I vividly remember my first Mother’s Day as a stepmom. I felt left-out, unappreciated, and disappointed.
It seemed entirely unfair that I would help to raise my stepdaughter and wouldn’t receive recognition for that contribution from so many in my life. I could perform many of the same tasks as a “real mom,” but still, Mother’s Day was reserved for them instead of me.
Even though I can still remember how deeply it hurt, I have gained so much perspective since that first holiday. I want to share my very best tips for navigating your first Mother’s Day as a stepmom to help you have a more peaceful and heartwarming day than I did all those years ago.
6 Tips for your First Mother’s Day as a Stepmom
1. Stepmother’s Day is the Sunday after Mother’s Day
It’s standard in most custody agreements, where applicable, for Mom to have Mother’s Day weekend and Dad to have Father’s Day weekend.
For stepmoms who help raise their stepchildren and want to celebrate with them and be recognized by them on Mother’s Day, that’s a really disappointing reality.
It means that they’ll never see their stepchildren on Mother’s Day. There will likely be no mimosa brunch, bear hugs, or even a phone call.
But, there’s hope! The Sunday following Mother’s Day is actually Stepmother’s Day. There’s truly no need to fight over Mother’s Day when Stepmother’s Day is YOUR time to shine.
Cherish this weekend with your children, or with your partner if you don’t have any children of your own, and get ready to party next weekend!
2. Let go of your expectations.
So much of our disappointment, frustration, and overwhelm as stepmoms comes down to unmet expectations.
Mother’s Day for stepmom is no different. Do your best to release any expectations you have for the day.
Don’t anticipate your stepchildren’s other parent is going to think about you and have them call you.
Don’t expect your best friend will think to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.
Don’t plan on the day revolving around you, because it might not and you might be setting yourself up for a disappointing day.
With that being said…
3. Stop hinting and start asking.
Ask for what you want that will make you feel appreciated and seen this Mother’s Day.
In the early part of my relationship, I expected my husband, Kevin, to know exactly how I wanted to celebrate (or be celebrated) because I had communicated my love languages.
And then, when the day would pass without a greeting card (he thought they were overpriced and just thrown away at the end of the day), I would be left feeling unappreciated and insecure.
If he really knew me, wouldn’t he have written me a sweet note? If he really cherished our relationship, wouldn’t he have made dinner reservations?
But the reality is, I never voiced my expectations, and I can’t hold my partner to standards that I never verbalized! Furthermore, I can’t be disappointed that expectations that were never communicated weren’t met.
I had to stop the hints (“I remember how big of a deal my mom used to make about homemade cards growing up… She really loved them.”) and instead communicate in a very straightforward manner (“Hey babe, it would make me feel so special if you encouraged Krista to make a card for me for Mother’s Day this year.”).
Our partners aren’t mind readers, and they likely will miss the mark, if we haven’t discussed our needs.
Plus, our partners want us to be happy. Telling them exactly how to make that happen sets us all up for success.
4. Keep it in perspective.
This 24 hour period does not define you or your relationship.
You are an incredible partner, a great stepmom, and an irreplaceable member of your family every single day.
If you don’t hear from your stepchildren on Sunday, if you don’t receive a handmade card, if your celebration doesn’t meet your expectations… No matter what happens this weekend, you are SO MUCH MORE than this day.
This is just one day, and you can’t let it affect the other 364 days in your year. You are better than that, you are stronger than that.
5. It’s not one or the other.
There’s a very good chance that your stepchild’s mom is going to get recognized this weekend. It could be a card, a present, or a special meal.
But it’s imperative to remember that an expression of love toward Mom is not an expression of un-love toward you.
This isn’t a choice for your stepchildren. Their mom is their mom, plain and simple.
But celebrating her isn’t the opposite of celebrating you, and it’s important you understand that.
You can both be special to your stepchildren. It’s not one or the other.
6. Stay off social media if you’re missing the kids.
Your feed is going to be filled with beautiful family photos, partner appreciation posts, and smiling moms.
If you’re missing the kids or if your partner missed the mark on meeting your expectations, I’m going to encourage you to say “No thanks!” to Facebook or Instagram for 24 hours.
You can thank me later.
These 6 tips are minor alone, but when combined, they will have a tremendous impact on your first Mother’s Day as a stepmom.
P.S. It’s not too late to grab one of these thoughtful gifts for stepmoms!