As a disclaimer, I’m not sure if the words used were my stepdaughter’s in retelling the story or if they were her mom’s in the actual event, but my point remains the same.
This evening, my stepdaughter and I were discussing her upcoming school holiday party. I haven’t missed a school party in the 3 years I’ve been in her life, and I have no intentions of starting now.
I playfully argued with her that I was more excited about the party than she was, and our banter continued from there.
The conversation turned to her mom, and Krista told me she was disappointed Mommy couldn’t attend the party because she hadn’t gotten her background check cleared with the school (we found out less than a week before the party that we had to have a background check cleared before we could attend).
She started recounting how it would have played out.
Mommy would have to go to the front desk and say “No, really, I’m Krista’s Mommy, and I’m a good person so you can let me in.”
And I’d have to go up there and say “Yes, this is my Mommy and she’s a good person.”
And they’d say “But who was that person that already went to your classroom?” and then Mommy would have to say “I’m the real mom and she’s the stepmom.”
The. Real. Mom.
I’m a stepmom, and I’m a real person with real feelings.
I can assure you that every part of my role is real.
The love I feel for my stepdaughter is real.
In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, we were discussing love and I made the comment that I’d save her before I’d save myself. I’d take a bullet for her.
It brought Krista to tears. She said “That’s so nice!” and was overcome by how real my love for her truly is.
The parenting I do is real.
I don’t just tuck into bed or help with homework, but I also teach valuable lessons daily. I encourage her to give back, to learn to love reading, and to pursue her dreams.
I say goodnight prayers with her, help her write thank you notes for gifts she’s received, and I hold her tight when she’s hurt.
I parent through the good times and the bad, through the fun times and the difficult.
The sacrifice is real.
Every day, I wake up and choose this little girl, even though she could choose not to love me back.
I wake up early enough to give her extra snuggle time to make it an easier transition in the morning, even though I could really use that extra 10 minutes of sleep.
I forego desires of my own to ensure she makes it to dance class or softball practice instead. I watch Disney movies instead of This is Us.
The pain of rejection or snide comments is real.
When I’m told I’m not a real mother or I’m otherwise stepmom shamed, the pain is real. To have given my all to raise this child the best I can to only be told I’m not a real mom is hurtful, unjustified, and uncalled for.
This isn’t a message for my stepchild’s mom. This isn’t based on that single conversation. If you’ll recall, I’ve been told I’m not a real mom before. My passion for spreading the reality of stepparenting comes from repeated comments like this.
Every single part of my role as stepmom is real. I celebrate her wins, encourage her to dream big, and teach her perseverance. I set punishments, I give medicine when she’s sick, and I hold her when she’s sad.
I’m not a part-time parent. I’m not a temporary parent. I’m not a non-parent. I am a very real influence, and I am 100% real.
I didn’t give birth, but that proves just how real my love is. I didn’t have an automatic connection with my child holding her in my arms for the first time when she was born.
I didn’t have 9 months of connection when she was growing inside my body. Instead, I earned that connection by spending real time with her as a 4-year-old.
I read her stories, played with Legos and dinosaurs on the floor with her, and took her out to play and explore. I experienced life with her, and I worked to overcome her skepticism and her natural inclination to not like me out of protection for her mom.
I have developed a natural bond and a true maternal love for my little girl.
I’d take a bullet or a bus for her.
I am very much a real mom.
P.S. Stop stepmom shaming. Here are 30 things stepmoms would say if they could.
20 thoughts on “I’m a Stepmom, and I’m a Real Person with Real Feelings”
Thank you so much, Angela!
Thank you for the links on this article for great ideas on reading, birthday parties, and giving back. I want to try the busy book this summer with my SD too!
My daughter calls her dad’s wife her bonus mom. As a fellow bonus mom I know and understand the struggles so I am proud to say my daughter’s bonus mom is literally one of my best friends. It took work but I never diminished her role as a partner in raising my daughter.
That’s so sweet! So glad to hear you have a good relationship!
I literally have tears welling up in my eyes right now. Ugh. Finally there are words to exactly how I feel as a step mom. Thank you for sharing this!
❤️❤️❤️ You are NOT alone!
I stumbled my way to your site through Pinterest last night and I have to say this forum has brought me to tears many times in just the last few hours. I am happy to know that there are so many others going through similar things with their role as a stepmother. I had no idea what I was truly getting myself into but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Hi there! Facebook suggested I read your blog post, I’m new here ? You may appreciate this story. When my stepdaughter was in the second grade, one of her classmates asked me if I was her “real mom”. I surprised myself by quickly responding “I am her REAL stepmom!” I actually never had that thought before and it came so quickly. But it fit nicely. I know I am not her biogical mother but I am no less “real”. I had previously thought of myself as the stepmom but it is very affirming to instead think of myself as the REAL stepmom. Thank you for your encouraging words.
LOVE that story, Tina!!! Very real! I agree completely!
I became a step-mom 15 years ago and everything was great until she was punished for something that she did that I had to bring to her dad’s attention. At this point his family, his child and his ex-wife turned on me like I was a criminal. I was told that I was not her mother that she had a mother and I was only suppose to be her friend. I explained that when she was in my care she was my responsibility where I was informed that she was never my responsibility. At that moment the bond that she and I shared was forever broken, she had been turned to believe that I was the enemy. I was so hurt for many years as was my husband. There were never any apologies made to me or my husband which caused a huge separation within the family. Every time there was a family gathering his ex-wife was always invited and she always came, we finally stopped attending family gatherings.
