Today I have a snapper who has asked me to share this beautifully written piece about stepmothers and their children on her behalf. So we have a guest post! I am a stepmother, so this hits near and dear to my heart. Get your tissues ready, this is both poignant and beautiful. Hope you enjoy! And be sure and comment to encourage this brave lady to start her very own blog, so we can follow her!
Thank you for making me smile, and for lighting my world with your hugs and kisses and your calls for me when I leave your sight. Thank you for every silly secret, every laugh, and every moment that you have given me that I never thought I would want or need or grow to cherish. Thank you for loving me.
I feel like I know you, but at the same time like you’re a stranger. You’re only three, almost four, although you deny to your bones that you’ll ever be anything but “THREE”. It’s your favorite number. Elsa is your favorite person, kitties are your favorite pets, and Clifford and George are tied for your favorite imaginary animals. Your favorite book is the Man in the Moon, and your favorite food is spaghetti. You also love chicken sandwiches. Your favorite color was pink until last month, then suddenly it was yellow. When I asked you why it changed, your answer broke my heart just a little bit. Because Mommy loves it.
Sometimes you mistakenly call me Mommy, occasionally you call me by my first name, but mostly you call me Stepmommy. I’ve been here since before you could talk. I helped potty train you. I helped teach you your numbers and letters. I’m teaching you to read. I’m teaching you to count. I taught you how to say please, thank you, you’re welcome, and excuse me. I taught you how to climb. I’m teaching you how to walk confidently, to speak your mind, and to respect yourself. But I’m not really Mommy. You’ve informed me of this. I’m “Just Stepmommy.”
I don’t fault you for that. How could I? I know in my heart that there’s no way you’d know the difference if someone hadn’t told you. I’m the one that’s loved your Daddy since you can remember. I’m the one who’s kissed the booboos and sang the lullabies and served the breakfasts lunches and dinners and dispensed the medicine and tucked in the sheets and cleaned up the sick and answered the questions since before you could speak. I’ve been here more than half your life. Why would I be “Just Stepmommy”? Why is there a hierarchy of matriarchy in your young mind? It’s not because you don’t love me. It’s not because you don’t like me. The shine in your eyes and the squeal in your voice when you see me in the mornings or greet me after work belie that theory. Someone told it to you, and that’s not your fault.
But I know you love me. And hopefully, you know I love you. What I see when I look at you is a stranger, but a stranger that I would do anything to protect and to nurture. You are my sunshine and my days are all clouds when you and your brother are not home. But you are both strangers. I hold your hand, and feel beyond fortunate that these little, tiny, perfectly formed fingers nestle so snuggly in my palm. And for a moment, I am happy. And then, I wonder what those little fingers felt like the first day they felt another hand? How fragile you must have been in your first days here on earth! How you must have needed someone to hold you, to feed you, to clothe and bathe and protect you. You still need those things, but from a distance, because I’m teaching you to be your own little woman, to be self-reliant, to be “Strong and Super”, instead of “Cute and Pretty”. (You are cute and pretty. Cuter and prettier than any other little girl I’ve ever laid eyes upon.) And when I watch you while you sleep, so little, but legs and arms so long, you remind me of a foal, I watch as you turn in your sleep, and kick your long little legs just like your Daddy does in his sleep, and I wonder, did you kick before you were born? What would we be if we had ever shared that closeness?
Every time you recount a trip to the doctor, I listen intently, carefully, hanging on each word. And I ask myself, were you really sick, or were you craving attention? If you really were sick, did you ask for me when you felt so bad? Did you even want me? Did you even think of me? Or am I really “Just Stepmommy”? Just a passable stand-in while the real deal enjoys her free nights? But I listen, and I ask the right questions to move the story along. And I congratulate you on your bravery against all the shots and all the doctors in the world.
