An Open Letter To The Woman Who Accused Me Of Trying To Replace My Step-Children’s Mom

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I’m a wife, stepmom x3 and mom x 1 who when I couldn’t find the stepmom support I was looking for, decided to create it myself. I love mac + cheese, distressed denim, sauvignon blanc and all things Dateline. 

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Hi, I'm JAMIE

To the woman on instagram who accused me to trying to replace my stepchildren’s Mom.

First of all, I want to thank you. When I wrote this Instagram post, I really only anticipated receiving comments from other Stepmoms who feel the same way about their stepchildren.

Your comment, accusing me of trying to replace their mother, was a wonderful reminder of why I have chosen to be so open about life as a stepmom in the first place. It’s to debunk the b*llshit stereotypes that go hand-in-hand with the comment you left. Specifically that stepmoms who treat their stepchildren the same as they treat their own children, are on a mission to try and replace the “real mom”

I often says that when you’re a stepmom you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t… and your comment reinforced that. 

Here’s the deal. When I decided to commit myself to my husband, I committed myself to loving his three children as well. They were a package deal, no matter what. I have unconditional love for him and I have unconditional love for them. They are my family. 

Saying that out loud doesn’t mean that I am trying to devalue the relationship they have with their mom, trying to step on her toes, or how did you put it again? … “make these children mine”.

In fact, having an involved stepmom who loves them to the moon and back doesn’t have anything to do with their relationship with their mom at all. That relationship is still as important and strong as ever. It only means that they get to have an extra adult in their life who loves them and looks out for their wellbeing. Why is that such a bad thing?

You asked me to think about how hard it would be to have another woman looking after my kid every-other-week or every-other-weekend. I agree with you. I think it would be extremely hard. In fact, if you knew anything about me, you’d know that I may even be overly conscious of how our family dynamic may make her feel.

But as an adult I am confident that I would look at the bigger picture and accept that this is the reality that comes with a divorce or separation. In fact, if I were in this scenario, I would pray god that my daughter’s stepmom would love her and treat her the same as she would her own children. That’s what stepmoms should do! 

Not only because I am adult and believe in putting the best interests of my child ahead of my own insecurities, but because I am a child of divorce myself, and I know first hand how upsetting it can be to be treated second rate to a stepmom’s “own” child. Trust me, it’s a great way to set up a child to be resentful of their blended family situation. 

Despite how gut wrenching it would be for another woman to have “special moments” with my child, knowing that my child is loved, cared for, and feeling secure would by far outweigh the importance of knowing that I was doing 100% of the “Mom Jobs”

I question, when those “Mom Jobs” arise, e.g. needing new shoes, celebrating holidays and traditions, getting supplies for an upcoming school project, should I say “No sorry honey, we can’t do that, you’ll have to wait until you’re with your Mom. I don’t want to step on her toes” and carry on and do those things with my own daughter?

When my daughter, my husband and I are taking a picture, should I tell my stepchildren to step aside because they aren’t really mine?

No. You see, because amongst all the crappy things that go hand-in-hand with having divorced parents, come a few good things. One of them being you get more family! More people who have your back. More people who can together, shape you into a successful, respectful, well-rounded adult.

Not to mention, you get to celebrate many traditions twice!

There is a lot of talk about how damaging a divorce can be to a child, when in reality it’s not necessarily the divorce itself that leaves long lasting affects. It’s how the adults in the child’s life choose to carry on after the fact.

Society’s assumption that there needs to be a turf war between the stepmom and the ex-wife is damaging in so many ways.

Children are NOT possessions. They are little impressionable people with a strong urge to please, to belong and to be loved. Their loyalty to one parent should never affect their loyalty to another.  In fact, when I first became a stepmom, I was told “when I’m not around, you’re the next best thing”. I’ve taken that very seriously.

I once saw a post online that said,

“What do you want your children to
remember about their childhood?

I’ve thought about this question ever since. 

I want my stepchildren to look back on their childhood and say,

“yeah it sucked that my parents split up, but I had two great families. My parents and step-parents all worked together make sure I had an amazing childhood”

NOT

“Oh goodness, growing up my mom and stepmom hated each other so much. It was so awkward.”

OR

“I hated going to my Dad’s house. His wife did so many great things with her kid, and barely anything for me. I felt so left out.”

A while back, I went to wine with my husband’s ex-wife. A few weeks later, she, her partner and her parents came to our place to have pictures taken before my stepdaughter’s graduation. When I mentioned this to some people in my social circle, their response was “Really, that’s so weird”

The fact that “Really, that’s so weird” is the typical response when ex-spouses and step-parents can all get along is pretty damn sad. 

The fact that it’s seen as abnormal? Even sadder.

With that, when I treat my stepchildren as if they are my own, am I trying to replace their mom? Heck no. She is their Mom, I am their Stepmom. There is room for us both.

So the next time you see a stepmom show their love for their stepchildren, instead of thinking, “their poor mom” why not think “wow those children sure are lucky”.


