Mother’s Day is a day we celebrate mothers. I have three children who are now adults and two step-kids who are teens. I also have a two-year-old grandson. I’ve been a mother of one kind or another, for almost 30 years.
Being a stepmother has given me a very different perspective on motherhood. It’s a role where you love, care for and raise kids as a mother does, but you don’t have as much say. With my biological children, I had full control over parental decisions--from where they went to school to what sports they played. It was my decision.
As a stepmother, I love, care for and help to raise my two stepsons, without the same say or control. The boys have a wonderful, loving biological mother. They live with her half of the time and with their dad and I the other half of the time.
In my household I parent with their dad. He coordinates with their mom. Decisions about their activities, school, etc., are up to their mom and their dad. Most of the time their dad and I see eye to eye on decisions, but sometimes we don’t, and I have to take a step back. Sometimes their mom and I see eye to eye and their dad doesn’t, and I have to take a step back.
At the same time, I’m there in the trenches with these kids. I’ve cleaned their wounds, and I’ve spent countless hours learning how to do their math so that I could help them. I’ve lost sleep, and I’ve dried their tears. These are all the things that a mom does, but without the decision-making power. That power is not mine, because they have both their parents, equally active in their lives, which is a blessing.
It took me awhile to get the hang of this. In doing so, I learned something incredible. I learned what it means to love without a safety net. As a biological mother, there was never a risk of not having my kids in my life. My role in their lives was solidified because I gave birth to them. On top of that, the law gave me rights over them.
With my stepsons, this is not the case. If their dad and I split up, I have no claim to these kids, despite our years together. I’ve learned to love them without the safety net a biological mother would have.
Being a stepmother has taught me what it means to love without expectation. It’s an incredibly freeing feeling. Being a stepmother has shown me that I’m capable of love without ownership, if that makes sense. Being a stepmother has taught me that I can be an important influence, even if I’m not calling the shots.
Happy Mother’s Day to every type of mother.
Local media maven Natalie Webster specializes in experiences that often push her outside of her comfort zone, and helps others stretch themselves, too.