That sounds so frustrating! Setting and enforcing boundaries in a stepfamily is so important and HEALTHY.
I have had my kids for 10 years now and I get so frustrated because of the “real mom” comment. I used to get so upset and hurt because I was seen as nothing more than a glorified babysitter even though their birth-mom hasn’t visited with them but a handful of time in the 10 years I have had them, and none at all in the past 4. I catch myself being reminded that I did not give birth to them maybe once or twice a year and it has the same impact of running through the house and hitting a sliding glass door when you thought it was open. It hurts. I feel like I am shattered and all the work I do with and for them is seen as having no value in these people’s eyes.
We have a very large family, 5 kids total–3 boys & 2 girls, so it is easy to get busy and forget that the girls aren’t my biological kids because I don’t feel or see them that way. They act like me. They think like me. They even look like me in subtle ways. My oldest son looks identical to my husband but they share no blood. Our kids are closer than any full blooded siblings that I know. They call each other brother and sister. We are a family. Our kids have tons of grandparents, extra parents, and more love than they know what to do with. I am momma and I wear that title proudly.
I just wish people knew how much it hurts when they try to tell me that I’m not REALLY my daughters’ mom. They are diminishing my role in their lives and the kids pick up on that and think maybe they should see me differently. I have to keep moving forward and no let the pain show to them because then they feel like they did something wrong and hurt me. So even though I am hurt, even though the pain makes me want to curl into a ball and cry, I have to act as if I don’t care what other people think and go along as if it was never heard. Since my kids are older this is harder to do because they have learned how to tell when a person lies or is hiding something from facial expressions or if you become red in the face or pale. They can see my heart in my eyes and it makes it really hard to keep them from feeling guilt. I want them to treat me how they see me from their heart, not out of fear of hurting my feeling or guilt. I want them to come to me for advice as they are finding their way in this world on how to handle relationship problems (even with their biological family). Outsiders make that difficult which is ridiculous because they don’t have a clue what our family life is like on a daily basis and only think of blood lines.
My children have been encouraging me for 4 years now to start fostering other kids. They tell me that I would be able to give them a home and love that they may need to turn their lives around and make a difference. Now that I only have 2 at home, both of which will be graduating in the next 2 years and moving out, I am really considering it. I will be the worst empty-nester ever to live after being so used to having between 2-12 kids at my home everyday for the past 10 years.
Sweet mama, you’re doing everything right. Tune out the naysayers and continue to give those kiddos a mama’s hug to come home too each night.
I have been a step mom for the last three years to two teenagers (1 daughter and 1 son). The kids live with their father and I on a full time basis. Their biological mother sees them when it is convenient for her and when she is leading a positive life style. She has drinking issue and depression. The kids and I get along very well for the most part until their mom goes through a rough spell and then I am treated like the devil.
That can be so frustrating! Take pride in the fact you know your place, and you don’t need the validation of others on if you’re “real” or not! You’ve got this, mama!
I can’t love this enough. I don’t refer to them as my stepchildren anymore because they are my children. I had a friend at work correct me awhile back. That asked me I kept them fed, provided, shelter, love, support, healthcare, and anything they need or want? Would you die to protect and keep them safe.? Will you go to any length and make any sacrifice for their happiness?
Of course I responded with of course without question. They looked at me and said then you are their mom. I am unable to have my own biological kids, but god put Jeff in my life and in turn brought 2 amazingly wonderful children, Alex and Alyssa, into my life. Each they tell me they love me, or tell me they couldn’t have done it without me, or thank you for just being present. My heart is beyond full. Being a parent is far from easy, but DNA is not what makes you a parent. It’s the life, love, and support you give.
I love that you have such a close bond with your partner’s kids! This is so sweet!! 🙂
You are a real stepmom and it’s a wonderful place to be! I’d like to point out that you are also a real wife, and I’d like to propose to society phasing out the phrase “second wife”.
When a person buys a “second home,” this implies they still have a regular home where they live most of the time, in addition to say, a beach house. Otherwise, they would say they “moved”.
When a person gets a “second job”, it implies they perhaps picked up a bartending shift on Saturday nights in addition to the 9-5 job they still have. Otherwise, they would say they got a “new job”.
You (and I) are neither beach homes nor bartending shifts; we are real wives, married to real husbands. “Second wife” implies there is another marriage that still carries importance. It feels like a phrase made to keep women from feeling empowered and I think it’s time to move on.
Today has been such a struggle for me as a stepmom. I needed to read this tonight more than ever. For the past 3 years I have been talked down to, called every name in the book, and have been told almost everyday I’m not part of his life and never will be by my step sons bio mom. I gained severe anxiety from it and I am trying to get through it. I love him like he is my own, without ever overstepping, yet I am always the bad guy. Today his bio mom had another one of her fits and I have tried all day to not burst into tears. While reading this I let all my emotions flow and I feel so much better. It is so heartwarming to know I’m not in this alone and there are other people who go through what I do.