Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mother's Day as a Step Mother

One of the most awesome wedding presents I got last year was my husband’s daughter became my step-daughter.  She’s this wickedly smart and funny teenager who loves Nutella and jelly beans (not mixed together) almost as much as she loves our dogs.  A friend referred to her as my “Bonus Daughter” and that label makes me smile.
That rainy day in June didn’t really change my relationship with the Bonus Daughter; she and I have been friends since she was about six years old.  In fact, she was rather annoyed when her dad and I started dating because, as she put it, I was herfriend.  And “friends” really is the best way to describe our dynamic.  I give her advice, and ask for hers at times.  I annoy her by talking about personal finance and the importance of saving money; she loses me when explaining her current quest in Skyrim.  I playfully tease her when she makes questionable fashion choices and she giggles when recanting how I closed my eyes on the Harry Potter ride at Universal.  I'm there for her on the rough days just as much as on the happy days that come with the teenage years.  Although I occasionally remind her to brush her teeth, “friend” really is the most fitting title.
Are there parenting-type responsibilities that I’ve taken on over the past two years we’ve lived together?  Sure.  But more important than driving her to and from school, helping fund Speech & Debate tournaments and trips, and teaching her to drive a stick; I try to be a good role model and example of a strong, independent, successful woman.  Sure, she sees the cushy side of my job when I work from home in yoga pants and a hoodie, but she’s also seen me travel the world on business and we’ve openly discussed frustrations and stress in my career. She sees me balance my personal life with work and my photography business and, more recently, my responsibilities here with The Kidsperts. 
There are plenty of step-moms out there who are in the full-time role of mom and I hope they are celebrated and thanked on Mother’s Day; but that’s not me and not what I need.  I have some parent-type responsibilities, but I’m not her mom.  My Bonus Daughter has a loving mother and spends every other week at her house.  But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a little recognition for my role in the village that is helping raise her to be a strong, vibrant woman. 
Clockwise from top left: Canvas photos of all the kids in the dining room, father and daughter headed into Target, walking her dad down the aisle at our wedding, me helping her put on pearls at our wedding.    
Clockwise from top left: Canvas photos of all the kids in the dining room, father and daughter headed into Target, walking her dad down the aisle at our wedding, me helping her put on pearls at our wedding.    

So what does that look like?  Even though we weren’t married yet (and I had the title of her dad’s “Special Lady Friend” instead of step-mom), last year was pretty much perfect for my needs. I received the sweetest handwritten notes from both her and my husband, thanking me for the ways I contribute to their lives and a bouquet of flowers from the supermarket.  It was a super thoughtful way of making me feel appreciated and isn’t that what any day of celebration is about? 
Join the conversation in the comments below!  What does an ideal mother’s day look like for you?  A day where you can sleep in?  Maybe opening something from our gift guide? Brunch with the important women in your life?  

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