I love that this blog celebrates motherhood in all forms. Giving birth, adoption, fostering, older moms, single moms, working moms, stay-at-home moms, and women who want nothing more in life than to be called “Mom”. But there is one category that people don’t talk about: stepmom. It’s kind of a taboo type of motherhood, especially around Mother’s Day.
I didn’t meet my stepchildren until my husband and I had been dating about six months, and by that point I had decided that I was all in. My stepchildren lived with their mom most of the time and visited their dad every other weekend, like many other divorced family situations. After meeting them, there were not very many softball or basketball games that I missed, and we began slowly building our blended family relationship. I have always wanted to be a mother, since before I was even old enough to be one, so having a full house has always been a dream of mine. And here I was, newly married at 22 years old, with two children already. Yes, stepchildren, but nonetheless, MY stepchildren.
Now, there is no way I’m saying that the past 10 years have been easy. Far from it. There are the obvious obstacles: splitting time between biological parents, the “You’re not my mom!” arguments, building a strong marriage in spite of all of it. Through all of our trials, tears, and teenage years, we have made it out on the other side of what (I hope) were the most difficult of times. I haven’t always gotten it right with them, and I know I have made mistakes. Our current relationships aren’t perfect, but can anyone honestly say that their relationship with their teenage/young adult child is perfect? The love I have for my stepchildren goes far beyond the kids that live with us part-time, and sometimes I stumble in conversations to call them anything but my son and daughter.
No one really talks about being a stepmom. You are definitely not “Mom” level, but you’re not “family friend” level either. Depending upon the situation, you could be the sole mother figure in their lives or a “bonus mom” in addition to their biological mother. You could be more of a mother to the child than their actual birth mother. Or you could be an every-other-weekend stepmom. You can be involved in every aspect of your stepchild’s life, or you can be only as involved as they will let you. And maybe that’s the reason no one talks about step-motherhood, because you don’t fit into a really solid category of “mom”. For me, being a stepmother has been all about my stepchildren, their happiness and safety, and how I can best love them and help them become responsible, well-rounded adults.
So when Mother’s Day rolls around every year, the “big kids” are at their mother’s house for the day, as they should be. My husband and our younger girls go buy some flowers and chocolate and we eat dinner with my mother-in-law. My heart is SO FULL of joy to be Mommy to my little girls, and I adore their more frequent hugs and kisses (pretty sure the “baby” of the family times her kisses on the hour, every hour) on that one day of the year. But I shed a tear of joy when I get a text from one of my stepkids that simply says “Happy Mother’s Day”. There are no long texts or calls, but just a simple statement that literally makes my year. And it doesn’t happen every year, or from both kids in one year, but those are messages that never get deleted and I’m overjoyed to show my husband.
Once, a woman commented to me that she never really loved her stepchildren like she did her own children. In a group of people. Out loud. REALLY? If those are your true feelings, I’m glad you can own them. But I can honestly say that I don’t love my biological children more than my stepchildren; they are, all four of them, my kids whom I love unconditionally. Like any other mom, I’ve messed up and made mistakes and had to ask for forgiveness from all of the kids. But love is a decision, and just like I decided to love their father, I have decided to love them for the rest of my life. Motherhood in all forms isn’t easy, especially with an extra label like “step”, but it’s so worth it.
Happy Mother’s Day, fellow moms. No matter how you came into this honored position, I pray you have a wonderful day and hug your children tightly.