For the first time in 7 years, I received Happy Mother's Day texts from my stepdaughters. They also gave me a nice card and repressed general complaints and moodiness on Saturday, the day before. It was a nice weekend. I am happy to report that I no longer get to say, "I have never heard from them on Mother's Day."
So, I wanted to comment on some of the happenings I witnessed around me.
I noticed a general trend of Dad's not caring a bit about honoring their wives on Mother's Day, or helping the kids to honor their mom. I heard a number of stories that embodied the, "What? You're not my mom," logic.
I find this highly ironic, as MANY stepmoms help their stepkids honor their mom, no matter the poor relationship between them. Not only should a stepmom probably not bother, but they do it despite their own deep hurt and tears. Wow.
That is not me. But I have read many-a-post from hundreds of stepmoms who do this every year, and then fret when the kids are teens and don't care about doing something for their moms! They question what they should do, if they should force the teen to do something or just let it be...Amazing!
Why would they do this? Because they feel it is the right thing to do. They feel that it is just right to teach kids how to honor their parent. I believe I would likely feel that way as well, if the kids weren't with their mom 70% or if she hadn't poisoned my life. It seems like a lot of the stepmoms help their kids do something for their moms when they have more custody or have a civil relationship, or even slightly-less-than-civil relationship with the mom.
Back to Dads: In one case, the young teen daughter was pissed because Dad wouldn't help her pay for a gift for mom (who is also a stepmom). In another case, one of the stepkids (also a teen daughter) went ahead and expressed gratefulness to her stepmom even though her dad wasn't willing to do anything for her. So, although these husbands kind of suck, at least two kids (young teens, both) saw past it. That gives me hope for those of you that don't receive any recognition, or just a mention, for your work, dedication, and love, even if you're husband doesn't "get it."
I also saw an increase in Stepmoms sharing super positive messages with each other late Saturday and early Sunday. Talk about bolstering the troops! Thank you, active meme-posting, ultra-positive stepmoms out there who were battling the feeling of defeat before it could sink in!
I loved the messages of "whether recognized or not, you are a mom." I liked one particular post where a woman described her night of cleaning up puke at 2am and stated there's no way anyone could say she's not a mom after her night! Damn straight! I like this path we're headed down as a group. I see a stronger voice among us, finally, stating that not all stepmoms are secondary and to accept your misery. F that.
I also saw an increase of the inclusion of moms of all sorts from kids. Very good. Maybe there is a growing acceptance. (Or am I just being a bit naive since I heard from my s'kids this year?)
I am very aware that I am a secondary mom, unlike many stepmoms who are actually the primary!
And if I am not a mom, then I am a parent- and both of my stepkids do know that. Our house would not be functional without that basic level of role acceptance.
If you can't bare to call me a mom, then the only other appropriate term to describe who I am to them is "advocate." I am not "like an aunt," which I hear many people advise us to be. I am not just an adult. I am much more than another person in their lives. I do know them better than anyone else, other than their parents. I do not put myself ahead of their mom (because she's scary) but I do advocate on their behalf sometimes in direct contrast to mom. You can consider that wrong, but I've been thanked by the kids for the times where I made something happen for them that wouldn't have otherwise. That's enough for me to know.
Remember being super angry at your parents or wishing you could pick other parents? Most of us, probably 99%, had those kid or teenaged moments. If you felt ignored by your parents at times, or like they didn't get you, I get the benefit of sometimes being the person who steps in. I mostly belong in the general-parent pile, and the typical youth angst is easily directed at me, but in other times, I see where the "regular" parents may be missing something. Simple day-to-day example: When one kid is doing something that both parents want to see or are required to attend, but the other kid is just dying to do something else or needs more time for homework...I can make the something else happen. I don't do it out of request from my husband...He is usually focused on what he needs to do. I see it coming and ask if I can take the other one to what they want to do. In other times, there are more important things for me to step up to and advocate for. Through years of reading up on rights and trying different angles, I am considered a parent in most official capacities and therefore can make things happen. (If you need tips, message me!)
I'm proud to have filled the occasional gap. That's my most important role in their lives.
I hope your Mother's Day went well. If not, I hope you have a little vacation for yourself planned soon or some girlfriends who sent you love. Now, forget about it until it sneaks up on us next year!