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by Marilyn Asmuth

A Chicken Soup for the Stepfamily Soul Contribution

To grow old into a life full of GRACE, HOPE & LOVE and to lavish these gifts on a large family of my own stirred within me from an early age. Instead of children born of my body, I now have two beautiful stepchildren embraced by my heart. We have shared our familial dance for a decade so far.

When the children's mother believed me when I said that I never wanted to take her place but to simply be in a unique position to love and teach her children, the rhythm of our lives took on a fresh calm. She shared that she heard one definition of a step-parent is that of the one who 'steps in' when the parent is not there. The trust she places in me is invaluable.

It will forever be poignant that I am not the preferred person to love my stepchildren. When my rational mind takes over I know that their preference is as it is designed to be and my elevated spirit celebrates the wonder of the parent/child bond.

The LOVE I have for my stepchildren has expanded my heart more than I could ever imagine. The HOPE I hold is that there are places within me where they find safety and celebration for their amazing lives. The GRACE I pray for is fresh with each new morning.

I hold the children with hands wide open. May my heart continue to be open and expanded. I choose LOVE.