With Mother's Day rapidly approaching (in t-minus three days to be exact) the step mother blues about it have consumed my social media; which has really gotten under my skin actually. Please know that what I am about to assert on this topic comes from my life experiences as a child of divorce, a step child (both since the age of one), a now-step-mother myself and a bio mom. Because of all the paces I've ran enduring Mother's Day on all paths in over my lifetime, I feel compelled to express my thoughts on this subject.
Step Mother's having a hard time during said Hallmark Holiday can be reasonably understood. We all get it. Step Mom's do all the things, have all the responsibilities handed to them with none of the power or say so. They are expected to step up and swallow sand like water, and yet aren't allow to expect a big show of appreciation on a day that honors all the same work and care they do and show as the actual bio mom. Step Mom's are seen as silent partners. Their hurt feelings are valid. In truth, I think that it gets twisted that the inclusion of a Step Mom on this holiday is at the expense of the Bio Mom, and that's were the battle of wills begins and ends between both sides.
I have some things to say to the Step Mom's and their spouses to help push both to get through this holiday as un-hurt and un-offended as possible:
1. Know, understand and accept your place. You are NOT the Mom. Sorry. It's just the truth, maybe a hard truth, but still the truth. When you entered into your blended family and married someone with kids, you knew this. Try not to take everything that underlines this fact so personally, because it's not about you. Kids have Moms, that's life, and sometimes it's okay for things to be about them and their relationship, and not about you or your place in the family. You have a Mom, you have a relationship with your Mom, and you wouldn't be okay with anyone making you feel bad about that, or be okay with anyone taking away from it. Kids young and old need to feel free to love their parents and celebrate them if they choose to do so. Embrace your bonus status and let your worth come from a much deeper and more important place than a title or a holiday. You need to be okay with the kids wanting and celebrating their actual Mom. Let the kids have it. Let them be. And when the day comes that they include you on their own (maybe when they grow up) on Mother's Day, it will mean so much more than a forced focus on you, the Step Mom, one day a year... You are more than just one day a year.
2. Spouses need to step up. Hopefully you married someone who is interested and in-tune in/to you. If you, as a Step Mom, are struggling with this holiday, chances are your spouse is aware. If your spouse is clueless, may I suggest you speak your truth and let them in on your struggle (in a loving way, not from a place of attack). If you married a good man, he will not want to see you in pain and will do what he can to comfort you. Allow your spouse to distract you on Mother's Day by showing you how much HE appreciates all you do for his kids. (Spouses take note now that you need to step up for your woman and make her feel like gold, especially if and when she feels undervalued.) Let this day be a day that he celebrates YOU because it takes a special sort of woman to take on someone else's kids, and your spouse should be nothing short than of full of gratitude that you show up and treat them well. Have a fantastic and romantic date day/night. Feel loved and appreciated by him. I always say that step parents first and foremost are a support to the bio parent, and therefore it would stand to reason that the bio parent should celebrate your support. While you are a Step Mom to the kids, you are more so a Step Mom for your husband’s world. Remember that (husband's receive that and behave accordingly).
3. Have your day! Celebrate being a Step Mom! There's a Step Mother's Day that is traditionally the Sunday following Mother's Day. If you feel deserving of being honored, then go ahead and plan something; have a day all to yourself that you don’t have to share with anyone else. There's nothing wrong with that! You do a lot, you care a lot, you endure a lot and to say that isn't deserving of something would be remiss. Instead of sharing a day with the bio mom have a day all to yourself; you're worth it after all! How awesome for the kids too, to be able to not have to worry about their attention and affections being split on a day, for them to not worry about feeling guilty in having to do so, but to be able to give themselves fully to both women on two separate occasions. This option, is a win, win, win for everyone.
Step Mom's, let go. Let go of the hurt. Let go of the disappointment. Let go of the expectation. Choose to embrace the life you are living and stop chasing an idealistic one that is impossible to grasp. Re-frame your point of view and rework your attitude. Be better than some holiday that was created to celebrate that which you are simply not. With your spouse, create your own ways, your own celebrations and your own traditions. Blended families do not fit into a neat little box as religious and societal institutions would have you believe, so don't try to put yourself in one, especially over one day.
Peace and Love,