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As my stepdaughter K and I peruse the produce at the supermarket, a sweet older lady looks at me with a gleam in her eye and tells me my daughter is beautiful.

My daughter. Uh oh. I had no part in her genetic makeup that makes her beautiful. Do I need to clarify this is my stepdaughter? Does it matter? Does she know Kevin or Amanda, K’s biological parents? Is there a chance she knows their families? Will I ever see her again? If not, then I’ll just accept the compliment and move on.

Perhaps I’m a chronic overthinker. What’s the harm in letting her think K is my daughter? Besides, it feels kind of nice to be considered part of the Mom Club.

I’m tired of pretending I don’t enjoy when strangers mistake me for my stepdaughter’s mom.

Call it selfish, deceptive, or conniving, but I’m tired of pretending I don’t enjoy when a stranger mistakes me for my stepdaughter’s mom. I’m happy you’ve mistaken me as her mom; it means I must be doing something right. I won’t correct you unless you need to know the details of my family dynamic because I’m jealous, in need of a little appreciation, thankful that I’m doing it right, and I love her like my own. If I’ll never see you again, I’ll say thank you and walk away appreciating your kindness.

*To be clear, anyone that I could possibly run into again (e.g., dance moms, PTA and school staff, or parents of her school friends) or is in any way connected to either of my little girl’s families is not considered a “stranger” for the purpose of this argument.*

I’m a little jealous.

Of course I’m jealous that someone else birthed this beautiful, brilliant little girl. Don’t we all want to take credit for something wonderful in this world? As strictly a stepmom to K with no children of my own, my world revolves around her and her daddy. I give her my all, but she’s still not mine. So occasionally when someone doesn’t know better and calls me her mom, I savor it.

I want a little appreciation.

Stepparents don’t get appreciated often. Yes, I knew that when I started dating her dad and when I married him. But it doesn’t change the fact that I still want a little appreciation for what I do. Is that so wrong?

I bathe, clothe, feed, play with, read to, and teach life lessons to my little one, just as a biological parent does. I go to work to provide for her, I help with homework, and I make dinner and prepare lunches…

So when a stranger mistakenly calls me Mom and I can take a little credit for my part in raising her (even if it’s not as her mom), I feel appreciated. 

I want a little validation I’m doing it right.

One of the hardest parts about being a stepparent without any children of your own is jumping right into the parenting role without reading any of the books or getting any of the pep talks from friends and family beforehand. I had no idea how to raise a child when I started.

Other parents are so quick to shame about car seats, nutrition, and education, but I wasn’t given a manual to learn all of this! I was thrown a 4-year-old and told “Good luck!”–obviously her father was there with me, and he took the lead on raising her. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled to catch up on the parenting learning curve.

When a stranger mistakenly calls me “Mom” in the supermarket or at the mall, it’s validation that I’m doing it right. Or I at least look right when I’m doing it.

I love her as my own (more than just a little).

Of course I love this little girl, and of course I’m so thankful to be one of her moms. She has both Mommy and Mama K that love her to pieces. I have a role that is specific to me; it’s not a role that replaces the crucial role her mom plays, but it’s a role that is in addition to that role. She’s my stepdaughter, and I’d give my life for hers without hesitating. That’s all that a stranger needs to know. A stranger doesn’t need to know that I am Mama K instead of Mommy; honestly, that person in the supermarket or at the mall probably doesn’t care and just wanted to tell me my stepdaughter is cute.

When strangers mistake me for my step daughter's mom

I’m happy you think she’s mine.

I work everyday to make sure my stepdaughter knows she’s loved. If you have mistaken me for her mom, that means I’m showing her the love and respect a daughter deserves. I may not have given birth to her, but I will still do my very best to help give her a wonderful life. I may have missed the first 4.75 years of her life, but I’ll make up for it in the next 80+.

I still have the utmost respect for her mom’s role in her life and I’ll continue to correct those that need to know I’m not the biological parent, but to all of the strangers that mistake me for her mom, thank you.


8 Responses

  1. simplegirl74

    I was a step daughter. At the time when she and I met I was twelve. I called her mum, not mom but mum. I loved her from the start. However, when people would refer to me she would instantly go into the details of everything. “Oh, no she’s my husbands daughter from another marriage blah blah blah.” A stranger that hands you a compliment or a few nice words in passing is really not looking for answers. My Half sister at the time was two so all I could think of is maybe she worried people would think at almost 40 that people would think she had me at close to 30 LOL. The horror;) .

    • Kristen

      That’s such a great perspective, Jenn! I would never want to hurt my stepdaughter if it came off like I didn’t want her to be mine or love her like she was my own.

  2. Amanda

    You are absolutely a mom for her! You contribute to making her a beautiful person everyday you care for her and pour you love on to her. Sure you can’t take credit for her biology, but that’s the least of what makes a parent. It’s being present in her life day in and day out without fail that gives you the right to be called a mom. Yes she has a fantastic biological mom too and that is a wonderful thing! I know her mom appreciates the love that you give to her daughter when she can’t be with her. You will never replace her mom but that’s never been the goal. But don’t sell yourself short either you are a mom to that little girl. When she grows up she will recognize that as well. The more people we have who love us in life the better! It takes 2 pretty special mature women to work together as parents to the same child. Good job ladies you rock at momming this little girl!

    • Kristen

      Thank you so much, Amanda! You are so sweet. We definitely appreciate your support, and I’m so glad our relationship inspires others.


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