Dear Stepmoms: You Matter
I think most moms would agree that at times, being a mother is a challenging and thankless endeavor. We’re their number one fan. We attend endless school events and chauffeur them from one activity to the next. This is what we signed up for when we decided to have children.
We love them unconditionally.
We love them fiercely.
Now imagine if you can, you do all these things. You endure the roller coaster of emotions that is parenthood, but without having made that choice. Imagine the sacrifices. While you raise this child that is not yours by blood you will also encounter something else.
You are second rate.
You are not Mom. You are not Dad. And the rest of the world agrees with that child you love as your own.
He’s not really yours.
Welcome to the life of a step parent.
I have a wonderful relationship with my stepson. My son’s stepmom has a wonderful relationship with him. Any decent person from a blended family wouldn’t pry into the details of these arrangements, but most strangers inadvertently do.
Mother’s Day has just recently passed and the comments I have seen directed at Mothers’ in a variety of different situations were shocking to me, but this isn’t just about one day a year. As horrified as I was by the social media posts about pregnant women being “almost moms”, I also found that upon introspection I face the same opposition every day.
My husband and I went to the grocery store recently with our son (the other two were with their other parents for the weekend).
“Is this your first?” She asked, smiling at the baby.
“Oh wow! Where are your brothers today?” she asked my baby.
I didn’t respond, it was really none of her business, but when I looked up she was waiting expectantly for an answer.
“With their other parents” I said, and her smile disappeared.
Uncomfortable silence followed until I left the store. She had inadvertently crossed the invisible line between a polite conversation and a personal one.
I am twenty-seven years old.
When people ask about my family they are shocked to find out I have three children. They accuse me of being too young, and which point I usually explain that my oldest is actually my stepson. They relax when they realize they were right, and I wasn’t a teen mom, and then immediately dismiss my stepson. I have only two children.
What would you do when people ask how many children you have?
Respond with, “I have two children” and ignore the nagging feeling that you left out an important member of your family.
“I have three children but one is my stepson” and then explain your living situation to someone who was only making polite small talk?
It’s awkward, and it’s hard.
I get off easy on Mother’s Day. I have two biological children, and my family celebrates me, their Mom. Stepmoms’ without biological children have it a bit harder. They spend all year filling the role of Mom, but when that day comes around they have an empty house, and a surprising amount of rude people telling them they aren’t really a mom.
When someone in that position lets the words “my kid” slip out in conversation they are regularly corrected. “Your husbands kid, right?”.
There is yet another variable in the life of a step parent that most people don’t consider. The child isn’t obligated to love you unconditionally the way you love them. Sometimes they don’t even like you, and that is often the hardest part.
Regardless of how we got here, if we are calling ourselves mom, or referring to our children, we don’t need to be corrected. We know where we stand, and it’s not up to you to judge. There are so many different kinds of parents and families in the world today. They should all be respected.
Step parents, you matter. You make our children’s lives better. You make the sacrifices of parenthood without complaint, and you love our children like your own. You do this because they ARE yours, and I appreciate you.
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