Not the Momma :: Stepmoms are Not so Wicked After All

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If you were a kid of the 90s, you might remember the ABC sitcom, Dinosaurs, which featured an average working class pre-historic family of dinosaurs navigating the ups and downs of raising three kids. My favorite character was Baby Sinclair whose tagline was “Not the momma” every time his daddy approached him. This was usually accompanied by a whack on Dad’s head with a frying pan. Well, this image from my 11-year-old self recently popped into my head the other day when thinking of my experience as a stepmother. Okay, I’ve never actually been whacked in the head with a pan . . . maybe shot at close range a few times in the face with a Nerf gun or taken a direct hit to the head with a perfectly launched football. The fact is, I am not the momma! Yes, I may be his caregiver, homework helper, Santa Claus buyer, clothes shopper, and dinner cooker; but I will never be his mother, nor do I ever want to try to take her place. In saying all this, I do not mean that there have not been tender moments between us: the evening we stayed up way past bedtime, crossed-legged on the floor, just shooting the breeze for hours; or the time I was teary-eyed on the couch after a hard day at work, and he brought me a blanket to snuggle with just to make me feel cozy. 

Being a stepparent can be one of the most thankless jobs. You do all the work, and most often times without the reward of kisses, snuggles, and unwavering love. You do it because you love your spouse, and you have grown to love your stepchild. Let’s be honest, stepmoms have gotten a bad rap for decades. Practically every fairy tale features the villainous stepmother pitted against the virtuous stepchild. Thanks a lot, Disney!

However, with the patience of Job and time, I have learned that some issues work themselves out and others just seem to naturally fall into place. When things do not seem to be getting better on their own, never be too proud or embarrassed to reach out for help. The Birmingham area is full of wonderful family therapists that specialize in issues surrounding divorce and blended families. Of course, stepchildren will always mourn the loss of their natural birth family. Divorce is hard on everyone. I like to view myself as a “bonus parent,” and with that comes bonus siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Can we say four Christmases?!

Now, if you still feel yourself struggling and needing to be reminded that you are not alone in this journey, I highly recommend reading The Happy Stepmother: Stay Sane, Empower Yourself, Thrive in Your New Family by Rachelle Katz or Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel and Act the Way We Do by Wednesday Martin.

Although I came by this new family after many twists and turns, I would not change my life for anything. I am Mom/Stepmom to two precious boys that inspire and challenge me daily. This new little being that came into my life, not by birth but by love and choice, has already taught me so many lessons, and I look forward to a lifetime of making memories together . . . even if I am “Not the momma”.

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Virginia was raised in Anniston, AL, a small town about an hour drive from Birmingham. After graduating from Jacksonville State University with a degree in human sciences, she married her college sweetheart and spent the next decade living throughout the southeast from Charleston, SC to Atlanta, GA. Fast forward a few years, and Virginia found herself back in her hometown working full-time, single, and raising her young son. At the most unexpected time in the most unlikely of places, she met the love of her life and soul mate, and they were married in a garden wedding in Savannah, GA in 2016. Virginia now calls Trussville home with her husband, Mark, and their two boys, Britton (7) and stepson, Gavin (10). Virginia works as a Employment Resource Specialist for the Alabama Department of Mental Health. She loves Hello Fresh, Starbuck's Green Tea Frappucinos, exercising, camping (more to the point, glamping), renovating their new home, and any occasion that lets her play dress up!!

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