What I Want To Say To My Stepdaughter’s Mom

by Kristen Thiele
A woman and her stepdaughter going up wooden stairs in the forest.

You and I have so many things in common, yet society assumes we are, or should be, enemies. To be honest, for a long time (much longer than I’d like to admit), we were.

My husband is your ex-husband. I share holidays with in-laws who used to be your other family. You undoubtedly fear your daughter having firsts in our home and not yours.

I was with her when she lost her first tooth, and you were not. It was in a slice of pizza, by the way. And she swallowed it.

That tiny milestone must have sucked for you to learn of via text, as neither biological parent wants to feel left out. I get it, and I don’t.

As a mother, I’m quite sure I’d physically cringe upon sending my little girl off to spend time with another woman, a maternal figure other than me.

Still, I’ve never had to do it, so I can’t speak to the level of your angst. I can’t possibly understand the ache in your heart.

This brings me to my next point: I’m truly sorry.

I’m sorry I didn’t get my role at first. I’m sorry I was so intimidated by you having spent 12 years with my husband, at the time new boyfriend, that any communication from you not directly related to the child you shared would fill me with anger.

Looking back on things, we may have missed a chance to be actual friends.

I guess that’s the Monday morning quarterback perspective though, it’s easy to feel differently after the fact.

It’s funny to me now, seeing these versions of us: the moms who can swap stories of our respective 3-year-olds while still focusing on the 10-year-old we co-parent.

That said, I’m pretty sure that same little girl — the one from our joint family equations — preferred when we didn’t get along. Easier to play us that way (she’s not dumb), but that’s a post for a different time.

I recently baked cookies for your now fiancé prior to his deployment and had the girls decorate a poster, thanking him for his service.

I think of your son, my stepdaughter’s half-brother, when we go on family outings and bring him treats.

We’re friends. Kind of, right?

Still, there’s this lingering feeling of unrest between you and I, the two most important women in that 10-year-old’s life, and I take full responsibility for that.

You tried, and I resisted.

Then your perspective on me as a person shifted, and I respect that.

You must have thought: who’s this woman and why does she think she can tell me when or when not to talk to my ex?

I’ll give myself enough credit to say that whenever it was in reference to your daughter, his responses were immediate and in no way judged by me.

Still, as you’d delve into personal stories or anecdotes from times past — things not having to do with your shared child — it scared me, and that’s where we hit a metaphorical road block. One we’re still trying to recover from.

I should have respected the history and how those things may have been good for your daughter to see and hear: joint experiences from her parents now past relationship. After all, she had a mere 3 years with the two of you together. That sucks. For her, I should have been more understanding and empathetic.

But I wasn’t. I was 28 and selfish and scared.

I need you to know how sorry I am.

We’ve made great strides, and I appreciate the second chance you’ve given me.

We’ll never agree on everything. We’ll always have our own opinions of what’s right and wrong. But at the end of the day, we share a child who we want the absolute best for. Our ways of getting there may be different, but we’ll get there.

In 8 years, we’ll all be there, her siblings then close to the age she is now, watching her walk across the stage at graduation.

She’ll embark on some great college adventure, maybe travel the world. Then, someday not too long down the road, she could be someone’s mom or even stepmom.

And you and I? We’ll have prepared her for that day.