The Stepmom Letters: This is hard.

Dear J,

I love you so much.  You are growing into such a hilarious, kind, talented person and I'm so thankful to know you.

But you know what lady?  This. Is. Hard.

Being a stepmom is absolutely, 100% the hardest thing I've ever done.

And you, my dear - you don't even make it particularly difficult.  You are helpful and honest and playful and we have a great time.  Of course, we are not without our disagreements, you and I, but I always feel like we can talk about problems when they arise. Help each other to communicate just a little bit better.

But J, all the love in the world will not make me your mother.  All the love in the universe and the stars and every single planet out there cannot do that.  I am your "stepmom."

"Step."

And according to society, that translates to "Not real," "not legitimate," "not normal."  Anyone can say it's not true, but unless they've lived it I don't think they get to make that determination.

And most days it's okay with me.  It is what it is.  I don't need to be your mother, I can just be the best person I can be. The best support system, the best friend, the best influence I can be and it'll all work out.

And I know that.  I know that not being related to you doesn't mean I'm not important to you.  I know that not being related to you doesn't mean I'm not raising you.

Being related to you isn't anything until some days it feels like everything.

It's subtle, but it's there.

The discomfort when I sit through a performance of Cinderella and note how many times they talk about the evil stepmother.  The side-eye I get from other parents at school functions.  The times when I hear people basically say stepdads are saints and stepmoms are selfish brats.

It's in the deep breath I take before your Daddy introduces me to anyone. It's in the moment of trepidation when I see a piece of homework with "My Family" on the top.  It's in the anxiety I feel on Mother's Day when moms get free ice cream (And do I count or am I lying?  And my brain can't stop asking questions as I stumble with my words to the poor high school girl behind the counter.)

On the day-to-day I can not take all of the credit and I wouldn't want to - your Dad and your grandparents do a TON of work raising you and they deserve more than a ton of praise for that.  But I help, too.  I do.  And especially now that Daddy and I are married, he calls you "ours."  When I feel stressed about my role or where I fit in, he always says that.  He always says that we're a family and that's what's most important.

And it's true.

And I change my life and I change my days and my schedule is no longer mine and yet you aren't either.

And I know that children aren't possessions, so that shouldn't even be something I'm thinking, but it is.

I know it shouldn't invade my thoughts, but it has.

I know it shouldn't matter, but it does.

And none of this is on you, my dear.  You are just you.  You just keep living your life and being hilarious and singing your face off to Adele in the car, okay?

You're what makes it worth it.

You and your dad are what make all of this craziness and anxiety and doubt worth it.

I love you, precious girl, and I know we will make all of this work somehow.

My Family

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