Step-Parenting

#momlife vs #stepmomlife : Fighting the Stigma of Blended Family Life

The other day Dan and I were in line at Sonic (whattup happy hour large diet green tea!) when he said something that totally threw me off… The car in front of us had a “#momlife” sticker on the back window, and Dan goes “I should get you one of those stickers!”

First of all, I’m not really the car-sticker type of gal, but that’s beside the point.

I was soooo taken back.

I looked at him and back at the sticker. Back at him and back at the sticker. Then I started crying. I could not understand why he would say this to me…

It hurt so bad.

Was he mocking me? Did he not think my position as a stepmom was important and vital to our family? Did he think it was funny to downplay and be sarcastic about my role as a stepmom? I was heartbroken. Crying big ole Nicholas Sparks inspired tears in the Sonic Drive-thru.

Maybe I got so emotional because it’s been awhile since we’ve seen the kids. Maybe it was because I’ve been a little stressed lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been seeing so many ads for the absolute cutest kids clothes. (remember, I told you I’m a sucker for clothes!) Whatever the reason, this silly little sticker hit me hard.

All I could think about was how much I wanted the “#momlife” sticker, but I didn’t deserve it. (okay maybe not the sticker exactly, but what it represented.)

I wanted to be a part of the real mom club.

I wanted the “Mama Bear” shirts.

I wanted the Mommy & Me matching outfits.

I wanted to be able to share the “mom moment” statuses on facebook.

I wanted all of it, but I’m not a real mom. I can’t have those things. I’m not in the club. What would people say? I haven’t given birth. I don’t have any biological children of my own.  I can do the work of a mom and love like a mom with none of the titles or prestige. In that moment, all I could do was feel sorry for myself for everything I was missing out on by being “only a stepmom.” I mean, there is no “#stepmomlife” sticker. Even if there were such a sticker can you imagine the negative connotations it would be associated with?? No-one brags about being a stepmom. There is no glory or positivity that comes with the title of stepmom. Only notoriety from evil stepmoms in movies. So I think I’ll pass on the “#stepmomlife” sticker.

No thanks!

I hate that it is this way. I hate that society has put such a stigma on blended family life. I absolutely hate that it is so encouraged to be proud of your family and your role until it comes to blended families. There are stickers, shirts, cups, keychains, and even national holidays celebrating “nuclear” families, but NOTHING celebrating blended families. It is so taboo. Which is absolutely nuts because blended families are so common! (over 50 % of families in the US are blended!) Yet stepparents are still evil, stepkids are still brats, and blended families are still surrounded by negativity. This is so unfair. It is not only unfair to those of us that LOVE our blended families, but it is unfair to the children growing up in blended families. They are being fed this bs that there is something wrong with their family dynamic, that they need to hate their stepparents, and that they must be filled with angst due to all of it. Kids need to be encouraged to think positively of their blended families. They need to be reminded of how many extra people get to love them now, how they get exposed to even more awesome experiences, and yes, now they get two Christmas’s. So let’s spread the blended family love and stop the stigma surrounding the word “step”.

Anway, I digress.

Let’s get back to me crying in the Sonic drive-thru… lol

My poor sweet Dan was so thrown by my response.

My sudden waterworks was not what he was expecting from his seemingly innocent comment. He immediately backtracked and began spewing apologies. I told him how I didn’t appreciate him treating me like a joke, and he just stared. He hadn’t meant it as a joke. This sweet man of mine, in all his glory, had meant it wholeheartedly.

He explained to me that he was sincere when he said he wanted to get me that sticker for my car. He thinks I deserve a “#momlife” sticker. He went on to tell me how deserving I am of a “#momlife” sticker, and let me tell you, I think I fell even more in love with him in that moment. <3

I’m not sure how much was truth and how much he was trying to console me, but either way it was exactly what I needed to hear. He told me I deserved that sticker because even if I’m not their biological mom, I am a mom to those two babes. He said that he knows how much I love them, and that he knows I try so hard to be the best stepmom I can be. He mentioned how I read books and research everything from toys to discipline structures, how I make their favorite foods but make sure they try new foods too, how I read bedtime stories and teach life lessons, how I helped potty train, and how I continually put in the work. He told me that I deserve that “#momlife” sticker just as much as anyone else does.

And let me tell you in that moment I knew he saw me. He saw the work I was putting in. He saw how much heart I put into those kids and this family. He saw everything I thought was invisible. It felt so amazing to hear the validation. It was just what I needed but never expected.

My sweet Farrah rocking her new glasses!
The photo quality may be a little shaky, but that’s just because he’s new to the whole selfie game. lol

So stepmama, if you are in need of a little validation today. If you are needing your own personal cheerleader to remind you that you are rocking this stepmom gig. Then let me tell you, you are doing amazing sweetie! (cue mean girls reference) But in all seriousness, don’t get down on yourself. I know all too well how easy it is to get yourself stuck in this rut of feeling unappreciated and unseen. It is so easy to work so hard to do everything that needs to be done to keep your family running like clockwork only to get burnt out by not receiving any acknowledgement. Even if no-one is telling you, you are appreciated and you are not invisible. You deserve a “#momlife” sticker. You deserve the “Mama Bear” shirt. And you deserve to rock those matching Mommy & Me outfits! You may not have given birth to your stepbabes, but when you became a part of a blended family they became your stepchildren to love and help raise.

Love your family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.

2 Comments

  • Summer Hawkins

    Way to go Jessica, being a step mom is SO hard. But you deserve that sticker just as much if not more. You have CHOSEN to love those kiddos you make that choice every day. Heck some bio moms cant even be the mom their kids need we see that all the time. You just keep doing you I love reading your blogs I totally get it:) <3

    • jessicanicole

      Aww, thank you so much!! 🙂 I love the phrase that stepmoms “choose” to love their kids! But being any type of mom can be tough. We just need to support each other instead of belittling each other! Thanks for reading!! <3

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