As a stepmom, there are plenty of other words I’ve been called that ARE, in fact, bad words.
But “Stepmom” is not one of them…
I’ve come to embrace and be proud of the word that most see as the family-equivalent of ‘evil witch’.
I’m not blind. I understand that there are people in this world who embody the evil stepmom stereotype.
I even know one or two of them.
But in our family, stepmom means friend. And supporter. And food cooker. Homework helper, sideline cheerer, and movie-picker-outer. A person they can talk to about their crush. Or cry to when they wish they could spend Christmas with BOTH their parents. A person who will listen to every story, watch them play Minecraft, and sing silly songs with them.
Stepmom means medicine for rashes and coughs. Comfort when they’ve fought with a friend. Coach for a volleyball team and driver to soccer practice. Reminder to brush their teeth and chew with their mouth closed. The washer of All. The. Laundry.
I have a running joke with my husband that I got my Cinderella story, I’m just playing a different character than I thought I would.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good
It’s not always picture-perfect. Reminders are everywhere that Stepmoms = bad news.
Before I started this blog I posted this on Facebook.
This little girl had seen the movies. She knew that Cinderella’s stepmom was evil. As was Snow White’s.
When I wrote this I was new to the stepmom gig. 5 months in, to be exact. I didn’t really know anything!
How do you argue with a 1st grader when they tell you stepmoms are bad?
Most people’s entire experience is seeing them in movies and hearing stories from “real moms” about the terrible infractions committed against them by their children’s stepmoms.
The answer is, you don’t argue.
You understand that not everyone is going to be supportive. Your stepkid(s)’ mom may or may not ever like you.
And that’s okay. You can continue to be the best stepparent you can be. Your spouse can support you and help define your role. Even if you don’t love your stepchildren, you can like them and treat them with respect as members of your family and your spouse’s reason for living.
But the most amazing feeling of relief comes when you realize that everything else doesn’t matter.
My stepkids don’t think I’m evil (most of the time).
My husband doesn’t think that and neither do my parents or in-laws. The school teachers and coaches don’t.
Even the therapists and doctors don’t.
So who cares if everyone else does? Even if all I had was my small circle of family and friends, that’s enough for me.
I do not need to be universally liked to be a confident stepmom. And if I introduce myself and stepmom, I don’t care if that person assumes bad about me.
“Step” has been weaponized
The problem is that stepmom has been weaponized by society. Specifically, by some birth moms who use it to mean: less than, not good enough, or evil bitch.
Again, just for emphasis, sometimes stepmoms are the problem. They have earned the ‘cuss word’ by their behavior.
But there is a world of stepmoms out there who ‘feel the stab’, so to speak, every time someone uses the word as an insult.
“Oh, you’re just the stepmom.”
“Stepmoms need to butt out.”
…or my personal favorite, “Kids don’t really love stepmoms. They’re just afraid of them.”
**Disclaimer, I haven’t heard all of these from my stepkids’ mother.
But I used to feel them to my soul every time I heard them. That is, until I realized it doesn’t have anything to do with the way I see myself or my role in our family.
I can defend myself to anyone in this world but I don’t need to. All three of my stepkids tell me, “I love you” every night when we tuck them in and that means more than any insult.
Stepmom’s mistakes aren’t so easily forgiven
I know I have stepped over a line in my time as a stepmom. It’s a learn-on-the-job type experience and I have made mistakes.
Every stepmom who has ever stepmommed has made mistakes.
As has every birth mom.
The difference is, we aren’t given the benefit of the doubt.
Not every misstep is intentional. And not all boundaries are clearly defined enough to avoid.
Some boundaries aren’t healthy and it’s important to cross them to form a family that can succeed.
But in the end, us stepmoms need to give ourselves grace where we aren’t going to receive it elsewhere. When we can view our role through the eyes of grace, we can stop feeling personally victimized by it.
That grace allows us to embrace being “stepmom.” An imperfect human who the world may dislike but who can like themself regardless of that.
Stepmoms are not “The Mom” – and that’s the point
My relationship with my stepkids speaks for itself and its one I’m proud of.
I am their stepmom and I have earned it. I don’t need or want to be their mom. As a matter of fact, I get to have a different relationship with them than either of their parents.
I get to let Dad and Mom handle the less pleasant things like doctors and therapists.
They share a lot about their relationship with their parents with me because I am less partial. I am someone who they talk to about the difficulties of their parents being divorced.
As we enter the terrifying teenage years, I can be a confidant who they are less afraid of disappointing.
Yes, it is HARD being a stepmom. And yes, I am disliked for it.
I have felt the discomfort of, “What should I introduce them as?” Or, “Should I correct that person…I’m not really their mom.”
(Ps…I introduce them as my stepkids and do not correct random people who make passing comments about ‘my kids’.)
But I do not cringe at the word stepmom anymore. The kids see this and they are also comfortable calling me their stepmom now. I can say they are MY stepkids without feeling like I’m stomping on their mother’s toes.
So instead of seeing yourself as “just the stepmom,” see yourself as “an awesome stepmom” who has made the difficult choice to help raise someone’s child(ren).
Repeat that enough to yourself and you will eventually believe it.
Wear your stepmom flag loud and proud. I sure do and I’ve never been happier or more free.
Don’t forget it. Pin it!
Related to Stepmoms
- Am I Ready To Be A Stepmom? Take the Quiz To Find Out!
- Stepmom’s Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- How To Be A Happier Stepmom Using Gratitude
- 55 Awesome Questions For Step Kids (Under 12 y/o)