I just read a story about a news interview where Kerry Washington very politely responded to a reporter who said Kerry was a “mother of two” (referring to her two biological children) by saying that she was actually “a mother of three.”
I saw an interview with Kelly Clarkson where she kindly added “We also have a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old” when the show host only mentioned her two biological children.
This is the future, y’all. Stepmothers are here and we’re not going to let you discount our stepkids.
To be clear, I think it’s totally fine if stepmoms are more comfortable saying they have x amount of children and x amount of stepchildren. That’s great! We wear the “step” badge proudly in our house and have not an ounce of shame about it.
But I do think it’s totally awesome that these high-profile women are going on the record as being parents to these children. They’re not ignoring the misstep and moving on. They’re not “being polite” and letting it go. They are proudly claiming these children as an important part of their family, and rightfully so.
Because stepparents are parents. Our very own brand of parent, sure, but parents nonetheless.
And, if we feel comfortable with it and our family members feel comfortable with it, we’re going to claim those kids.
I personally always answer the “Do you have kids?” question with “Yes, I have a stepdaughter” (and then proceed to gush about her for the next twenty minutes, naturally).
For me – for us – that is the best response.
I don’t think “stepdaughter” or “stepmom” are bad words and I refuse to treat them as such, so that’s what works for us. But I also won’t allow anyone to deny me my family or pretend that Jess is anything less than mine in all the ways that matter.
I’m sick and tired of stepfamilies being erased or being discounted or being hidden.
The way people talk about it, my entire amazing, beautiful, phenomenal family could be defined as “broken” and although I’m not ever going to deny the pain and hurt that comes to all parties with a divorce, to hear things like that all the time can make you feel like your family is seen as less than others.
Less valid. Less important. Less real.
And I think that’s part of why people do hide it. Or feel like they have to. Or feel like they should.
But you should never feel like you have to hide.
Being a stepparent is nothing, and I mean nothing, to be ashamed of.
You chose to step up and step into a role that I can guarantee was five thousand times harder than you ever knew it could be.
You took a breath and took a chance and you stayed.
You chose to join this family – with all of the hurt and the history and the pain and the joys and the struggles already inside it – and you stepped in and you made yourself vulnerable and you took the bad with the good so that you could be a part of all of it.
Hey world: Stepmoms are here, y’all.
We’re here and we’re not going anywhere, so you’d better get used to it.
We’re not broken, we’re not ashamed, and we most certainly refuse to be hidden.