What I Am

“You are not their mother.”

If you have been in any kind of stepmother scenario for more than a nanosecond, then you have heard these words. If you are like me, then you really had no uncertainty regarding whether the children in question had actually passed through your birth canal or not, rendering the oft-repeated words useless for all practical purposes.


Tell me something I don’t already know. Unless the kids sprang from somewhere besides my uterus, already developed to several years of age, and without my remembrance of such an event, then I was already fully aware they did not fall from my body.

The kids have always called me by my first name. They are jerked around enough without me coaching them what to say, what to call me. They were urged by others to add “Miss” to my name to formalize and impersonalize our relationship, but that didn’t stick. Apparently even my first name isn’t cold and distant enough for some tastes.

I worked for years in schools and other settings with young children, and I noticed that the children most likely to want to call me “Mom” were the ones with unstable and rocky family lives. They appeared to seek what they expected from that title from someone who seemed more likely to deliver in a consistent manner.

I would expect my mother not to lie to me, not to manipulate me, not to interrogate me and threaten me when I am not quick enough spilling details. I would expect my mother to protect me, not bunt me around like a toy, not dangle me like a reward for others, not stamp a dollar sign on my forehead and count me as currency. I would expect my mother to love me without conditions placed on it: “Tell me this or I won’t love you. You don’t love me if you don’t do this.” I expect my mother not to defer morals, standards, and integrity to the highest bidder and expect me to follow suit.

I would, in fact, expect that from any parent.

A good parent.

What I am not: the children’s biological mother.

What I am: a caretaker the children can trust. A friend who is honest with them. The person who stands by their father’s side. A team member. Someone who loves them, and their father, without fine print. Dependable. I am someone who entered their lives at an extremely painful and vulnerable time, and I held them, let them cry. I protect them, I fight for them.

In short, I love them and do the best I can for them.

I question the motives of people who cry foul at this. I question whose interests are being looked out for when someone who loves the children is attacked and expected to retreat simply to appease oversized egos.

What I am to Gary matters to me. What I am to the kids matters immeasurably.

As for anyone else? Maybe what I am is a reminder of what they should be.

About TheSmirkingCat

I am endlessly trying to make sense of a world that has completely and unapologetically lost its mind.
This entry was posted in kids, love, mothers, parenting, stepmothers. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to What I Am

  1. Amy says:

    Its the women with great insecurities and inadequacies in parenting that feel the need to throw out that reminder. As if pushing a baby out of their birth canal makes them all powerful or all knowing. Parenting is doing – taking care of and protecting the kids. If their egg donor puts them thru the ringer and makes them feel badly for having someone else love them then she shows exactly how worthless she is.


  2. Sharon says:

    Bravo! I love this post! I am so glad that the derogatory remarks of others has not lessened your passion for caring. Those kids need a strong, trustworthy role model in their life. Whether you're related by blood is irrelevant.

  3. Smirking Cat says:

    I don't believe all instances of poor parenting on the part of the BM are due to insecurities. For some, it seems to be an inflated sense of their own worth, a sense of entitlement, a refusual to grow up and care about anyone but themselves. The kids are tools, nothing more, and that is precisely how they are treated.

  4. kelly says:

    Great post! If you were any one else besides a stepmom providing love,care and an immeasurable amount of value to a child's life…your efforts and devotion would be celebrated!

    The most important thing is that Gary and kids recognize your love for them.

  5. Syn says:

    This was a familiar comment made several times a long time ago, I believe, by a person afraid and insecure, as an attempt to push me out and belittle the close relationship I had with the kids for many years and/or by a person who thought she was all the kids needed.

    However, for the first time in 14 years, last week the ex asked for MY help last week with my stepdaughter over major issues going on right now with her. She even met my hubby halfway so my stepdaughter could spend an unplanned several days here so we could talk to her. I think the ex was desperate to help her daughter and she admitted that she couldn't get thru to her and was hoping I could.

  6. AMEN! I wouldn't have wanted to have been used as a pawn by my mother either. 🙂 People are amazing.

  7. Pam says:

    I've made the relationship with their dad “legal.” So of course the kids were also told “She's not your REAL mom.”

    This Step Mom wears the badge with pride, thanks. Cuz, in my situation, if I was their REAL mom, I wouldn't be there when I was needed.

    I'd like the private link too, if that's ok.

  8. Wonderful, and nicely written. This could be the on the poster of all stepmama's everywhere. It is a very sad state of affairs that leaves those of us fighting for our stepkids right to live happy sane lives against people who call themselvse mom.
    Thanks for writing this.

  9. The first thing my stepkids asked after their dad and I got married was, “Can we call you Mom now?”

    I thought about it, but realized that I didn't need that reaffirmation. I'm with you- I may not be their bio-mom, but that doesn't lessen our bond or make me love them any less. It also means that I chose to love and provide for them. I'm not obligated to- I chose to. I think that makes for a stronger relationship, in the end.

    You are a wonderful person, and Gary and the kids are incredibly lucky to have you.

  10. ~Tulip~ says:

    I like this post. And I too have always looked at it the same way. After being told on a rambling answering maching message that I was not, in fact, Daisy mother…..and my reaction was What?!?! Really?!?! I had no idea…you'd think someone would remember if six years ago a child came out of her uterus. You're not the mom…always a ridiculous and obvious comment in my book.

  11. Smirking Cat says:

    Tulip, my first reaction to these words was, “Yet you are their mother, and you treat them like THAT?”

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