We talk at night, and you tell me stories about monsters and bears, and how your Daddy will always save you, and I smile, and I contribute, and I listen to every word. You tell me things I don’t understand, and things that sound like what they shouldn’t. I help you with the words you can’t remember, can’t pronounce, and together we tell awesome stories. I read to you, and I speak to you clearly, hoping that every sleepless night I’ve spent at the computer researching speech development and therapy was for something. I make new games each week to practice our letters and our sounds and our words. We’ve made it to two syllables, and some favorite three syllable words are only slightly butchered. Your speech is improved so much in the last year, and I am so very very proud of you. But I wonder, if I had been along for the all along, would you have been so far behind at nearly 3? You’re almost 4 now, and we’ve gone from grunts and points to nonsense stories and only a quarter of the words are made up. I hope I’m doing well. I hope you’re learning and growing. I hope you’ll be smart.
I take you out, to the library, to see my grandmother, we take walks around the neighborhood, and when you speak to strangers, I translate. I rephrase. I correct. I make sure that you heard every word the way it normally sounds so hopefully eventually you pick it up in the ways that my coaching fails you. And I wonder, is there something more I could do?
You go into dazes, you refuse to look me in the eyes, even when you’re telling me a story. All I want in this world at those moments is for you to make eye contact, to stop looking at the floor, to stop looking at the wall, to stop averting your gaze, and for a while I wondered, do you only do it to me? But I’ve watched. It’s always. And then I wonder, if I had the right to take you to a doctor, would they confirm my worst nightmares? But I remember, I do not have that right. All I can do is hope and coach and try to teach and all I can do is expose you to the elements and hope you come away from it with something meaningful. Those are my only rights because I am “Just Stepmommy.”
You tell me that you love your Mommy, that you miss her, that you’re waiting for her to come home. And every week, when she fails to do that for long enough for you to forget, you cry when she takes you away from us. Away from me. I don’t tell you this, but I cry, too. When you and your brother are gone with your Real Mommies, I lie in my bed and I cry for you. Because I miss you. I’m in love with you little monsters, you little animals, you little angels. I love you so much that my heart breaks for you every week when you are, figuratively, ripped away from my side. I’ve grown so attached to you two in the last year, that sometimes I wonder if it’s not superficial. If it’s not too early to acknowledge it. But you two are a part of me that burns with excitement and pride when I watch you be yourselves, and burns with searing pain when I realize that there is no little girl or boy to share my meals, or prattle on about something I do not understand.
Sometimes I think about having my own children, I fantasize about sleepless nights that are all my own, that I don’t share with someone else. I dream about the logistics of daily care and the burden of diapers and feeding and carrying and teaching. I long for the opportunity to satiate that desire to be someone’s one and only. And I hate myself for wanting it. And sometimes, in the deepest darkest most guilty parts of my heart, I resent you for that. Your love put that desire in me where it never was before. Your smile drew me into a form of love that I never knew. Your absence showed me the hole that never was supposed to be uncovered in my heart. And your youth and need and chokehold on your father’s heart prevents me from having any real hope that I will ever be whole. You break me, and every week, as soon as I learn to love my lot in life, as soon as I accept that I am and always will be “Just Stepmommy”, you’re taken away from me again, and then I’m just nothing. Just alone in a house that needs cleaned again with no little monsters to mess it up for days. Alone in a home with quiet walls and doors and empty rooms. Alone in a place littered with toys and no one to play with them.
And then I wonder, how much must your Real Mommy hurt when you’re with me? This woman who stepped into your life with no explanation, no excuse, and, almost instantly, won your adoration and affection, your smiles and your kisses, your giggles and your shrieks, your accidental “Mommy” words? How could she ever forgive me for filling a role she was supposed to be the only one to fill? If I were in her shoes, I would hate the Stepmommy for that. And I would try to be nice, and I would try to listen to the stories, and I would try to accept the fact that, through nobody’s fault, things are just how they are. But I can understand why maybe, just this once, she slipped up and said to her little princess with a mind like a sponge, who is learning to speak and address people and understand the complex world and relationships around her, that I am “Just Stepmommy”. And, while it breaks my heart, I can understand it.
My dearest, darling daughter, I hope you never have to read this letter, I hope that everything is always as good as it is now or better. But if you do, what I want you to know is this: To you, I may be “Just Stepmommy”, but to me, you are not “Just my Stepdaughter”, you are my Daughter yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever after that.
An anonymous post written by a beautiful lady. Thank you for selecting me to share it with the world!