom. I will tell you that I have the privilege to co-parent three human beings who challenge, humble, and love me uniquely, wholly in ways only they can.
My younger self could’ve never fathomed the value she would place on earning the titles of wife and mother.
On the topic of having it all I could go on for days – in fact, my dissertation (titled Women’s Beliefs about the Glass Ceiling: Studying Career Decisions of Millennial Women Leaders) narrows in on the particulars that drive women to lead the lives they choose, particularly those who choose to have careers in leadership. I will tell you that I am fortunate in ways I never could have imagined without living the life I live today. I am blessed with a personality that favors fortitude, and a tender heart capable of loving immeasurably.
So, do I have it all? Without a doubt, I absolutely do.