The weirdest part to accept when you're a stepmom is that even when the kids don't like you, mock you, ignore you, and hurt you- They are still learning a ton from you.
I learn that lesson over and over again. My stepkids aren't that bad to me anymore, though sometimes they hurt me a lot more than they know and it's usually not intentioned now. I guess it could be more related to age, maturity, and the person who's primarily raising them now.
But still, I see them pick up things from me. They may have resisted me as much as they could those years that their mom was manipulating them the most, but I was still there, a lot. They're still going to pick things up from me, just because I'm an adult in their lives. Now that they're on better behavior, I'm seeing a lot of that seep through.
Once again, I'm seeing my oldest stepkid copy things I do and say. My husband and I have also noticed a continuation and increase of the girls seeking my approval or help before their dad's. Sometimes the youngest will turn to me and ask for something, even though her dad is right there. His shock is quite funny, and I have no idea why she does this. She could tell you that I very often tell her to ask her dad about most things, yet she comes to me first. (I'm starting to think it's more because she knows that if I disapprove, I'll probably win out later... She's a smart cookie sometimes.)
I took my oldest stepdaughter to get some new jeans that fit whatever style she wants this year. Most of her jeans were family hand-me-downs from her cool beach cousin, and she's been quite fine with those. But she's now the same height as that cousin, so we've been taking her out for new things more and more. I told her she just picks what she wants and I'll buy it, just as long as it actually fits and she won't outgrow it in only a few months. I specifically told her she didn't need to "show" me what they looked like- just tell me what's good or not. Yet, sure enough, I hear my name being called. For both pairs of jeans she picked out, she wanted me to see how they looked and tell me why she liked them- and I noticed it seemed like she was trying to convince me. I really couldn't care less- I even told her she could get jeans her dad would complain about if she wanted. Yet, there she was, showing me jeans and looking for my approval.
I know that their mom is pretty much all that really matters to them- with her love being somewhat conditional, they have to get her approval first and foremost, even at the cost of others like their very own dad's. But I am glad to see them be comfortable enough with me to at least act like they want my approval. It does show that my female role-model and "other mother" role is legitimate to them, for right now.