stepmother: a woman who has married one’s father after the death or divorce of one’s mother ~thefreedictionary.com
We need a new word! The word stepmother needs to be updated to be more inclusive of the actual role. We all know what kind of images the word stepmom conjures in our head. The problem is a stepmom used to be the woman who stepped in, in place of the mother when the mother had passed away. Nowadays stepmoms are not replacing but are usually co-parenting with the moms. Often this co-parenting is not a mutually agreed upon or wanted arrangement between to the 2 women. It is a situation thrust upon the original/birth mom by the father/ex-husband who has chosen to marry a new woman, inviting her in to his children’s lives without the consent of the birth mother at all.
As the birth mother you suddenly find yourself sharing the responsibilities and decisions made about your children with another woman. This can be a very frustrating and threatening position to be in.
As the stepmom, you suddenly find yourself caring for another woman’s children. You may even love these children like they are your own but the fact is, they are not. These kids have a mother, and they most likely will remind you of this on a regular basis. You may care for them, sacrifice for them and give everything to them but when mother’s day comes along you may not even get acknowledged.
It is a painful situation for both women. The birth mother may feel insecure that her kids won’t love her as much as they love the new stepmom who may be younger and hipper and charming the kids with new toys and clothes.
The problem with the word stepmom is the word no longer fits. You are not stepping in for the mother. You very likely may be stepping on the mother’s feelings and this is probably why the word stepmom still carries such a negative association.
Unfortunately, in all my research, I have not been able to come up with a new word. I met a woman today who refuses to use the word stepmom because of the rotten connotation associated with it but this unfortunately leaves her in a place of pain. There is no word to describe her relationship with these kids. No acknowledgment of all that she has done and does do for these kids that she loves.
Please help me think of new word, a loving, positive one that could describe the actual role of a stepmom.