Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Wicked Not!
Not All Step-mothers Are Wicked
My greatest blessing is being married to John Carney. Raising our three beautiful children, Luke, J.D., and Kiki, is a testament to our extraordinary relationship. Our love is limitless, and the symphony created by each of our unique gifts is harmonious. We are bound by a love that is all inclusive. Our journey of becoming this close knit family seems a long one, but a story that we feel needs to be shared in hopes of inspiring others.
My marriage to John transformed me from a girl to a woman of substance. The person I am today is completely different from the woman I imagined I would be while growing up. Life lessons molded and shaped me throughout adulthood and most importantly parenthood. I am grateful for the foundation of faith that has sustained us and the wisdom and practical understanding of my husband; John is rock solid and my anchor.
As I look back on my premarital days, I smile at my awkward naivety.
I remember being so sure I would never marry a man with children. What a red flag! Oh, the absurdity of wearing those rose colored glasses!
My Auntie and Uncle, Angie and Kenny Lake, are parents to me, and I trust them absolutely. My Uncle Kenny introduced John to me. He somehow knew John would become my husband! This alone gave me the confidence and trust I needed to rebuke those vows I had spoken in my youth, because John Carney, my prince, came with a little toddler boy, Lukey. It was innately effortless to embrace whatever he brought to the relationship.
John was the missing piece of my life’s puzzle.
We seemed to fit together perfectly. As we became acquainted, we realized how similar our backgrounds were. We both love the water; John surfs, and I am a former competitive swimmer! We both played musical instruments when we were younger; John played the trumpet and I, the violin! We were both a bit delusional about our musical ability, and we now laugh at our own false impressions. John was a boy scout and I was a girl scout! John was a football player and I was a cheerleader! We both have three siblings, two girls and one boy! We both went to parochial schools. And most importantly, we both have a deep faith and love God! We share an intrinsic desire to give back to our communities through charity and helping children. Even my dearest grandmother, Mamo, who loves John, gently encouraged the relationship and at every opportunity told me, “Holly-Dolly, he is the one!”
So, I was excited to meet this beautiful tow headed blonde toddler, Luke, John’s son. It seemed to me that nothing could possibly go wrong. As a junior high school teacher, I loved kids of all ages! I assumed that this would be an easy and awesome transition. I never had a negative thought about marrying the man of my dreams, who came with an incredibly beautiful child. Why should I? Love is all inclusive.
I said “yes” to John’s proposal of marriage, and I whole-heartedly embraced my role as wife and mother! I had never met a man that was more compatible. Yet, as the wedding of my dreams was planned, there were no baby showers for me, no gifts for a “new mother to be,” no cards for a “new mother to be,” no children’s books to share with my new son, absolutely nothing to welcome me into my new motherhood. Yet, I jumped in with both feet because I had a lot of hope and a lot of love to give! Love is all inclusive.
I will never forget when John and I came home from our honeymoon in Jamaica. Luke was home and excited to be with the two of us as one complete family. The first night home, Lukey was in the tub, and John and I were in the kitchen and I heard his little voice call for me… “Mommy, Momeeeeeeeee, Mommy!” I looked at John in awe and wonder and asked “Is he talking to me?” Tentatively, I walked toward the bathroom and peeked in at this adorable preschooler splashing around like a fish in a bowl. I said “yes?” and Luke started laughing and chatting up a storm. Something impressed upon me that very moment in time: this child wanted normalcy, he wanted a loving family, and he trusted that I loved him like a mommy should. The amazing thing is that other people close to us, not wanting to pressure Luke, referred to me as “Holly” for many years until we had our next son, J.D. Then everyone, including John, referred to me as “Mommy” so there would not be a difference for the boys.
Love is all inclusive.
I still marvel that Luke called me mommy right away, because that gave me confidence to love him as my own. We sadly learned that Luke had influences that resented him calling me mommy, and yet, his strong soul resisted all negativity, and he only called me Mommy. Proving yet again, love is all inclusive. Children love normalcy and love being loved and accepted unconditionally … doesn’t everyone?
