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An Open Letter From a Mom to My Kids’ Stepmother: 6 Reasons I’m Thanking You on Mother’s Day

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Every Mother's Day I think back to when I was a little girl and my fantasy image of my future life as a grown-up.

It looked a lot like my parents' life: happily married for decades with a house full of kids.

Never once did I envision that by the age of 30 I’d be a divorced mother of three, or that a few years later I’d be remarried and the stepmother of two step kids. (Whom I love as much as my own.)

And never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be sharing my own kids with a stepmother.

This was not the picture in my head of what my life was supposed to look like. 

Today as I look at our extended family tree, it's got so many extra branches it looks more like an overgrown vine. But I don’t see a tangled mess of weeds. I see a vine that’s beautiful, fruitful, and full.

Full of love, grace, chaos, wisdom, passion, and extra hearts and hands who embrace my kids and call them family.

It's not always easy, and this doesn't match what the world (or the church) typically celebrates as a picture of a "healthy" and "normal" family. But I refuse to be ashamed, because we're not normal, and that's OK. I recognize how rare, and how truly good our situation is. Somehow we've all found God's love and grace through all of this, and learned to lean more on him.

For that, I’m grateful.

And focusing on gratitude helps me embrace the reality of my motherhood with a heart that is full of this truth:

Our family is not broken—we are blended. And we are blessed.

[related: Click here to see the new devotional book that the author of this article is gifting her kids' stepmom for Mother's Day!] 

So this Mother’s Day I’m choosing to celebrate my kids’ stepmom with a letter thanking her for how she impacts the lives of my kids:

Dear Kari,

As the world celebrates mothers, I celebrate YOU—the stepmom of my kids—and the qualities you’re teaching them with the gift of your life in theirs:

  1. Patience: You endured the awkward season of getting to know your husband’s insanely extroverted ex-wife and decided that showing up and being present on the sidelines of the kids’ sporting events mattered more than avoiding the situation. (I know it wasn’t easy.) Thank you.
  2. Nurture: You are a true caretaker and a champion for the underdog. Whether it’s rescuing an animal in distress, volunteering your time to serve those less fortunate, or caring for a family member when they need you—you’re the kind of woman who’s always there for others. Thank you.
  3. Grace: You allow a continued friendship between me and the kids’ dad, and have extended genuine friendship to me as well. (And thankfully I can at least always count on you to answer text messages! lol!) There’s nothing like toasting a glass of wine together at a graduation party or how you save seats for us next to you in church that proves to the world that love is much more powerful than hate. Thank you.
  4. Faith: Your bold, wholehearted pursuit of a relationship with Jesus and the strength you draw from your ever-growing faith are both an example and an inspiration for all of us. Thank you.
  5. Authenticity: You’re the real deal. You don’t claim to be perfect, nor condemn others who aren’t. There’s nothing put-on about you. You embrace who you are and laugh at the rest. Thank you.
  6. Love: You make my kids’ dad happier than I’ve ever seen him. Because of you, the kids will have a legacy of seeing their dad in a healthy marriage that they’ll carry forward forever. Thank you.

So thank you, Kari, for investing your heart and influence into the lives of my kids…OUR kids. Thanks for showing them that love is bigger than fear—and that love wins.

I’m honored to share Mother’s Day with you and recognize that our kids will truly be better because they had another mother like YOU to love them. 

You rock, sister-mama! I love you!

Happy Mother's Day!

Together in Jesus, with love and gratitude-


P.S. Here's a sneak peek at your Mother's Day gift! Let's pretend I'll have it wrapped it up nice and pretty and manage to get it to you by Mother's Day! 

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Showing 5 comments
  • Joy

    I wish I was there. I am grateful she is good to my boys. I just haven’t made it that far yet. Maybe there’s hope someday. Thanks for sharing your progress.

    • Kami Gilmour

      Thanks for sharing, Joy. At least you’re on the right track! Being grateful that she is good to your boys is exactly where to start. Stay in that place of gratitude, and if you feel brave enough, reach out to her this Mother’s Day and let her know that. That’s where I first began my relationship with Kari several years ago. It started with a very simple moment of softness where I sent her a chort, simple Mother’s Day card. It opened up a world of change…and we are all better for it. Bottom line–your kids will see your grace and strength in your kindness and it will impact them.
      Happy Mother’s Day to you!

      • K

        I’m not there yet either. I’m glad she is good to my son, but I’m just not ready. Healing from a lot from my divorce.

  • Cheryl

    Thank you for posting such an inspiring yet reality based message! My children were grown when their dad remarried, but everything you wrote is still true for me and their stepmom.
    My ex and I put a LOT of effort in maintaining an amicable/friendly relationship after the divorce. That wasn’t a ‘walk in the park’ but was so worth it to set a Godly example for our kids.
    And when he married, each if the grown kids had to find their way to a relationship with their new mom. We kept going back to the essentials: she loves God, she loves your dad, he loves her, and he’s happy! Regardless of the past, we all want the same future – mutually loving and respectful relationships as we find our way, serving God and living the best life we can in Him.

  • Jenn

    I was looking for wording for my kids stepmom for a card and I have a lot of good ideas now. However the funny part is the fact that her name happens to be Kari too!

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