A few days ago, I read a “testimony” from a stepmom somewhere on the internet (This sea is vast, you guys. I can’t hop ship from Twitter to blog to archived posts to other blog and expect to keep up.) that made me kind of sad. A lot of stepmom stories make me sad and it’s usually for three reasons:
- They have no idea how important they are and try to brush off their role in their stepchildren’s lives like it’s no big deal. (Hey, it is. You’re a big deal, okay?)
- They have to deal with a lot of drama, a lot of anger, resentment and insecurities that make it hard to enjoy this incredible role they’re living.
- They, I’m sorry to say, are the drama and have a hard time remembering that their stepchildren’s mother is always going to be in their lives. End of story.
But on this particular story, Reason Number One was making my heart hurt for my fellow stepmom. She wrote that she loved her stepchildren very much, that they all had an incredible bond and that she got along well with their mom. She said it was the most fulfilling role in her life, but it was also the toughest because of one simple issue: I’m not a parent, she wrote. I can love them with all that I have, but I’ll never go to one of their school’s open houses. That’s not my place.
And here’s where I have to say: I respectfully disagree.
Because you are a parent. We all are parents. We are helping our husbands raise children. We are teaching our kids good manners and how to swim without floaties or how to ride a bike without training wheels. We are kissing boo-boos, cuddling after nightmares, and whispering “Everything’s going to be okay.” We are scrambling eggs, packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and buying industrial sized cartons of Goldfish crackers. We are parents.
And I feel like I always have to preface my declarations with the following: I got really, really lucky in the co-parenting department. My husband, my stepchildren’s mother and stepfather and I get along incredibly well. We are all in this because of those kids. We work at making everything run smoothly because of the kids.
So because of my situation, I feel like a school’s open house is a stepmother’s place! Yesterday, I went with my stepson and his mom to meet his preschool teacher. And, trust me, no matter how good the situation is between you and your stepchild’s mom, it is a little awkward when you’re in a classroom surrounded by people who are wondering who I am. (Especially in a small town where my husband and his children’s mother have lived their entire lives and everybody knows them.) I feel like everyone is staring, everyone is thinking Why did she come? Did she have to be here? This isn’t her place!
But it is my place. Because every other Friday, I have to take my stepchildren to school. I need to know their teachers and I need to know where their classes are. I need to stick my hand out and say “Hi, I’m Samantha. I’m Trey’s stepmom.” I need the adults in my stepchildren’s lives to know who I am and why I’m there. I’m a parent.
When I left the open house, I called my husband and told him how it went. “I know their mom doesn’t mind I’m there and I know she appreciates me, but I feel like everyone else thinks I’m out of my boundaries,” I told him. “I feel like they think I’m trying to step in her shoes or something. I’m not trying to be his mom, I just need and want to know what’s going on in his life.”
“Babe, their mom doesn’t feel like you’re out of line so who cares what anyone else thinks?” He said.
And he’s right.
But we all know with this stepmom thing that what everyone else thinks can make a big difference in our securities. And we know it shouldn’t, but there it is in our Twitter feeds and our Facebook posts and our episodes of “Reba”. Society’s reaction to a stepmom being at her stepson’s open house is that she’s trying too hard, she
But we know different. You’re not trying to be his mom, you’re just trying to be a parent.
Do you attend your stepchildren’s open houses? Is their mom welcoming when you’re there or is it a fight for you to feel wanted?