It wasn’t long before the challenges began … questions, judgments, and assumptions about me as a person. As a newlywed, sitting at a gala table for our son’s elementary school in Solana Beach, I was shunned by a couple that we had truly liked. Later I discovered the reason; I was not the biological mother. This was certainly no fairy tale, but then again, it was MY story and nothing could change the fact that I was deeply in love with John and this amazing and beautiful little boy! Love is all inclusive. So, I persevered.
I have never referred to Luke as my “step-son.”
I always introduced him and referred to him as our oldest son or child. If someone questioned the relationship, I would rather be the one alienated and set apart than Luke. If pressed, I confessed, “I am not his biological mother, or I am his step-mom.” I couldn’t bear to alienate him by calling him “step-son.” No, he is my son, the first born to my beloved husband, and I wanted Luke to feel 100% a member of our family. I would sacrifice my own title of mom before I would sacrifice his God given right of “son.” Yet, the negative judgments were made when people discovered that I was a “step-mother.” The funny thing that Luke and I still laugh about today is … that so many times throughout his life people said to us “You look just like your mother.” We would both look at each other and smile and say “Thank You.” Love is all inclusive!
Luke and I had a blast when we were together! We listened to records and read books from my old elementary school library. We loved to swim and walk on the beach. We loved to color together and chit chat. I taught Luke how to roller blade and how to tie his shoe. I loved telling him stories, especially about the Bible, and he loved learning. We learned about each other’s favorite colors and favorite foods! He loved it when I made spaghetti! One day when he was much older, he said “Mom, I love going shopping with you!” We both laughed when I replied ” No you don’t, you love going buying with me!” He knew my generous nature, and I knew his tender and spiritual heart. We loved and respected each other, even when the world told us not to! We wanted normalcy and family. We had it most of the time, much to the chagrin of outside influences. We wanted to love and be loved in spite of those who said it was wrong!
But love is all inclusive and we chose to ignore mistaken beliefs and misconceptions.
As a step-mother, I learned that my role was no different than a biological mother, especially since John and I had children within 18 months of marriage. I loved Luke from the start. I prayed with him and for him, made his breakfast, lunch and dinner, washed his clothes, helped with homework and projects, held him and comforted him when he was sick, listened to his troubles, laughed with him, disciplined him when he was naughty, and loved him 24/7!
Luke thrived because of this kind of guidance, nurturing and mothering. I am grateful to have made a difference in his life and in the lives of his siblings, J.D. and Kiki. All three children have grown together in discipline, direction, instruction, laughter, joy, wisdom and faith! Over the years, we have learned the toughest troubles came from outside perspectives and false beliefs.
Being a step-mother is an opportunity to be distinctly excellent.
The time has come to demystify the wicked step-mother image and create a new archetype. The step-mother in my book is an apple-mom! An apple-mom is good and gives nourishment, the kind we get when we eat a nice big juicy red apple. Apple-moms nurture and support good health, both physical and spiritual.
It’s time to give all step-mothers permission to love their husband’s children as their own! Also, it’s time to give all step-mothers sanction to believe that they are wonderful mothers. Step-mothers can give birth to magnificence and beauty by fostering profound love of her step-child!
Not All Step-mothers are Wicked!
The Carneys are returning to New Orleans because John is being inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame. A beloved former Saints place kicker, John Carney spent all or part of eight seasons (2001-06, 09-10) with the Black & Gold. During his 23-year NFL career, he became one of only three players in history to play in four decades and became one of seven players to score more than 2,000 career points. He will forever be remembered as a member of the WHO DAT Nation and for that game-winning field goal in the 2005 season opener against Carolina, only 13 days after Hurricane Katrina.
While in New Orleans, Holly will be kicking off her nationwide book tour. She will also make media stops in NY, LA, San Diego and Chicago to name a few. Her book will be available in stores and online this December.
Interested in learning more? Would you like to meet the author? Join Holly and John at Palm Tree Playground in Metairie on Monday, November 17th at 10:00am for a reading of Wicked Not! and autograph signing!
Enter the sponsored giveaway below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Holly’s book, Wicked Not!…Not All Step-mothers Are Wicked plus Wicked Not! merchandise, including t-shirt, candle, CD of “Wicked I’m Not” performed by musician Tim Foley, and NFL game day bag, along with a signed autograph picture of John Carney and a signed football.