On Being The Step-Mom of a Teenager

A day that used to seem so far away is here. Jonas turns 13 today.

I’ve only known Jonas for the last 11 years and 5 months, so I haven’t earned his teenager-hood as a parent technically–but many would attest that I’ve earned it emotionally! Jonas is exactly what parents have been promising me in a pre-teen/teen since I entered youth ministry and started dispensing advice to parents of 12 year-old boys. There are days he makes me laugh harder than I have in ages and days when he makes me cry more than I did after that one horrible break-up during my freshman year of college.

I still remember with vivid clarity the days when he said “mok” instead of “milk” and responded to “I’m sleepy!” with “My sleepy too” in the most pitiful, tired tone he could manage. I remember embarrassing tantrums and grocery store aisle melt-downs. I remember long late-evening drives in the car with him in his car-seat refusing to give it up and fall asleep. I remember his toddler and pre-school theories about life and God and family and friends. I remember a lot of stories I’ll avoid telling because he would be so embarrassed if he knew I had.

“Why did you name me Jonas!” He yelled at me one time in a fit of eight year-old rage.

Avoiding laughter, I responded kindly, “Honey, that’s one thing you can’t blame me for!”

Realizing his mistake, he couldn’t help but laugh.

About helping raise a child to this point as a stepmother, I’ll say this: it’s been the greatest joy and the greatest heartbreak I’ve ever experienced. When he’s sweet, he’s the sweetest kid ever. When he’s funny, he’s hilarious. When he’s angry…stay out of his way.

He’s so much like his father sometimes, in manner, in words, in appearance–but I know he doesn’t want to hear that.

Jonas is smart. He’s witty. He’s a good dancer. He’s a fast runner. He’s a good listener.

Right now, he thinks he’s not good at anything and that God didn’t give him any special gifts or talents. But he’s wrong. I’m hopeful that one day he’ll be able to see that for himself.

Sometimes I overhear him having a conversation with an older church member or with one of our parents or with one of his friends and I think: “Did he come up with that idea on his own? Did he think of that story and share it without prompting? Did he think to ask that insightful question all by himself? Did he understand what that person was saying without our help?” Yes, most of the time he did. And I shouldn’t be surprised, but sometimes I still am.

In 18 months, he’ll start high school, but let’s not rush it!

Happy Birthday, kid! I love you. May you know God’s blessings that fill your life and God’s love for you today and always.