• Mon, Sep 23 - 5:39 pm ET

10 Signs That You’re A Stepmom

stepmom dvdDespite the growing prevalence of blended families, step-mommying still manages to leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Cultural weirdness around stepparents, specifically stepmothers, bubble up over notions you think we would have outgrown by 2013. But being a stepmother isn’t just limited to what people want to say about you, but how you experience the parenting world around you.

1. People ask about your kid’s “real mom”

2. Mother’s Day makes you the tiniest bit uncomfortable

3. One of your kids has an amazing “mom” adjacent nickname for you

4. You start a lot of declarative sentences with, “as a parent in a blended family…”

5. You get into epic comment thread fights with people who say you’ll never supplant your stepchild’s biological mother

6.You feel awkward navigating most parenting sites

7. You feel like you constantly have to explain that you fiercely love your kid, no biology required

8. You feel like you have to out yourself when in a group of bio parents

9. You don’t like the term “stepmom” and would like an alternative word

10. You didn’t know you could love someone this much

(photo: natiel)

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  • chickadee

    Number 1 sign that you are a stepmom? Your spouse has children from a previous marriage or alliance.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Number 2 sign? You have been called profanity by a woman you barely know.

    • Andrea

      It took me like 5 minutes to get this. I need more coffee before I read your comments, your wit is more than I can handle. ;)

    • chickadee

      Or had your moral code disparaged to your inlaws by a woman who pretend to your face that she welcomes you to the family….

  • Victoria Morningstar

    I only have bio kids and I hate the term stepmom too. I have an amazing step-mother who means the world to me, and I wish there was another term I could use that conveyed “my mother who I am not biologically related too but I wish she was.” I wish I could come up with a better thing to call her other than just her first name, but that would cause mega drama with my bio mom. I’ll just continue to feel all warm and squishy inside when I hear her call me her daughter.

    • Alicia Kiner

      Can you use one of the other “mother” words? I don’t know what you call your bio mom, but assuming it’s Mom, can you call your second mom, Mama or Ma, or something similar, yet different? I have the issue where my mother in law wants me to call her mom, but my mother would be extremely offended if I did that, so I’ve started calling her by the Korean word for mother. My mom doesn’t know what it means, and it means the world to my mother in law, who has actually been there for me more than my mom has been.

    • Zoe Lansing

      I had a similar issue but in my case I did’t want to call my stepmother “mom” or refer to her as my mother because the only person I’ve ever called that or referred to as such was my emotionally abusive, neglectful biological mother.For me,those words now have a negative connotation (but only when used in context of my life and family of orgin,if that makes sense).My stepmother loves me has been there for me 100% ever since I was about 7.When I refer to my parents,I mean my dad & stepmother & I only ever refer to my biological mother as exactly that yet I can’t bring myself to call my stepmother “mom” or refer to her as my mother (even though she’s the one I acknowledge on Mother’s Day).
      My stepmother has called me her daughter for many years.One time she asked me if it bothered me.I said no.She said “good,because as far as I’m concerned you’re my daughter in every way that counts”.I told her she was my mother in every way that counts,too,and asked her if it bothered her that I didn’t call her “mom”‘.She said no,just like blood doesn’t stop me from being her daughter,a name doesn’t stop her from being my mother.
      Maybe you could have a similar discussion with your stepmother? That way she’d know that even if the title isn’t there, the feelings are.

  • Simone

    Hm. My son’s stepmother accused me of child abuse, abducted my son for six months and attacked me. I don’t like the word much either.

  • Jessie

    I married my husband three months ago, we’ve been together for three years. His son is now 10. We’ve been through a lot as a family- including a horrible on going custody battle. It’s been very trying and sometimes the term stepmom has such a derogatory sting. I love my boy very. Uh and I know he loves me, but there’s always this awkwardness when ever we have to make introductions and I never know if he’s comfortable when I call him “our son”

    • Miss Isis

      Why not ask him? It sounds like you have a good relationship with him. Less awkward = good!

  • chickadee

    I am a stepmother. I’m cool with the word, because everything else feels kind of artificial based on our relationship. The children have a perfectly good mother and I am married to their father. They don’t see me as a bonus mom, and I don’t see myself as one either. Maybe I would have a different perspective if I didn’t have children of my own, or if they spent more time with us. But it’s a word that doesn’t have any negative connotations for me since I am not a wicked queen nor am I planning to kick the children out of the woodcutter’s cabin to fend for themselves in the forest.

