10 May Ingredients for Successful Co-Mothering
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet and it has nothing with logistics or kissing boo boos or even balancing work and life. It has everything to do with the heart.
Nothing in my life makes me feel as insecure and out of control as motherhood. I want to control their happiness and their safety and their choices. I want to be the soft place where they land while balancing the firmness of boundaries. I want them to avoid the hurts life will inevitably fling their way. I want to stand in front of them and fight their battles. I want to save them from the mistakes I’ve made. I want to be like Jesus for them.
I stink at this. Big time. Because I’m not Jesus. I’m this messy, hormonal, flawed woman who struggles with sins and baggage. I need Jesus’ grace and mercy on an hourly basis and so do the other mommas I share kids with. You see, I’m a bio mom, a step(bonus) mom, and a foster mom.
Mothering another woman’s child is a tender process, one I’ve messed up a lot. I’ve stepped on a lot of toes, have misunderstood and have been misunderstood, and unintentionally hurt others.
A ton of grace, prayer, over communication, respect, and assuming positive intent are the best ingredients for solid “co-mothering” relationship – well at least a shot at it. As I mother these children I did not bear, I constantly ask myself what I would want another mom to do if she was in my shoes.
Milestones, gifts, parties, hair, piercings, school grades/choices/updates, special events, trips, etc., are all things that are important to the child and to parents. When my bonus daughter was younger, her mom and I chatted often about these sorts of things. It was important to the both of us that she would find a special bond with me, while still nurturing the one she had with her mom.
When my foster kiddo has visits with mom, I hand over any art projects I have saved up and give her any hard copies of pictures I’ve taken of him. I also text her pictures and videos of him, along with any updates on his development. I will give her ideas of fun gifts he would like and set up activities they can do together when she’s with him. My goal is that they bond because that’s his momma.
God has grown me a lot as a human through this process. I’m by (sin) nature Type A and I want all things to line up and be fair and right and good. That doesn’t happen when you throw in other people’s opinions and traditions and wounds – it just doesn’t. What I have learned is that if I make choices and choose words from a place of love, then the child (in whatever category they fall in), always wins. The idea isn’t to compete, the idea is to nurture and promote healthy relationships, whatever that may look like.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Renee Beste is a wife, mom, marketing manager, and lover of Jesus, chaos, and fun.