Hey stepmama! In case you didn’t know, Mother’s Day is just around the corner!
Who am I kidding?? Of course you knew. If you are anything like me you have been thinking about this day for at least a couple weeks now. (Or let’s be honest, the better part of a month…) It brings forth sooo many emotions. So many worries. So many questions. So much anxiety. The ultimate question, do I even qualify to participate in said “Mother’s” Day? Since I’m not a “real” mom do I count? Even if I consider myself a mom do my stepkids/SO?
(Warning : This may trigger some stepmoms out there, and that is not my intention. I am not saying that what works for my family is necessarily right for everyone. I am simply trying to share my story, for those who can relate, to know they are not alone. If your story or title is different than mine, that is okay! Your family is different, your dynamic is different, and so, you do you stepmama! Even if our views are a little different, I am still cheering you on, stepmama!)
So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about being “mom.”
So there is obviously a difference between the occasional “mom” slip and full blown intentionally and repeatedly calling someone “mom.” I mean kids accidentally call a lot of female role models in their life mom. I can remember a few time when I accidentally called a teacher mom. Hey, it happens. Whenever the kids accidentally slip and call me mom, I don’t sweat it. I just act like I didn’t hear them and continue on with my day. But if they are intentionally calling me mom, that is a whole different ball game.
Okay, so let’s put things into perspective for a sec. I’ve been with these kids since they were 20 months and 3.5 years old. That was 4 years ago. In that time we have grown really close and built a very strong relationship. Due to the physical distance between us and their other house, our parenting schedule is where we only get the kids during breaks. This means for these extended periods of time, I am the main motherly figure they see on a daily basis. This can be confusing for the little ones. I mean, seriously confusing.
My situation was the for a little while (seriously like not even a week) Farrah called me “Jekka Mommy”. Now to me this brought up a whole buttload of feelings. The biggest feeling was happiness. It filled me with so much joy to know that this precious little human thought so much of me to call me mommy. It showed me that I meant just as much in her heart and she does in mine. My heart swelled with pride. I was doing something right. I must have reached the top of the stepmom food chain by gaining this title. I mean, I worked for it. I did all the things a mom should do. I love them, I feed them, I clothe them, I cuddle them, I teach them, and I do everything a motherly figure should. Why should I be anything but ecstatic to finally be addressed by the title I did all the work for but never attained?
But the second feeling was unnerving. I felt soooo uneasy, and I felt kind of like I had overstepped some invisible line. I mean I hadn’t done anything. I didn’t ask Farrah to call me “mom,” she did that on her own. I mean it wasn’t even straight up “mom,” it was a nickname with the word “mommy” attached. I hadn’t broken any rules, but I felt like I was in the wrong. I knew the issue had to be addressed, but I wasn’t quite sure how. I didn’t know what to say to her. The absolute last thing I wanted was for her to feel like I didn’t want to be a mommy to her. I wanted that more than anything. Actually I still want her to think of me as another mommy in her life. It would break my heart if she thought I didn’t want her. But I didn’t think it was appropriate for her to continue calling me “Jekka Mommy.”
There are a few reasons why this title made me uncomfortable.
- My stepkids already have a Mom.
Obviously, Noah and Farrah already have a mom in their lives. A woman that actually gave birth to them. A woman that has literally been with them since before day one, and she gets dibs on that title.
2. Out of respect for their mom.
In tough co-parenting/blended family situations I like to mentally put myself in their mom’s shoes. I don’t have any biological children of my own, but I can only imagine how incredibly hard it would be to have your kids calling another woman “mom.” (or any version of it.) I wouldn’t want that. It could also lead to major confrontation. Even if she were okay with it, I would hate to set the stonework for a possible fall out later on.
3.I don’t want to confuse the kids.
Young children are easily impressionable. At not even 2 years old, I would hate to be a cause of confusion for my little Farrah bear. The separation must have been confusing enough for our two little ones, and allowing them to call me “mom” in the midst of it would have only added to the confusion.
4. Out of respect for my SO.
During co-parenting/blended family situations I also like to put myself in Dan’s shoes. I know how it would hurt him to hear his son or daughter call another man “dad” or “daddy.” I mean, it would break my heart hearing it! So I wouldn’t want to eventually enable that.
5. I am comfortable in my role.
Ultimately I know that my spot in my blended family is solid. I am comfortable in my role as stepmom to my two precious littles. They know that I love them with my whole heart, and I know that they love me right back! Not being called “mom” doesn’t change that.
How I handled it…
In hindsight I wish that we had come up with a battle plan for this potential scenario. I wish that Dan and I would have sat down and talked about what we would say if one or both of the kids started calling me mom. I really wish that we would have gotten their mom’s input before the situation rather than after. But hey, hindsight’s 20×20.
Instead, I decided to talk to Farrah about it the next time she called me “Jekka Mommy.” I told her that although I love her like a mommy – with my whole heart – that she already has a mommy. I am her Jekka. That doesn’t mean I don’t love her as much, but it is just different. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s the best thing ever!
Even though it made me feel on top of the world to hear this little girl call me “Jekka Mommy,” I knew it was overstepping boundaries. I knew that although our bond is unreal and our love is so strong – she already has a mommy. It doesn’t matter what she calls me. Our love is not defined by titles.
This may sound so contradictory. If you have read any of my posts then you know that I am ALL ABOUT embracing the “mom” part of being a stepmom. You know that I encourage all stepmoms not to be afraid to love your littles with everything you’ve got. You know that I have told you that it’s okay to wear the “Mama Bear” shirts. And this is all true. I do believe that a stepmom is a mom. I just don’t think that your stepkids have to call you “mom” for all of this to be true. It doesn’t have to be contradictory. You can have both. You can be “Jekka” and still have a #momlifesticker. It’s okay! Embrace it!
(Sidenote : I just want to clarify again that if being called some version of “mom” by your stepkids works in your house, then good for you! If everyone is okay with it and it works for your blended family then I am so happy for you! I am not trying to say that everyone has to be like or think like me.)
So stepmama, don’t put all your worth in your title. Your babes love you regardless of what they call you. Hang in there, and do what is best for your family.
Love your family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.
xo – jessicanicole.