Why stepmother isn't a bad word
This is a short blog post to tell you that if you are present, available, and trying — you are doing a good job. I have to tell this to myself often as a stepmother/bonus mom. People will tell you that you shouldn’t add the qualifiers like step and bonus. I will politely disagree.
If you got your kiddos later in their lives (in my case 9 and 12), your influence wasn’t a part of their world in some of the most formative times. It will be blatantly obvious you aren’t their mother and the challenges will be different from the ones your birth children bring.
Depending on your role in your bonus kids’ lives, you are their main mother figure but if the birth mother is even KIND of in the picture, you most likely won’t be called “mom,” but that’s OK. However you are the person the oldest might trust to text about certain things. You are the person that cooks the meals and makes sure hygiene is being followed. You are the person registering them for school, driving them to the dentist, and yes, being the sometimes coarse voice in the household while your spouse is at work. You will cry because you are that coarse voice. You will apologize for being that coarse voice. You will doubt how good you are even doing and you will feel failed as well as frustrated. But you ARE their mother in every other sense of the word even if you won’t be given the title.
First name, another term of endearment that isn’t “mom” or even a pause when people ask, will be normal. It’s part of the whole thing, but titles are just words. Calling yourself, or being called, a stepmom should stop being stigmatized. It’s just a word anyway. I liken this to when people say they don’t see color. Yes you do. And I want you to. It’s part of who I am. What they really mean, if they are being truthful, is no matter the color, I will respect you and treat you fairly. See me but be kind, understanding, and empathetic to what you see.