I’ve known my stepchildren for over 7 years …7 YEARS! That’s more than half their lives, yet I get reminded of my lack of belonging continuously throughout the year. Stepmom’s deal with this purposeful separation and take it personally, even if we don’t show it. Mother’s Day is often the day that solidifies our dark feelings of unimportance in our blended family. It can be a firm reminder we don’t count. So, if we share in co-parenting, where do we fit in? Should we be honored on this day…without asking?
The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines a mother as:
- A woman who gives birth to a child.
- A woman whose egg unites with a sperm, producing an embryo.
- A woman who adopts a child.
- A woman who raises a child. Bingo!
So, dear partner, if your child lives in our home and we prepare their meals, drive them to activities, help with homework, attend doctor’s appointments, share life experiences, love them, etc. then we are raising these children to some extent and fit the definition of a mother. Sourly, at the end of the day we are commonly thought of as the woman that married you and we have no rights if our relationship were to dissolve. Please understand we are much more than that. We make a positive difference!
Here are some things stepmoms struggle with each Mother’s Day that we want to address:
- Why we feel like we have to lower our expectations on Mother’s Day.
- Why we get the feeling if you do celebrate with us it’s out of obligation and not always sincere.
- Why you need to understand that we really want to be recognized.
- Why it is important for us to assist our stepchildren in honoring their mother.
- How you can help us celebrate.
We lower our expectations on Mother’s Day
Just this week I got hit with a realization about how ‘invisible’ I am to my stepchildren. My stepdaughter who lives with us over 78% of the time got off the phone with her mother and told me they had discussed Mother’s Day and what they were going to do. Then, she asked me what my biological children were doing for me. She didn’t have a clue that maybe she should do something for me, so I have learned to expect nothing from my stepchildren. They just don’t get it! By setting my expectations to null, I shelter myself from the pain.
Stepmom’s understand that they aren’t the ‘real mothers’ of their stepchildren but we do contribute to their upbringing. Some of us provide a substantial positive change while others a moderate change. We shouldn’t have to lower our expectations due to not having a biological or legal connection.
You need to step up to the plate and be responsible to make sure your children recognize their stepmoms. We shouldn’t have to dread the upcoming Mother’s Day when the social media reminders start, knowing we probably won’t be acknowledged. Stepmom’s should expect to be recognized on Mother’s Day without feeling guilty or having to ask.
Don’t celebrate Mother’s Day out of obligation
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made. Back in 2014, the stepchildren and my husband took me out to lunch the week prior to Mother’s Day telling me this was my celebration where I was promised a Pandora bracelet. I was pretty stoked and looked forward to picking out a beautiful trinket loaded down with charms of my travels. I was deeply touched with my surprise celebration. What I got when we got home was…’we didn’t know what to get you and felt obligated as you mentioned Mother’s Day. We’ll get you the bracelet if you really expect it.’ I was extremely hurt. I didn’t realize they didn’t know how to celebrate Mother’s Day with me. We were a new blended family just finding our way and my husband didn’t know how to acknowledge me.
Therefore, if you don’t know what to do, either ask us or just buy us a card. Don’t fake a celebration that is full of insincerity. Stepmoms have feelings and get hurt deeply even though we often don’t verbally express it. We took on your family responsibilities oblivious to all the drama those actions would cause us. We keep our chins up most of the time and take stabs in the back on a regular basis. We deserve more than just Mother’s Day; we should get initiated into the Stepmother Hall of Fame for our strength, big hearts and unselfish love.
Deep down, we really want to be recognized
Recently, my stepson called my cell; it went to voicemail as I was in the middle of an appointment. He messaged he was going to call back but for me not to answer unless his dad was with me as he only wanted to talk with him. His voicemail made me feel unimportant and unrecognized.
As stepmoms we see this behavior and feel the results every day. Our stepchildren may not even understand they are exhibiting this behavior, as they are dealing with their own issues of a broken family.
It is a stepmoms responsibility to let you know when something hurts them so they can correct the situation, as you may probably not even know it.
It is so important to recognize what role we play in our blended family, how valuable we are as a stable female role model in the lives of your children and how worthy our opinions might be (if heard). When you allow your children to treat us disrespectfully or choose to ignore their behaviors entirely, you are setting a bad example and ultimately condoning their actions. Teach your children to respect us and correct their behaviors when noticed. What we yearn for is a bit of recognition as we do a lot for your children regardless of whether they (or you) notice it or not. Make sure we are recognized on Mother’s Day (even if we tell you it’s not a big deal) for the role we play in our blended family.
We don’t want to take the day away from their mother
As a stepmom, I don’t want to take Mother’s Day away from my stepchildren’s mother. I just want to feel like my contributions matter. One of our roles as a stepmom is to assist our stepchildren in honoring their mother on this important day.
Stepmoms can help their stepchildren with a card or picking out a small gift. But, understand it’s not appealing to make sure your ex is honored on Mother’s Day; however, by taking the road less traveled we are setting an example for our stepchildren that they hopefully won’t forget.
It is not our responsibility to make sure our stepchildren honor us on Mother’s Day. This is the responsibility of you as a father if the children are younger. If the children are older then we will earn this recognition over the years as we build a relationship with them. You may need to go through a few tough Mother’s Days for your blended family to get the hang of it.
How can you help us celebrate Mother’s Day?
Don’t wait for the day to come and go and then decide to celebrate after we are crying and complaining. Instead, plan ahead! Check the visitation schedule and set a date to help us celebrate our role. It doesn’t even have to be Mother’s Day as the children are usually with their mom’s that day. Put the date on our calendar ahead of time so we can set our expectations to match that date. Talk with your children prior to Mother’s Day and explain how it’s important they celebrate this day with both their mother and stepmom. Remember, it’s not about the gift or fancy dinner; it is about the sincere recognition that we matter. Stepmoms deserve a Mother’s Day!
Linda is a mom, stepmom, grandma, ex-wife and most importantly, a new wife residing in a coastal town in Oregon. She understands being a stepmom might be the most challenging role you’ve ever played. Linda enjoys sharing her stories of dealing with his ex, her step kids and new husband and loves to hear how they relate to your situations. Linda wants to encourage other stepmoms to never give up their new life role and to always look for the joy!