It was August 1995 when I first met Nancy. My parents hadn’t been divorced long and the wounds were still fresh. When they moved in together, I decided to pull out my best brat ammo. I vividly remember whipping out the old “you’re not my mom” response when she told me to get a shower one day. Real classy. Despite my feistiness, she loved me. She leaned in to nourish our relationship and, before long, she became my best friend.
Her position was unique. She had the authority of an adult, but was allowed in the “friend zone,” from which my parents were forbidden. We talked about boys, puberty, and life decisions. Nancy was the buffer when I was caught smoking cigarettes in the attic. She comforted me during custody battles and shielded me from ugly parental disagreements. She didn’t shy away from my tough questions and listened to my fears. We walked together through losing my grandmother and had cute nicknames for each other like “Step-monster” and “Doodle.” She was my confidant, who offered a safe space with experience and wisdom; kind of a cross between older sister, friend, and mom.
In 2010, as I prepared for life with my husband, the marriage between my dad and stepmom came to an abrupt end. It was messy and painful. It almost always is. The wounds from my parent’s divorce reopened in a whole new way. I cried. I lost weight. I mourned like I’d never mourned before. I saw divorce through the lens of an adult, and it hurt more than I expected.
Being a stepmom is 100 shades of complicated. I can only imagine how intimidating it is to be tossed into a family established by other people. To love someone’s child as your own. To walk the line between friend and authoritative adult. Wherever you are in your blended family journey, please know, from an adult stepchild, you are important. The unique role you play today will impact your child’s future self. Lean in, stay strong, and keep the course. Your steadfastness will reap a great harvest.
If your kid has a step-mom, don’t be scared. This woman will not take your place. Your role is irreplaceable. Besides, fighting their relationship will only hurt your relationship with your children. Of course, I don’t know your story. Maybe your child’s stepmother isn’t a great one. Maybe she’s even an unhealthy one. But as long as she is a safe person, your child will be blessed by her influence. I’m so thankful my mom
allowed encouraged me to love my stepmom without fear.
Seven years later, Nancy is no longer my step-monster, by legal terms anyway. Even so, nothing will change the person she was to me all those years ago. Nor will it change the way her presence shaped who I am today. When we say “it takes a village,” stepparents aren’t exactly the village we envision, but they are a very realistic addition and should be celebrated for the unique qualities they bring to the table.
Did a stepparent have a positive influence on your life?