Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to Katie who’s kicking off our month-long Special Mamas series with a guest post about her unique journey to motherhood, including falling in love with a father of twin boys who’d lost his wife to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I so appreciate Katie’s heart, and the way she’s embraced her new role as wife and mama with such grace. It’s an honor to host Katie and the beautiful story God is writing through her life. I’m certain her words will touch you as much as they did me. Enjoy, friends.
This is Ben and Jake. I became their mom on April 2, 2016, the day I married their dad, Sam. I didn’t give birth to them, and their biological mom didn’t want to give them up. She fought for them and she fought hard. So here is my bittersweet story of how I became a mom at the age of 37 in a way that wasn’t MY plan, and how I have learned to unconditionally love someone else’s children.
For many years I wondered if I was ever going to be a mom. I was in a long-term relationship that was pretty unhealthy and at times, attacked my soul. I gave up dreaming. I knew I wanted to be married and to have children but I was letting someone else control my life plan. And in the process I was losing myself.
I met Sam in 2013. He had lost his wife, Erika, from complications of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in December of 2012. She was 39 years old. Erika and Sam, were the parents of Benjamin and Jacob, twin three-year-old boys. They tried for four years to have the boys. After a round of successful IVF, the boys were born in 2009.
I knew Sam’s wife Erika, not well, but I knew who she was. I knew her heart, how kind she was, how smart she was and how beautiful she was, inside and out. Years prior, she was a patient of mine at the dental office where I worked as a hygienist. We would talk every six months at her appointments, and got to know each other in a casual way. I had been following Erika’s story through her CaringBridge page. I ran into her when she was sick. We reconnected after not seeing each other for years. When she passed away after a long battle with leukemia (and eventually pneumonia which was caused by complications from her bone marrow transplant), I knew I wanted to pay my respects and attend her funeral. I didn’t know her husband, Sam, at the time. I just remember seeing this man holding his twin sons in his arms, and following her casket out of the church when the funeral was over. I thought to myself, “now what is he going to do?” I knew that his faith in the Lord was what was going to pull him through his grief and I accepted Christ into my life that day, too.
On the drive home I found myself in tears. Angry at the way I had been living. Knowing how hard Erika fought to live, I knew that I had to change my life. I wanted to live, not just be alive. I wanted to be a mom and have a family. So I knew from that day forward that I needed to get out of my relationship. I prayed hard for God to heal my heart and help heal the pain from my past.
Fast forward to almost a year later. Sam came and spoke at a leukemia event where I was running a marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. That first night we talked for six hours and eventually became best friends. We were both so broken, and I truly feel like our friendship over the year or so saved both of us. Neither of us were ready for anything serious that first year as our hearts were still in the past. But we found comfort in our friendship and had hope of love for our future.
Over the past year and a half I was dating Sam, who was a single dad. He was trying to do it all by himself. Trying to give the love and cuddling touch of a mom, and the stern disciplinary hand of a dad. He was running himself down. I knew that it was my calling from the Lord to step in and take over the “mom” roll. I had visions early on that God was calling me to do this.
We became engaged on August 14, 2015. I couldn’t be more excited to marry my soul mate. On April 2, 2016, I married Sam and became a mom to Ben and Jake, now six years old. Stepping in as the mother figure of these two boys had many highs and many lows. I had always been an “auntie” to everyone else’s kids. I never was actually responsible for my own. I didn’t know how to be a mom. I wasn’t feeling that natural “motherly instinct.” I remember times where I actually shut the bathroom door and cried, thinking “I used to have no one who needed me but me. I don’t know how to do this.” That is where God came in the picture. I started praying and asking for wisdom, for strength, and patience. I turned to him for guidance on how to be a mom. I wanted to know what little boys need from a mom. How can I make sure they know how special and how loved and wanted they are? How I can be a role model to them? How I can love their dad in a way that they can learn to love a woman from? How I can raise loving and respectful young men who don’t have to recover from their childhood?
As most moms go through, I found days where I couldn’t handle it one more minute and then something would happen that would make my heart melt. The love and acceptance I had from these two little boys was nothing more than a complete gift from above. The snuggles, the kisses, the comments about how I am “perfect just the way I am,” and how much they loved me. The love I felt from Sam and the support he has given me from day one has been priceless. He is my true soul mate and the most amazing partner.
Loving someone else’s kids has come with the challenge of trying to get them to recognize me as their mom, while still keeping the memory of their biological mom alive, too. Her soul purpose in life was to be a mom and a wife. She fought hard to live for them and they should know that. They should remember what she looked like, what some of her favorite things were, what parts of her are apparent in both of them. Jacob has her eyes and Ben has her hair. Jacob has her fighting spirit and Ben has her stubbornness. I remind them of their mom as often as I can. Who she was, and how much she loved them.
God has a plan for our new family and we pray that he will be the leader and will guide us in the direction we need to go in. We trust in his plan, not ours.
Thank you Jesus for this life, this love and this opportunity to really “live.” I don’t take any of this for granted. It is Grace at its finest.
My name is Katie Rodriguez. I’m a wife, mom of two gorgeous boys, dental hygienist, and fitness lover. I have the most amazing group of female friends that carry me through this crazy thing we call “life.” I blog at Lovingherfamily.blogspot.com if you’d like to follow our family’s journey!
This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!