  • Mary

    Ha! I hate being a stepmother, the most thankless job in the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

    I am a stepmother/mother in a blended family, and…. I’ma just say it, okay? I hate being a stepmom. The kids were 13 and 14 when we got married – WAY too old for us to ever have a functioning relationship. I have never tried to take the place of their mother, and would never try. But the kids treat me badly. The older one has told me before that his #1 goal in life is to break up me and his dad so I will “take the baby and go away.” And I could understand if I were mean to them or tried to change their relationship with their dad in any way. Not the case. I am 0.00% involved in their discipline or chore schedules (at my husband’s request) and I often take my son to my mom or dad’s houses on the weekends that the boys stay home instead of going to their mom’s for visitation. (We have full custody.) I try to minimize my impact on their life (again, at their father’s request) to cause the least amount of strain on our family dynamic, but no matter what I do, they still treat me with disdain and I’m not even comfortable sitting in the living room with them to watch a movie because I feel like they’re always thinking, “Gosh, I wish she wasn’t here.” At this point, I am holding my breath until they graduate high school and move out of my house. And. It. SUCKS.

    • Emil

      That sounds exhausting. My sympathies.

    • chickadee

      That is horrible. HORRIBLE.

      My stepchildren are okay around me, but their father/my husband transgressed badly in their religious subculture by divorcing — you know, the you’re-going-to-hell-because-you-broke-the-sacred-covenant kind of thing. So they aren’t really longing for a close relationship with their Jezebel stepmother, and I am a little awkward around them as well because their perspective is so foreign to me. As mine is to them, I’m afraid.

      My stepkids were preteens when we married, which I think is too old in our case as well. But yeah — I would love to have a closer relationship, but it is SO not in the cards.

      Now my children adore my husband, and they have a very close relationship. I wish I could have the same sort of thing with my stepchildren, but my harlotosity just interferes….

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      I understand your situation, as mine is similar, though it’s not from a religious aspect. For us, the animosity comes from the fact that their mom is crazy and has been known to verbally and physically abuse them. Hence, why they chose to live with their dad. But very shortly after they moved in with him, so did I. The kids have told me they wished it could have been just them and their dad for a while longer. But getting a teenager to understand that it isn’t fair for them to ask their dad to compromise his happiness and stay single for them is pointless. They think “children come first” means “do whatever the kids want.”

    • Roberta

      Yeah, if that really is their behaviour, I am calling them brat-like (not complete brats, as I don’t know the entire story). My parents separated 6 years ago (I was 17, my sister 12), and 4 years ago dad’s new girlfriend moved into their place. It has taken some time, but we all have managed to find a way to make it work well for us. Technically, I’ll admit, she is not our stepmom. But we often use it as shorthand in conversations, and often makes her biological family less distant to us (i.e, her grandson becomes our step-nephew, not dad’s-girlfriend’s-grandson).

      One of the hardest things for a teenager in a blended family to come to terms with is that their parents marriage, divorce, and remarriage are not about them. But as a teen, you want to be the centre of the universe. And when the new person in your parent’s life is making huge compromises, you need to as well. I hope they will get it before long.

    • Evelyn

      That sounds awful. They do sound like they are being complete brats to you but from what you say I wonder if your husband has an unwitting had in that. You say they don’t respect you and you also tell us the things you don’t do or get involved in … at your husband’s request. I am not say that he is actively trying to undermine you but I do wonder if your life would be easier if he supported you more as an authority figure in their lives. You say that he has full custody of them and they see their mother some weekends, that means that they are living under your roof and should respect you as such regardless of their feelings for you. It is your house as much as your husband’s, you are the adult there too so you should be just as much in control of the house, the family dynamic and the rules. I really don’t see how your husband can ask you to minimise your impact on the kids lives when you live there, you shouldn’t have to be the one hiding away from them or leaving the home to spend weekends elsewhere.

      I am sorry if that sounds too critical. I am not criticising your handling of the situation and I realise that in terms of criticising your husband’s support of you I am possibly only hearing about a small part of the situation from your own post. I hope things improve soon for you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      i don’t wanna put my husband on blast, but the fact is that he goes out of his way to keep me and his kids separate. He feels bad for how they are treated by their mother, so he tries to compensate by babying them here. This results in kids who keep Fs in school because they are allowed to come home and take over the tv playing the video game; kids who talk to their father like a dog because they have no respect for him because he has yet to follow through with a single punishment in the 3 years that we have been together; and kids who are destroying my house one hole in the wall/door/cabinet at a time when they get angry. It really is ridiculous what I have to put up with in my own house that I worked my fingers to the bone to help pay for. And my husband knows this and has came to me in tears because his feelings are hurt when one of them calls him a cocky sob to his face, yet he won’t take my suggestions, which really hurts considering I am his co-parent and we share a child together. My nonexistent involvement in the older boys’ lives is a last resort technique. Any time I have tried to assert any authority, my husband goes out of his way to undermine me IN FRONT OF THEM as part of that compensation thing I mentioned. It’s become that I

  • Momma425

    My daughter has a stepmom. I hate that term too. In my case, the term should be “20 year old Twinkie who is screwing a man twice her age and thinks that seeing a child one day every other weekend makes me a valid parent who should be included in decision making.” Ha! Sorry sweetie, screwing someone’s dad doesn’t make you a stepmom or mom ANYTHING in my book.

