For the last two years of my stepmotherhood, we have tried to figure out a good way to celebrate Mother’s Day. Tim took the kids to pick out fresh flowers, one of my favorite things. They signed sweet cards. But it always felt a little bit awkward.
When Yoseph’s class hosted a Mother’s Day tea, his mom immediately invited me to participate. But I declined. The kids should not have to share a special tea or art project gift for Mother’s Day. Splitting that specialness between me and the woman who raised them for years before I was ever in the picture just isn’t right. One can’t compare my role in their lives to the woman who traveled to foreign countries to bring them home, the woman who stayed up late with them while they were teething or colicky, and the woman who spent days potty training and helping them learn their ABCs.
Recognizing the Role
That is not to minimize the role that I play. On the contrary I believe I play a significant role in their lives–but let’s recognize what that role is. It is a supplemental, bonus role. Well we may strive for mother/father time to be divided 50-50, mother and stepmother roles are not and should not be 50-50.
Don’t get me wrong; I love them like crazy. And I believe they love me, too. I am the one they want when they wake up in the middle of the night with a nightmare. I am the one they ask about staying home when they’re sick (I no longer have any squeamishness about being vomited on). I am responsible for keeping school uniforms clean and healthy lunches packed. I make sure the socks and underwear in their drawers don’t get too ratty and that bathing suits fit. I am also responsible for making sure every fun movie is on the calendar and that we attend all of the opening weekends that we can. I plan family vacations to the beach and to Disney. And I make sure there are always sprinkles for the ice cream in the freezer.
Rethinking the Recognition
Mother’s Day is not for me. It shouldn’t be. But that’s not to say that I don’t serve a mother-type role in their lives and that I shouldn’t be recognized for it. But why compete with the day on which they should be recognizing and thanking their mom? Therefore, I propose a new holiday…Stepmom Day. I suggest that it be today, the Sunday after Mother’s Day. It gives moms their own special day and takes the heat off of kids who may feel pressured to share school art projects with handprints or to create two hand-drawn cards.
Let’s recognize the very different roles that moms and stepmoms play in their children’s lives and celebrate them accordingly. So on Mother’s Day, I will celebrate my mom and her incredible example of devotion, commitment, altruism, and more. And I will celebrate my mother-in-law, who raised a man who is completely devoted to me and our kids and who has shown me love from the beginning. And today, Stepmom Day, we celebrated with thoughtful gifts, a lunch of my choosing (cheeseburgers on the grill), and sweet cards. As a matter of fact, Ana’s card declared me, “The funnest stepmom I ever had”. Enough said.