Last week I published an article here on HuffPost that was also shared on various parenting sites and blogs. If you haven't read it, you can do so here: "I Am a Wicked Stepmother." It's a short and positive piece about my stepdaughter and my experience as a stepmom. I was overwhelmed by the response this article received. I enjoyed reading the comments and emails from fellow stepparents. I loved seeing the photos shared and I especially loved the comments from stepchildren, thanking their stepmom or stepdad for a job well done.
Amidst the positive comments and emails, a stream of negativity started trickling in. The majority of the feedback was positive, however there was one opinion in particular that several individuals wanted to let me know: You are not her mom. You aren't a mom. You will never be her mom.
Mom is a title that women hold closely, and I understand that. Mom is your title and yours alone. I didn't plan on being a stepmom, nor did I pick the title. It is not something that I worked for, yet it is something that I am working on. I'm here to love and care for my stepdaughter as best I can and put her needs and wants first. Being a stepmom is a separate relationship from being mom, and one does not threaten or replace the other.
My response to the emails and comments telling me I am not "Mom" is simple: I don't want to be her mom! Did you read my article? I really like being a stepmom. Why would I want to change this wonderful relationship we have? And being stepmom (not mom) is part of the reason why our relationship is great.
A bit of advice I forgot to include in my previous article is, have a sense of humor. I think having a sense of humor is important in life and it's particularly important for stepparents. (And probably parents, but I wouldn't know, right?)
So for all the "not-moms" out there, here are just a few of the benefits of being a stepmom:
- In case you have memory problems you will constantly be reminded that, YOU AREN'T HER MOTHER! Contrary to what people believe, this news will never catch you off guard. You didn't give birth to this child, there's another woman (Mom) who did all that work.
- As one reader pointed out last week, being a stepmom means you are free of stretch marks, heartburn, and your new child (for me, age 5) sleeps through the night!
- As a stepmother you have free rein to brag and boast about your stepchild. I justify this by telling myself that I didn't create her so it's not obnoxious to post every single accomplishment, big or small.
- In that same manner, when your stepchild is behaving badly you can easily get away with, "Don't look at me, I didn't make her."
- Everyone has heard the phrase, parenting is a joy. I'm here to tell you the real phrase is, part-time parenting is a joy.
On a serious note, the response I received from the previous article made me realize there is a need for positive stepparenting material. The truth is, we are parents and we play an important role in these children's lives. For many of us it's a role that we weren't prepared for and we are here looking for support and advice. Often, when we get online what we find is a lot of negativity and more battles. As stepparents, we are helping to shape future citizens of our world, let's remove the ego and the negativity and focus on what is important -- the children.
My goal with this ongoing series is to be a voice of positivity in the stepparenting community. Please comment or contact me with your stories and questions, or suggest topics you would like to see covered. Based on the response of my last article, we've all got a lot to say.
You can follow Kelly here on HuffPost and at her blog: www.wickedcoolstepmom.com