It’s awkward because you’re not the mother, but you are doing all of the momming when your stepchildren are home. Care flows from the top down. That means adults care for children and that’s the position stepparents are in, giving care and not necessarily receiving any care back. But. That is what being a mother is all about. Biological mothers enjoy the softness of time, shared memories and a bond receiving love back from their children.
Stepmothers are starting at square-one, building a relationship from the ground up and lack the biological connection, shared bonds of good times and memories. Stepmothers receive little back (emotionally speaking) from their stepchildren and that’s tough because stepmothers are putting time, energy and care into the family. So instead of expecting a celebration around the tasks that end up as your responsibilities – perhaps turn it around and make Mother’s Day about mothering.
What is there to celebrate about your stepchildren? What would be nice for them to hear coming from an adult that isn’t their parent? How might you influence positive change by listing all the things you feel they do right and are good at? How might you fill the hole of a disengaged mother? A mother who is no longer with them?
Flowers, candy and thanks are all nice, but meaning something to a child, becoming a person to count on and a person who shows up for them even though you’re not their real parent – that’s a gift that’s bound to pay back. So find that Hallmark card for mother’s day and write a note for your stepchild to read. Will they cherish it forever? Maybe not. But each year on Mother’s Day they’ll come to know you and the good parts of themselves through a stepmom who took the time to care about them each year – and as they grow, they’ll realize that you didn’t have to do that. This is what bonds are made of. Giving is what builds relationships, fine tunes friendships and helps blend a family.