"Listen. This is just a dream. But very clever people can hear dreams. So please just listen. I know you’re afraid, but being afraid is all right. Because didn’t anybody ever tell you? Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster, and cleverer, and stronger. And one day, you’re gonna come back to this barn, and on that day, you’re going to be very afraid indeed. But that’s okay. Because if you’re very wise and very strong, fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind. … It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed, or in the dark, so long as you know it’s okay to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to nothing else, listen to this: you’re always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like… a companion. A constant companion, always there. But that’s okay. Because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I’m gonna leave you something just so you’ll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all."
-Clara, Doctor Who

There are millions of people all over the world who take care of children they did not make. The stepfamily role only has a stigma because of humanity, because of insecurity, because unlike situations with orphans or adoption or fostering there are often more than two parents. We have created this conflict. Many societies all over the world raise children in community but we make steps feel less than for the same reason that kids put their peers down. We do it out of fear. 

I would like to propose, and really listen to what I am saying here, that when families divorce and steps enter as adults we deal with our feelings of inadequacy on our own and happily allow other parental figures into our children's lives. In moments of clarity I have been told by the kids birth mother that she is happy her ex found me, she is happy it is me! She has said in moments of a peaceful heart that she is glad they have someone like me. Those moments of peace are more rare than I hoped but I do know deep down how she really feels. And I know what she isn't saying either. When I really listen to the things the kids tell me she says I can hear her real words, "I am afraid I am not good enough", "I am afraid you are a better mom than me", "I am afraid of trying to be a better person." I hear the whispers of her heart and they are the same feelings of being less than that I struggle with, just in different ways. Why do we do this? Why are all mothers so afraid of failing?  

I have found that key to good parenting in a lot of ways is listening. Being there for your kids so they know they can talk to you and really truly listening to what they are saying (and what they aren't). We can build confidence listening and responding to a cockamamie story that has no plot or characters but that our kids spent the morning making up in their heads. I know so much about Ninjago and the characters from the Frozen world and 7th grade lunch table gossip. I just listen. 

I talk a lot, don't get me wrong but boy oh boy can I put on my listening cap and focus in to the most random or mundane thing. And I can hear the whispers unspoken. I struggle with wondering why I don't listen to myself?  What am I so afraid of?