    That being said, I know lots of wonderful step parents (such as my husband) who are wonderful and amazing parents in every single sense of the word. To all of you, than you for your hard work and endless love!

    • Anon

      So… in my case I’m the one way younger “screwing the man twice her age” stepmom. My husband and I have been together for 7 years. His ex-wife only “allows” us to see his daughter every other weekend, if that, and only on non-holidays. So we aren’t valid parents? That’s just sad, SAD thinking.
      We’ve hired lawyers, been to court, moved our family (us and 2 little boys) so that we were only 15 minutes away, begged, pleaded, called, emailed, EVERYTHING possible to see her. But yah, not a valid parent here… nope.

    • Lala

      You’re def hurt. Lot of resentment and jealousy on your post…… I would bet money I don’t have that you create/reinforce “babymama drama.”
      Whether you like it or not, it was YOUR EX that chose this “Twinkie” to screw. After all, I’m assuming this “Twinkie” didn’t keep a gun to his head, right?
      And, again- whether you like it or not, your ex’s choices for dating a younger woman are separate from his parenting.
      He may have been a lousy spouse, but it doesn’t mean he is a terrible father.
      I think you need an attitude adjustment, this “Twinkie” may be the one tucking your precious princess to bed for a LONG time.

    • http://www.sarahcooksthebooks.com/ Sarah

      I don’t even think he necessarily has a lousy spouse. I think the original poster of the comment thread here is just bitter, and possibly jealous.

  • AmazingAsh

    I absolutely loathe my ex and his wife (my son’s step-mom), but I know she loves my son as much as humanly possible, and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I grew up as the baby of a blended family (two sisters from my mom’s first marriage, one from my dad’s). My parents split up when I was 21, and my dad’s biggest fear was that he’d lose my sisters (and their kids) because he was ‘nothing’ to them now. His fears were unfounded – my sisters love him, and as one of them puts it, “He’s not nothing, he’s my Don (my dad’s name) and he’s been a part of my life for a lot longer than most people”.

  • Lisa Judson

    When my husband and I met he told me about how he had a child (then 3, now 7). He also told me his son’s mother was “difficult”. Nothing could have prepared me for the highschool/ridiculous/cryingmyselftosleep most nights drama because she would stop at nothing to make sure her son never liked me. Four years later I am still here and our son thinks I am pretty awesome. My husband and I have never put labels on things. I have always been “Lisa” to our son. For the kids, going back and forth in a situation like ours can be emotionally draining and we never wanted to make him feel like he HAD to call me Mom/Step-mom. He has definitely put me in a mother roll when he is with us. He gives me great big hugs and says I make his chocolate milk the best. And that’s enough for me. That he is happy and stress free here. It’s not about us (even though it is a hell of a road to walk down) it’s about our kids. Whether we birthed them or not.

  • catlady

    My boyfriends son worships me, he makes me presents, draws us together with a heart between us and tells me “This is cause we’re in love, I forgot to draw my dad. Oh well.”, asks his dad if he can get me mothers day gifts, yells at his dad to “listen to catlady!” if he disagrees with me (which makes me feel terrible if I know I am in the wrong). I read these horror stories and wonder if other people with the good stories just don’t share them as much. Although he calls me his “rental mom” which is a little weird. But he’s 5, and his parents have been separated for as long as he can remember, so he’s a little confused as to my role. His mom? Yeah, she’s batshit insane and is 30 something going on 13.

  • http://www.superparentmom.com/ Karen Campos

    The number one sign I’m a stepmom is when I prepare for Christmas (or Thanksgiving or Spring Break or Summer) activities, I have to say to my husband, “Do we have Christmas week 1 or Christmas week 2 or….?” You get the idea!

  • LalaBoom

    HahAHhAHaha.. This is awesome. And so very true….
    I would add, as someone else in this thread already did, sign#2 you’re stepmom:
    Someone you have no clue about make it their life’s purpose to try and destroy yours.