I’m not a biological mom. I am a full-time stepmom. Those of my friends who are biomoms tell me that I am having the same experiences that they have with their kids; the same feelings of being overwhelmed, familiar frustrations, chores, and obligations.
I believe that’s true. Those who are biological moms do share many of the same experiences as me. But what they sometimes don’t see, and what I’ve learned in the seven years of raising my stepkids, is that I don’t share the same experiences as them.
I never grew a baby inside of my body for nine months with dreams of who that child would turn out to be. There was no gender reveal party. (Which I’m guessing might be going the way of the Dodo bird anyway.)
I never got to wonder who my child would look like; will my baby have my blue eyes or my smile? No. My kids would never have my features, and there would be no baby shower with women telling me otherwise.
I never had the excitement of thinking about baby names, and I didn’t get a rush of the bonding hormone oxytocin when delivering my baby. I never heard their first giggle, saw their first step, or listened for their first word. I never eagerly awaited for my child to call me ‘Mom’.
My family never encouraged me to become a stepmom. This wasn’t something for them to celebrate. Instead I heard warnings of how hard this path might be. I saw doubt and confusion in their eyes, not anticipation or love for this decision.
As a stepmom, I am not allowed to apply for my kids medical cards, social insurance numbers, or sign off on any government documents. Many times I turn a corner, and another legal roadblock stands like a brick wall in front of me, reminding me that good intentions and hard work don’t always matter; that I’m not really their mom.
At times, strangers give me a second glance when they hear the kids use my first name. Am I their babysitter? Their Auntie? People aren’t sure how to address me when they talk to us at a dental or doctor’s office. It’s not straightforward.
As mothers/stepmoms we all have different experiences. I’m not suggesting that as a biological mom, things are easier for you, or even that you all had a wonderful pregnancy. I know many of you did not. But we have chosen different paths. If you have not chosen to love, nurture, and raise another women’s child(ren) as your own, then we have not had the same experiences. If I have never birthed and raised my own biological children, then I have not had the same experiences as those who have.
Stepmoms need to find their own tribe. Not with the intention of excluding biological moms, but with the intention of finding someone else who walks this same journey.
To all the good moms/stepmoms out there: Let’s try to honour our differences, find similarities, and work together to be the best moms we can be to our kids, and to one another.
*If you’re interested in learning more about my stepparenting story, my book is available here.