The definition of Stepmother is “a woman that your father marries after his marriage to or relationship with your mother has ended.”
I’ve been “that woman,” aka Stepmother, for the past 13 years. Let me tell you, it can be one of the most challenging jobs there is. It is harder than motherhood in a lot of ways. A lot of little girls grow up saying I can’t wait to be a Mom. Nobody grows up saying, I can’t wait to be a Stepmom!
I was 21 when I met my husband. He mentioned that he had children on the night we met, and I thought, oh that’s nice, never thinking that we would make it past the first date. To make a long story short, we fell in love by the second date… can you say instant family?
What is Mother’s Day Like for a Stepmom?
Mother’s Day is a day that was created for Mothers, a day for a child to show their appreciation to the most important woman in their life. Which, btw does not apply to you, when your stepchildren already have a Mom who is very much a part of their lives.
What I always find odd is that as a Stepmom you are supposed to perform motherly duties, without getting “the credit.” You are supposed to treat the children like your own. You are supposed to provide financial support. Do homework, cook, clean and drive around. You are a teacher, a mentor, a parent and friend. In all honesty, you are not really a friend. I hate when people say that. Sometimes in fact, you are the enemy.
Read Jessica’s Letter to Stepmoms on Mother’s Day
As a Stepmom on Mother’s Day you may get a card, but you know that your husband probably picked it out and “made” the kids sign it. Which is still a nice gesture, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the same.
You don’t get the handmade crafts from school when they’re young, or breakfast in bed when they get older. Those things are done for the “real” mom. You don’t get taken out for Mother’s Day tea, or even a coffee.
You probably won’t even see the kids on that special Sunday, or get a phone call. Don’t even think about being mentioned on their Facebook status.
Mother’s Day used to bother me a lot more before I had a child of “my own.” I’m putting it in quotes to let you know, that I know how ridiculous that sounds. Nobody owns anyone, even if you did birth them. I guess when you’ve heard, “why don’t you just have your own kids” for long enough, you start to buy into the madness.
Related: 45 Quotes about Moms on Mother’s Day
His, hers, yours, mine and ours. Once you become a blended family, everyone comes with a label. For the past few years now, since I had my daughter, I do get the all of the Mother’s Day accolades. I get taken out to brunch. I get to spend the day being treated like a queen, by one very special little girl. It’s almost enough to make me forget about those other feelings, and my 3 Stepchildren. Almost.
Over the last 13 years I have learned to do the only thing I can. I just accept the situation for what it is. Kind of awkward for everyone involved, especially the children. Even in the best of blended families.
I try and put the kid’s feelings first, instead of my own. Most days I do pretty well. The reality of being a Stepmother is that usually the kids already have a Mom. They don’t want or need another one. What child would?
The only reason that they have a Stepmom is because their dad and mom are no longer together, something that they had no control over. When it comes to families, all that most children really want is for their parents to be happy and still together. Celebrating Mother’s day, Father’s day, and every other holiday altogether as a family. One family, under one roof.
I’ve been living in a blended family for most of my life, since I was 18 months, but it still can be difficult, on this holiday and every other one. From growing up as a Stepdaughter to becoming a Stepmother, neither one of these roles are easy, but they are both a part of who I am.
Jessica New Fuselier writes about being a LA Mom, Stepmom and Photographer at Fresh Angeles.
Sunday 14th of May 2023
My husband and I found each other after we'd both divorced. He had children. I didn't. Three years after we married, his ex-wife died of pancreatic cancer, leaving three grieving youngsters (ages 17, 14, and 11), already saddened about the dissolution of the family, now reeling after the untimely death of their mother.
We'd been considering having children, but I made the decision that if their father and I had a baby, this would only intensify the grief, and possibly complicate things further for them. Instead, I stepped up and put the children's needs ahead of my own, and kept my focus on helping, healing, and ensuring that they had what they needed to grow into successful adulthood.
I never made any attempt to replace their mother. What I did do was position myself as a loving, caring woman who never judged them for their feelings, and who they could count on for unconditional support.
