Mother’s Day as a Stepmom in a 3-Mom Household
Mother’s Day is undoubtedly one of the most complicated days of the year for stepmoms. In my community, I see so many questions and expressions of pain and confusion flooding the discussion boards.
Stepmoms with tense relationships with the ex are wondering if they should rise above the conflict and help their stepkids shop for their mom.
They thoughtfully select gifts or help their stepkids create Pinterest perfect crafts, made with love for Mom. Stepmoms with no “ours” babies are feeling isolated and left out of the celebration for moms when they love their stepkids and work just as hard for them as any biological mother does.
This holiday is tough for us, no matter our family structure.
But it’s a little bit different for me.
To be honest, as a stepmom in an LGBTQ household, I have struggled with this holiday more than any other, for some reasons that might surprise you.
In a 3-mom household, Mother’s Day is a layered, complex holiday. It shouldn’t be, but for me, it’s still one of those stepmom triggers I am working to look at honestly and try to deal with in a way that feels right for all of us.
You see, for my wife and her ex, becoming parents together was an incredibly intentional thing that required an abundance of work, planning, and preparation. We women are, by and large, planners, right? So when two women decide to do the whole baby thing, well, you could say some thought goes into it.
For them, Mother’s Day has always been a way for Mommy and Mama to thank one another for both being my stepdaughter’s mothers.
It’s a token of acknowledgment for going through the adoption journey together. For painstakingly selecting the nursery details, getting the exhaustive list of legal approvals checked off and passed, for waiting on pins and needles with the adoption process was finalized states away. For navigating all of the hills and valleys that stood between deciding to have a baby and holding that little redhead for the first time.
I am the parent too.
Yes, I am absolutely my stepdaughter’s parent too, and I am celebrated along with Mommy and Mama for Mother’s Day.
My wife helps my stepdaughter plan the sweetest little surprises, and she loves getting to celebrate all three of her mommies on this holiday. Mother’s Day does not feel complicated because of my stepdaughter. She’s thoughtful, generous, kind, and really loves to take the time to carefully craft something distinct for each of us. Mother’s Day feels complicated because of me. Because I feel jealous.
There’s something about the fact that my wife’s ex still feels the need to gift her something on Mother’s Day even though it’s something I already do as her current (and forever) partner.
It feels like an ode to something that doesn’t exist anymore — a tribute to a bond between two of them that used to be intimate is now severed. I should be the gift giver on behalf of my stepdaughter for my wife, for my house. That’s how I have felt. Some of you might empathize with me, nodding your heads in solidarity over my claim on gift-giving rights.
Others might be judging me, deeming me self-absorbed and petty.
My feelings are okay.
Both are unfair assessments, but both are correct. The thing is, I do understand. I get the need to say thank you to the person you chose to have a child with. I respect that the kind of bond they have cannot completely be broken or replaced. They became parents together. They chose to have a child together.
That’s something my wife and her ex forged as one and should forever love one another for. I mean, they brought my beautiful, generous stepdaughter here, for me to love too. I’m thankful to them as a couple for doing that.
I feel jealous. I feel humbled. And, I feel gratitude.
I feel so many things simultaneously on Mother’s Day every year. On my third Mother’s Day as a stepmom in a 3-mom household, I’m deciding that these feelings are all okay.
They’re part of the experience. I share this day with two other women in my family, and we might all feel a little bit jealous and frustrated a whole lot grateful. And isn’t that constant jumble of emotions exactly what motherhood is supposed to be?