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SALT LAKE CITY — A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at an event celebrating women. It was there that I met Sara. Her story of forgiveness and love is so rare that I felt it had to be shared. She was gracious enough to allow me the honor.
The first time Sara met Lindsey she fretted and worried. What would her ex-husband's new wife think of her? What would she look like? Was she nice? Would they get along? And most importantly: how would she handle another woman in the lives of her three kids? Sara had been given plenty of advice from others.
"Stand your ground."
"Make sure she knows that you are the mom and that you always will be."
"You make the decisions where your kids are concerned-not her."
But after Sara met Lindsey all she could think was "if she had been someone I had met on the street, I would have loved her."
In the beginning, Sara felt she had to compete. Lindsey was not only beautiful and smart, she was also very talented.
One night after her older children were asleep, Sara sat rocking her baby. She looked down at his face. He was so innocent, yet he had been born into a situation of turmoil.
As a pre-school teacher Sara had taught many children from divorce. She thought of the many things she had witnessed these tiny little ones say and do.
"My mom hates my other mom."
"I need two report cards because my parents don't talk to each other."
Perhaps the most heartbreaking, was a 4-year-old girl who was making a Mother's Day card. This little girl looked almost fearful as she quickly rushed to Sara, "Please don't tell my Mommy that I made one for my step-mom too."
Sara understood that most of these children loved both parents; it was the parents that did not get along.
As Sara continued to rock her baby, she realized she never wanted him to feel like those children did. She wanted her kids to see love, not hatred.
Sara, like many moms, had always said that she would do anything for her kids. Suddenly she realized that she could. Sara made a difficult decision: She would try to love Lindsey for their sakes.
Lindsey and Sara discovered that the children were a common ground and they spoke often about them. Over the next months, Sara and Lindsey's conversations went from a sentence, to a minute, to minutes and then to hours. Somehow Sara and Lindsey had actually become friends.
In divorce we are always looking for where to place the blame. When we simply forgive we allow ourselves and those around us to become better. This didn't happen overnight, it was a process.
"The more I got to know Lindsey, the more I truly loved her," Sara said. "I then began to see her amazing qualities and how they would not only bless my life but the lives of our three children. Lindsey is a great woman. In divorce we are always looking for where to place the blame. When we simply forgive we allow ourselves and those around us to become better. This didn't happen overnight, it was a process. I knew what I wanted and I was willing to put my pride and any hurt I may have had aside for my children. That's what mothers do. We put our children's needs before our own."
"Incidentally, that's also what most step-mothers do as well," she continued. "They put another's child's needs above their own. Lindsey not only was willing to take on my three children, but she legitimately treats them like they are her own. She loves them and they love her as a second mom. That is something that should be celebrated, not hated. All it would have taken was for me not to allow that for my children, for all of us to be miserable. Allowing my children to love her has taken nothing away from me."
Because of her choice, Sara's children never have to choose which set of parents they sit by at events. They all sit together. Their kids make two Mother's Day cards. They are also held accountable if they say something to one mother about the other that is rude or untrue. The parents are solid in their commitment to each other and to their children, and their children are happy and don't see their situation as a difficult one.
Sara's decision has not only healed her own family, but it has begun to heal others as well.
A friend of mine who also happens to be a step-mother, attended the event where Sara and I both spoke. Sara's story of forgiveness and love made such an impact on my friend that at the recent graduation of her step-son, when her husband's ex walked in the door, my friend did something she nor her husband's ex had ever done in the entire time they had known each other. My friend bravely stood and motioned for her to come sit with them. She did, and for the first time in a decade all of them sat together as a whole family.
Kate Rose Lee is a Utah native, mother of three and author. You can read more of her writing as well as her books at www.momentsofchunder.blogspot.com Contact her at email@example.com