Step Mothers Day……A Reflection
I laughed the other day when my stepson was on the phone to one of his friends and I pulled the car into the garage and he said to his friend, “Hey, the stepmother is home”. It was a term of affection, as most of the time I am referred to by my first name with the kids. We don’t use the phrase step mum much in our house but the boys use it to reference me to their friends. Even before I married their father, they referred to me as their step mum, as it was easier to describe me in that role. Easier than “my dad’s girlfriend”…..especially as they are teenagers and their dad SO does not have a girlfriend. I find it fascinating that we so often need to label someone, to help explain the relationship or role of a person. It is not always right but it is certainly easier sometimes, particularly for kids where information is just a hurdle to having fun.
I don’t see myself as a step mum. I do see myself as a person who loves and cares for three young men. I see myself as someone who can role model for them, listen and guide them and laugh with them. We have good times and we have challenging times. Sometimes I feel really connected with them and sometimes less so. I have no children of my own, so I am only guessing this is how it feels to be a parent.
I was not always so comfortable with who I am around the boys. And they have not always felt so comfortable around me. Step parenting takes time. Getting to know someone takes time. Getting to know someone that has a direct comparison to an existing person, takes more time. Naturally the boys were going to compare me to their mum, it was what they knew and understood. However, by using time and patience to get to know me and me taking my own risks in opening up, we connected. Not all at the same time and not all on the same things but each of us connected in our own way.
I remember a coaching session I had about 12 months ago where my coach suggested I stop calling the three young men in my life, “the boys”, as I was grouping them together, like a gang. By grouping them I was taking a blanket approach to my interactions and connections with them. It was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got as a step mum. The reason I had started my relationship with them as a gang, was because when the three boys came to stay with us; they came together, when they left; they left together. To assume each of these boys were the same and should be interacted in the same way, is actually something that grates on my values. As I hold dear and true that everyone is their own person and we should respect each person for who they are.
Although their gang is the coolest, fiercest and strongest gang going around, each member still needed love, support, interest and boundaries. I reflect on the immeasurable shift in my relationship with these three lovely boys when I unpacked each member and connected with each of them on their own level. I am truly lucky to have them this Mothers Day.
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