Step Talk with Alexandra Mortensen

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This month we celebrated the most awkward day of the year for stepmoms—Mother’s Day. First and foremost, I’d like to give a shoutout to all the incredible women out there taking on the rewarding, challenging and oh-so-complex role of being a mom. I hope you celebrated your day with breakfast in bed, a glass (or two) of champagne and a spa appointment, because you truly deserve it.

For the stepmoms, I hope you survived the day without crying into a glass of champagne. I’d guess this day isn’t quite so awkward if you’re a stepmom who also has her own child. You’re a stepmom, but you’re also undisputedly a mom. For those of us who are only stepparents, this day isn’t just awkward, it can be downright heartbreaking.

It’s the day of the year where you’re reminded that no matter how many dinners you make, toilets you clean, and practices you chauffer, you’re not the mom and you never will be.

Every Mother’s Day since I became a stepmom I’ve been celebrated by my husband and stepsons. It’s really sweet and I know I’m lucky. I do. However, it’s such a double-edged sword, because if they didn’t do anything for me, it would really hurt my feelings, but being celebrated feels awkward and weirdly stirs up painful feelings.

It’s almost like a window into what it would be like if I was a mom. “Oh, it would feel like this, except that we’d have an indescribable bond and I wouldn’t be fighting back tears knowing that they’ll be calling the person who does absolutely nothing for them to also wish her a happy day.”

I know it’s an exacerbated situation for me because I’m dealing with stepping in for an absentee parent, but even if you’re a stepmom who has her stepkids a percentage of the time, you experience the same pain. You’re not trying to take anything away from the mom. You just want to be included.

Isn’t that the overarching motto of stepparenting in general? “We’re not trying to take anything away from anyone, we just want to be included!”

I know I’m complaining and I don’t want to give stepmoms a bad rap for being selfish. We do know that at the end of the day it’s first and foremost about the kids, but this column is a safe place for stepparents to be real and honest. Every other day of the year we’re there giving love, feeling worry and trying our best, but then on this day we feel like we’re supposed to be seen and not heard—and that hurts.

So, what did I do for Mother’s Day this year? I hopped on the yearly emotional rollercoaster that only I knew I was on while my family celebrated me. Then, I turned my attention to celebrating my amazing mom. Overall it was a good day, and I did enjoy some champagne—no tears included.

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