As far as divorced moms go, you’d probably consider me a lucky one. It’s easy to take one look at our blended family (my daughter’s father, stepmom, stepdad, and I), see how we all get along now and co-parent successfully, and think we must live in la la land. What people don’t see is how difficult it was to get to this point, and I never once considered myself “lucky” during that time.
Learning to share my daughter with another woman was the hardest challenge for me after my divorce. But once I mastered that hurdle, I realized just how lucky I was to have a woman like her helping to mother my child. She truly cares for and loves our daughter like her own.
Of course, not all moms have been so lucky. I’ve chatted with quite a few women going through some of the worst situations where co-parenting just isn’t possible. After speaking with them, we’ve come up with a general list that bio moms want to tell their children’s stepmoms.
1. I don’t want your man.
I’ve been there, done that, and it didn’t work out for a reason. So please put your mind at ease — I do not want your man. He is yours until death do you part. And you know what? I’m happy you two are together. Seriously! You two deserve that happiness.
2. I’m afraid of you.
More specifically, I’m afraid of my child loving you more than me. I know it might sound silly, but when another mother figure comes into my kid’s life, there’s always that voice in the back of my head saying, “My daughter will think she’s more fun than me” and other such comments. I’m sorry if my fear rears its ugly head sometimes; it’s just my insecurities talking.
3. I’m trying.
It’s hard for me to let go of the idea that I was going to be the only woman raising my child. Accepting you as another female role model and your role as stepmom is what’s best for my child, and I realize that. But put yourself in my shoes. It can be hard sometimes to learn to share, especially when it means sharing my child. I’m doing my best to try to accept you and your importance.
4. Hearing about you makes me happy and sad.
Sometimes I get sad listening to stories about how much fun my child had with you, her stepmom — wishing that I had been there to witness her fun. But at the same time, it makes me so happy to hear about your adventures. I know it’s because she cares about you, and you clearly care about her. And that is the biggest reason why I want to have a relationship with you too.
5. I’m sorry I said you aren’t a “real mom.”
I know you’re a mom. You are. A stepmom is a mom. But I don’t think anyone really understands the otherworldly connection a mother has to her child until she births one of her own. It’s supernatural. Animalistic. And sometimes when I voice my feelings, and you tell me you don’t understand, my only explanation for those feelings are that otherworldly love and emotion. So when I said “you might understand if you had a baby of your own,” I wasn’t saying you aren’t a mom — I was only referencing that blow-me-away emotional connection.
6. Stop judging me.
There’s no one way to parent, and no one is perfect at it. So when you try to tell me something I’m doing as a mom is “wrong” in your eyes, all it does is make me mad. No mother is perfect. No parent is perfect. And that includes you. So if you’re genuinely concerned, let me know — once. But stop “calling me out” every chance you get. Understand that my way of doing things is different than yours.
7. I trust you more than your husband.
My ex and I have gone through a lot, but my relationship with you is new. Your loving way of caring for my child has given me reason to trust you, and I respect you for that. My trust in you is actually greater than the trust I’m just now rebuilding with your husband. And I honestly think you make him a better person. Truth: You actually make this co-parenting thing easier.
8. Don’t believe everything you hear about me.
As with any gossip you hear, there are three sides to every story — his, mine, and the truth. Try not to believe every horrible thing you hear about me, if you aren’t hearing it straight from my mouth. I know you’ll always back him up because he’s your husband, but I hope you can keep an open mind when it comes to my character.
9. Don’t talk bad about me around my child.
I understand you might not like me, or you might have a bad impression of me. You might even vent to your mom or your friends about whatever “terrible” thing you think I did. But don’t speak poorly about me around my kid. All you’re doing is hurting her as well as any potential relationship between you and me.
10. I wish we communicated better.
We might not always understand each other, but I want to understand. Truly, I do. I honestly think most of our arguments are started over miscommunication and misunderstandings. Maybe we could work on that? As a team?
11. I am not your enemy.
Contrary to what you may believe, I do not do things to hurt you. In fact, when I make decisions, you aren’t on my radar at all. With some parenting decisions, maybe you should be! Especially seeing as we’re a team now and all. From now on, I’ll be more thoughtful in keeping you in the loop. And if you think I offended you, let me know. I’ll try to be more mindful in the future.
12. There are boundaries.
I realize that being a stepparent isn’t easy. There are boundaries to navigate while developing your own relationship with our daughter. Being a mother figure while not trying to replace “Mom” for example. Please be mindful of my role (and your husband’s) when making parenting decisions. Maybe we could chat sometime over coffee to discuss some of them.
13. We’re a team.
The more family my child has, the better. Children can never have too many people who love and support them. We are all her parents now, and I respect you for stepping up to the plate. We’re a team, so let’s start acting like one.
14. Thank you for always putting my kid’s needs first.
Thank you for loving and caring for our daughter like your own. You put the stigma around stepmoms to shame. I couldn’t have asked for a better bonus mom for my child. I’m so glad she has you, and that you’re in all of our lives.
15. Thank you for respecting me and my role as Mom.
I could have been stuck with my ex bringing a woman who disrespected and/or resented me into the equation, but I was lucky enough to get you. Thank you for respecting my role as Mom to our child and not trying to replace me in her life. How you treat me only adds to my trust in you. Thank you.
16. You make being a stepmom look easy.
I’ve dated guys with kids, and all I can say is — being a stepmom is hard (especially if the child and/or the parents don’t respect you as another parental figure). But you make it look so easy. I guess that’s just a testament to your gracious character. You’re amazing!
17. I appreciate all you do.
Our lives and that of our child would not run as smoothly without you. Thank you for all that you do. You’re always there to pick up the slack, to offer a helping hand, and to offer advice when requested. I might not say it often, but I really do appreciate your contributions to the team. And I know our daughter appreciates it too.
If you’re a mom who wants to improve your relationship with your child’s stepmom, a good place to start would be to find common ground. Ask the other out for a cup of coffee to get to know each other. Keep getting together to craft, do yoga, or whatever you enjoy until you feel comfortable enough to air your grievances respectfully. Take offense to a comment? Ask for clarification before engaging defense-mode. You could even share this article with her when you ask her to meet up.
Let’s work together for our children’s sake.