When it became apparent that I was going to be a step mother, I started to read about what it could be like. It would be hard at times and amazing at others. It would be a lot of work without a lot of the credit. One thing that came up repeatedly was how much Mother’s Day would suck. Especially since I haven’t yet birthed any children of my own. Last year, this was definitely true. I really struggled with my role in my family and how other people felt about it. I got upset that I no one else seemed to recognize me as a mother, despite feeling much like a mother to our daughter (we’ve decided to stop using the word “step” whenever possible).
Recently I’ve had an epiphany. It began when deciding what my kiddo would call me. At first I wanted some form of “mom” and her birth mother was totally fine with that (note- her mom is freaking awesome). But the more I thought about it and said it in my head, it just didn’t feel right. I decided that for the time being we just drop and it and have her call me Colleen. As she grew and her vocabulary expanded, she used my name more and more. Not only did she use it, she seemed to be using it in the same way she would use the words “mommy” or “daddy.” To her, the word “Colleen” just meant “you…. the one who takes care of me.” I’ve even caught her saying things like “Where’s MY Colleen?” This also makes me giggle a little bit to think that she might assume everyone has a Colleen. It also leads to some awkward and some laughable social situations where people just assume that I’m her mother. For instance in the grocery store the other day a nice older lady said to her, “Are you having a nice time shopping with Mommy?” and she responded, “THAT’S not Mommy… That’s COLLEEN!” In some weird way it made me very happy.
So, I’ve thought through all that and it has led me to some more conclusions. I am not her mother. Please read that again but read it without any sort of negative connotation. In fact, read it in a cheery voice. I’m not her mother, I’m her Colleen. While at times I may act in ways that a mother would act, I have a very special and unique role in her life. We have a bond unlike any other bond she has. We share things that no one else shares. But, I am not her favorite person in the world, her mother is, and that is ok! Her mother SHOULD be her favorite person in the world. I’ve become very comfortable with my role has her Colleen.
This Mother’s Day I was actually given the opportunity to spend some time with our kiddo, which I think a lot of step mothers wish they could have. However, I decided that she should spend the day with her mother. Instead, my husband and I decided to pick another day separate from Mother’s Day when she can celebrate “Colleen’s Day” (May 20th this year) so we can do something in honor of our special bond that no one else has.
I really wish I would have had this realization sooner. I felt too insecure and worried in the past. It was getting in the way of my relationships, and I’m pretty sure it was driving my husband crazy. But now, I’m feeling confident and peaceful. I can enjoy Mother’s Day with my own mother. I can love my daughter with my whole heart.