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DISCLAIMER: I anticipate some backlash to this post. I anticipate that those who are not able to have an amicable and positive co-parenting relationship with the ex will respond ‘well that’s nice for you, but it’s not possible for us”. And you’re right, it’s not possible for everyone.

In fact, people may disagree with everything I’ve said. That’s totally okay!

Every family is different, and every blended family has a different dynamic. What I am trying to show is that there are blended families out there with stepmoms who adore the kids and do think of them as part of their family. Doing so doesn’t mean they are trying to take over. It means they are trying to show someone that they love them! They shouldn’t be scrutinized for that.

Remember, you cannot control how someone else acts. At the end of the day, all you can do is control your own actions, continue to look at the big picture and be a positive role model for the little people in your life

 

Comments +

  1. Julie Grace Hamner says:

    Hi, Jamie. I appreciate your point of view on this and think your heart is in the right place. I also sincerely hope that you are never in the position of having to deal with the complex feelings that come with having your child raised by someone else part of the time. Also consider that ex husbands and ex wives often quite consciously use the specter of a new loving step parent to cause further hurt and pain to a former spouse. People are complex and often incapable of maturity 100% of the time. There are many competing agendas in blended family and coparent relationships.

  2. thestepmumdiaries@gmail.com says:

    This post was so true. I’m constantly being reminded by other people that i’m not a real parent and being questioned about why I do things with the kids. When the kids are poorly and want a cuddle am I meant to push them away and leave my partner to handle it by himself? Or at Christmas and birthdays am i not meant to buy them presents, as if they were my own, in case i up stage their mum? One manager actually asked me why i was taking leave off in the school holidays because "well they’re not your children…". I totally agree with you that the more people to love children the better. It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job as a step mum- i hope that with a bit more learning and growing i can be as good. This is my (new) blog about my learning curve as a step mum if you wanted to check it out http://www.thestepmumdiaries.blogspot.com

  3. Alicia Chandler says:

    I divorced when my three children were young, and their father remarried quickly. Once she and I met, which is unbelievable to so many, we immediately loved each other. This woman was there for my kids, she loved them as her own. She respected me as a mother, but took her own role with my children very seriously, and I knew they were taken care of, and truly loved in her care. She and I would hang out in public at times… We used to do ‘Popcorn Friday’ together at the Elementary school the kids attended. People always thought that was soooo weird! We just laughed together at the ignorance of those around us, but it also reminded us how grateful we were for each other and the ability and willingness of each of us to open our hearts to each other, knowing that our relationship was going to affect the kids in the way in which we responded. We could have been jealous and angry with each other, but the kids would have had to deal with that. Instead, we both attended school events, birthday parties, etc. and the kids could just enjoy being kids, knowing they were surrounded with love.

    She divorced their father several years ago, and now lives out of state. We are still friends on Facebook. She still loves the kiddos as much as she ever did. Two of the kids still include her in their lives, while my daughter has some anger, due to events in their divorce. I always encourage the kids to keep in touch with her… This woman was a very special part of their lives for many years, while they were young and being influenced, and I, to this day, thank God that she was the one their father chose to marry after me. I will never stop being thankful to this woman for being a mother and a friend to my children, and for welcoming me, ensuring that we would be one family, working together to support these kids and surround them with love, and I think together, we set a great example for the kids, as well as all those in the public, constantly surprised by how we stuck together. I pray for all parents who go through this to open up to the other parent… you can be amazed by how loving another person can be, and the difference they can make in the lives of your children.

  4. sebben.christine@gmail.com says:

    I stumbled upon your site a few days ago and I really wish I had found it, you, sooner! I am lucky enough to be part of a blended family that puts the children first. I have a respectable relationship with their mother and it saddens me that people find this "odd", "rare", "weird". Being a stepmom is the hardest thing I have ever done; it is challenging and an emotional rollercoaster that is not always fun. But, the reward is worth it. I love my partner and the girls and I would fight fire for them. This was a very helpful post because sometimes society makes us stepmoms feel like we are doing something wrong – when, in fact, we are putting children that we didn’t grow in our bodies ahead of our own needs. It’s not something that everyone can do; I feel it to be a bit of a superhero kinda trait!

    • jamiescrimgeour@live.ca says:

      Oh I loved that! "Society makes us stepmoms feel like we are doing something wrong – when, in fact, we are putting children that we didn’t grow in our bodies ahead of our own needs" YES!

  5. clk24765@gmail.com says:

    This hit home in so many ways… being a child of divorce and then marrying someone who already had a child, I vowed I would never make him feel anything less then loved.

    I have had great step parents and not so great step parents so I know the deal. My parents were not good married, they are however GREAT friends. I truly lucked out.

    My sons mother depises me & it baffles me to this day because I do nothing but give and love all day long to my son. I just wish his mother would understand that I am not trying to "take her place." That his father and I want nothing more then to love him and be allowed to love him with out some type of negativity.

    Thank you for writing this. It was definitely something I needed to read. Especially after the weekend I had with my son’s mother.

  6. gore_melinda@yahoo.com says:

    Thank you!

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