They still celebrate Mother's Day in honor of their biological mother (which I actually encourage). The way I see it, after 40 years, every other day of the year, days in which they are happy, productive, kind, and caring, they are celebrating the time they spent with me. I get calls and cards all year (they settled in other states), we get visits to them and from them, they celebrate my birthday, and all three are in regular touch with me.
I couldn't possibly have hoped for more, or better, children than those three.
Sunday 14th of May 2023
Wow - what a great story, Marsha. Thank you for sharing it with us. Happy Mothers Day!
Thursday 27th of April 2017
Children have one mother. If that mother is not present in their lives due to choice or death, I could understand, if it were okay with the child to view you as a 'mother' and celebrate you on mothers day. I think that stepmothers that step up to the plate with good intentions and true affection for the child should choose a day that could be special (a stepparent/stepchild day) where the relationship is celebrated but it should not be on mothers day because that is disrespectful to the child's biological mother and could confuse the child. I also feel that way about stepfathers. I also feel that a child should not be encouraged to call a stepparent mom or dad when their mom or dad is active in their lives. Afterall, you want to be viewed as an asset in their lives, not a substitute or replacement or threat, right? Could you imagine if your child went to their Aunts or Grandmother's house regularly and developed a fond relationship with her and she fulfilled many of the motherly roles when she were with them and she felt slighted because she wasn't receiving mothers day cards or called mom? I can understand a day of appreciation. Moms and Stepmoms should value each others roles, develop a bond by both wanting what is in the best interest of the child but should also respect each other's roles and maintain boundaries that encourage those relationships to grow. No child should ever feel guilty for recognizing he has one mother and one father and no step parent should ever try to take the place of the biological parent, unless that role has been surrendered and the child desires that type of relationship with you. If my stepchild called me mom and his/her mom was present, I would explain how much I loved him/her but that she/he has only one mom and that possibly we could think of a special way they refer to me. I would do the same if they sent me a mother's day card because you are risking that mother being upset with the child for your desire for recognition! Just my opinion.
Tuesday 3rd of May 2016
This article was so well-written. I have been a step-mother for 3 years. My husband has 2 adult children from his first marriage. The "kids" are married with their own families. I have a 14 year old son from a previous relationship (his bio-dad is not in the picture). My husband and son have a very close relationship and there is never an awkwardness on Father's Day, birthdays or any holiday. The relationship with my adult step-kids is "cordial". They don't acknowledge my birthday so I would never expect even a Facebook shout-out on Mother's Day. But I make sure to get them cards, gifts and acknowledge their (and their spouses) birthdays, holidays, etc.
Having my own child, I know that being a mother can be a thankless job at times but the "cold shoulder" from my stepkids has it made it that much harder.
Sunday 13th of May 2018
This comment could have been written by me! I, too, am just ignored as if I don’t exist. My husband and his ex-wife had been divorced long before I met and married him (and I was a widow), but I can’t help but feel that my step daughter thinks I am the reason her mother and father will never get back together. My step daughter did a big Facebook post today on Mother’s Day for her own mother for Mother’s Day, which is perfectly fine and expected. However, she then did a second post and tagged about a dozen different women in it and I was not one of them. She has never acknowledged my birthday or even bought so much as a Christmas card for me (or her dad) but has never had a problem accepting any of the gifts, cards or cash that we have presented to her. And make no mistake: every gift, card or check that comes from our household is something that I do. My husband leaves that responsibility to me to shop for and select gifts, yet he is always the one who receives the credit from her. Come to think of it, she only actually calls her dad when she wants something, such as our help paying for an upcoming cruise that she is planning for her 22nd birthday. Sorry that you, too, are getting the cold shoulder :(
Sunday 1st of November 2015
