I am writing this blog because I believe that it’s time to tell the truth. The ugly truths that no one wants to talk about when it comes to today’s blended families. I offer these experiences in the hopes of contributing a dose of truth and controversy to one of the fastest growing segments of our society – the blended family. Whether their love begins in the womb or the heart, parents and children should be allowed to love one another freely, fully, and without remorse.
As much as my daughter’s biological mother wishes that I wasn’t, I am a proud, active, and happy stepmom. Since just before my stepdaughter reached the age of 3, I have wiped away her tears, nursed her fevers, blown out birthday candles, and chased away both monsters and bad dreams in the middle of the night.
I have sat outside of parent-teacher conferences, countless doctor visits, and regularly waited for my daughter’s “bio-mom,” to arrive at her school in order to begrudgingly relinquish our daughter to my care for my husband’s parenting time because she’d rather die than voluntarily have me recognized as a parent or guardian authorized to pick our child up from school, even in cases of emergency.
I am the ugly truth that my husband’s ex-wife wishes never existed. I am the constant reminder of her failed marriage, and a forced sharing of the title that so many women hold sacred – “Mommy.” I am a stepmom, and I make no apologies for it. While most “bio-moms,” wish that we would simply, “Go away,” or, “know our place,” (which for them would likely be somewhere hidden in the shadows), the fact is that we cannot, we will not, nor do most of us want to.
Like biological mothers, we want to celebrate our children’s triumphs and be there to ease their pain. We want to acknowledge them publicly as a part of our family and hold our heads high proudly as they acknowledge us in return.
The reality of being a stepmother means that you have inherited a job distinct from any other. Unlike the role of a biological mother, you are not gifted the luxury of unconditional love that comes with giving birth to a child. As a stepmother, you must work hard to not only earn, but maintain, a place of affection in your child’s heart.
And far too often, you must accomplish this feat through gritted teeth, clenched fists, and eyes that blink away tears of anger, sadness, and/or frustration because, as a stepmother, you are often unsupported in your love for your child. Their biological mother doesn’t want you around, the legal system doesn’t acknowledge your presence, yet and still, here you are – loving and caring for a child that, unlike her biological mother, doesn’t remember a time when you didn’t exist.
Most often, these are not lessons that are taught to you before you meet a man, fall deeply in love, and settle into your rightful place, smack dab in the middle of a family already in progress. That would be too much like the beginning of the end of a childhood fairy tale. Instead, the world of a stepmom is often more like doing a crafty dance through a volatile minefield that you must carefully navigate your way through while dodging daggers, and spears of insecurity, jealousy, pettiness, and hostility at every turn.
I am a stepmom. I am proud. I am active. I am happy, and I make no apologies for it. I have a stepdaughter who loves me deeply, and a biological mother who doesn’t want me around. I am a stepmom, and these are my evil tales. I call them my T.O.T.E.S. – but not like the expensive, chic bags that most women love to carry around. Instead, they are the heavy, invisible bags full of nasty, dirty laundry that everyone knows exists, but are taught to never air.