I too am a stepmother to two beautiful little princesses that I love very much. I do have my own daughter too thank god for blessing me with her. all of our girls (total 3) are 1 year apart from one another. The girls love each other and refer to each other as sisters. the girls love me and even wanted to call me mom at a point but I corrected them because I do not think it is appropriate knowing that their mom is very much active in their lives. first name basis is okay with me and when they get older if they choose to call me something else that is fine. anyways one day one of the daughter told me right in front of her mom that she wanted to call me mom too, next time they come to visit my stepdaughter proceeded to tell me that she has two daddies and one mommy. I could not believe their mom would tell them to say that. she makes the girls call her BOYFRIEND daddy which is extremely disrespectful to their fathers as he is in their lives and supports them financially enough so she does not even work. she continuously tell the girls to say that I am a mean person, because she does not like the fact that the girls like me the way they do. she even told me I was irrelevant to them. I simply told her "when the girls are old enough to judge me on their own I will believe that until than I am very much relevant to them and I will continue to love and do for them all I have been doing". She hates that she did not get the answer she wanted from me. She tries on a regular basis to take us to court, saying I am abusing the girls, I have taken their father away from them, I am a horrible person ect... sometimes I wonder what the heck did I get myself into and if I didn't not have a child of my own I would be miserable. she uses the girls against us. if she is mad at us she refuse to let the girls come over and cancel their visitation with their dad as she refers to her boyfriend as daddy for the girls and promote his relationship with the girls as she alienate their father, but all that is my fault. she even told me that they were doing great before I came in the picture, which I find hard to believed because they were already separated and she left him for her current boyfriend and was already dragging him to court and doing whatever she can to get every dime she can. she hates that I am not stupid and wont let her walk all over him, I have a degree, own my own house, have my own cars, secured job. while she lays at home playing SAHM at beach every day and constantly coming up with ways to mess with ours. he is a sweetheart and she wants to control our household and that does not bode well with me. She is also very bipolar she cusses me out and for mothers day she has the girls bring me flowers and card, balloon ??? I am confused and do no trust her. then she turns around the next month and tell me that I am irrelevant to them ect...! I take care of the kids when they come over. stay up with the 4 year old who still sleep like a newborn, ensure that the girls have double everything, birthdays, Christmas, Halloweens, easters, clothing, own room, entertainment, love ect... I work fulltime to support the kids when they are here and my child because of all the money he makes goes to her because she is "not working". the thing is she does work (at home) but under the table and is stupid enough to have a website and full of proof for me that she doesn't know we know about. last year she lied took kids out of day care for 1 year and had us picking them up from her boyfriend house while we were paying her for daycare that they were not even going to. we took her to court and she enrolled them back in daycare. 2 months later she took them out again. we went to court again and this time she said she was working but only making $200 a month but needed the girls to still go to daycare. they told her that was not going to happen since she basically was not working. we found out about her online selling's but this time we decided to let it go so we are not constantly in the court with her. Her poor boyfriend has no kids of his own and so she does not know how the shoes feel on the other foot. It is never the kids fault for the feelings they have toward stepmom its the jealousy of the biomom of fathers new wife ands good relationship with the kids. keep being a good mom to those kids and they will see truth when they are older. I know I went left field but I am just happy to have somewhere to vent :)
Sunday 10th of May 2015
My husband has full custody of his son. Birth mom lives 6 hours away, she moved 3.5 years ago from living in the same town with her son and custody every other week! Now it's every other weekend! I've been step mom now for 5 years. although I fill the role of "mom duties", do all the unappreciated household tasks, I'm the parental figure, check his grades, remind him of things, couldn't love him more if I would have actually birthed him. I hear him if he cries, I clean his room when he can't find that special toy, pick his favorite snacks for the week, sit on the edge of the bed when he has a story to tell and it's an hour past bedtime! I helped him wrap his mothers gift, put it all in a box and hugged him on the way out the door Friday night. Then when we picked him up today, I listened to his stories of how it was "mothers weekend" so she opened gifts yesterday. I cried silently because of how much I was reminded that I'm not a mom, but I am blessed to know that without her, I wouldn't have him! to know I'm shaping the life of this one boy to appreciate his mother, that's worth it to me! Now, my husband, he is the one who should have recognized in some way the things I do for his boy and him. He's the one I told today that my heart broke and he should appreciate me just a bit more! Step moms, it's never going to be about us, but we can always take the high road and teach the step kids lessons in kindness & understanding!