Category Archives: stepmoms


Other Mothers – Chapter 1 – My Story – Part 2

Chapter 1 – My Story (Part 2)
I am the other mother.
(Read Part 1 here.)

I am the other mother.

For years, I have been trying to come up with a word to define, to label my situation so others would understand but I have not come up with anything. Many people want to tell me I am the stepmom. This bugs me for many reasons: First, I am not the stepmom, their dad’s wife is. I don’t think of myself as the stepmom because I have to deal with the stepmom, the one who has influence over the father’s decisions. Second, stepmom has a negative connotation and I don’t want to be labeled as something negative. Lastly, when I am introduced as the stepmom people automatically assume I am married to the dad, I am not. I realize I am obsessing over this label issue but it really has been a struggle for me.

Sometimes I try to identify with being a stepmom and do things like read Stepmom Magazine. The first line of the article I read today started with “Women who are in love with men who have children…” I didn’t finish reading the article. Although, I do like this quote, “It is imperative that we undergo a cultural shift that creates a new standard for stepmothers, ONE THAT IS LESS INFLUENCED BY DISNEY INSPIRED EVIL STEPMOTHER MYTHS and more reflective of the fantastic, loving women who are willing to … step into a ready made family with the man she loves.” (2013 Stepmom Magazine, November)

Being in a same-sex relationship in the 1990’s and early 2000’s and living in San Francisco placed us in the center of the marriage equality movement. We were always “out” about our relationship because we believed as parents, it was important to be honest and tell the truth. How could we raise children to be honest, proud human beings if we would have lied about our relationship to society? I understand in the past and in other places outside of San Francisco it can still be very dangerous to be out of the closet but here in San Francisco the main risk of being out of the closet is other people’s judgments, ignorant and hurtful remarks. You learn to grow a thick skin and a sense of humor.

When Gavin Newsome first allowed same-sex couples to get married in San Francisco our friends were calling us and pressuring us to go down to city hall to get married. We were completely overwhelmed with parenting, working full time and dealing with the family drama that often comes with divorced families. We didn’t have the time or the energy to be the leaders of the marriage equality movement. We were just trying to get through each day. I thank the many gay couples who were there, lining up at city hall making a statement. We did finally end up getting married, the weekend before Obama was elected President for his first term. Like Ellen, I didn’t have any intention of being a gay activist. However, being out since the 90s and being gay made me an activist by default. It also turned me into a teacher. I’ve learned over the years that being out and being honest has opened the minds and hearts of a lot of people who thought being gay was wrong, a sin or something disgusting. I remember when I decided to come out to the virtual community in 2006. I was in a small online business networking group. The group consisted of women from all over the US and a few from other countries.

There was a ‘getting to know you’ thread where we all shared about our personal lives. Things like our age, our marital status, how many kids we had, where we lived, etc. Many of the women in this group were proud Christians. You know the kind of Christians who bring up the words Jesus or the Lord randomly in conversations that have nothing to do with what you were talking about. Those type of Christians, the kind living in the south who had never met a gay person before. To say the least I was pretty much terrified when I saw that getting to know you thread. It flashed through my mind that I could ignore the thread but that would have stood out because there were less than 50 people in the group. I could have left the group. I could have answered the questions in a roundabout way. My heart started racing. It was going to be my first time coming out online. I typed up my answers: 3 kids, live in California, blah blah blah, when I got to the married question I put something like my partner is a woman and we have been together for X number of years. My hands literally trembled as I hit send. I even cried a few tears because I loved this group of women and I was afraid I was going to lose them. But what happened next was astounding, women started sending me private messages telling me they thought I was brave, saying they had never met a gay person but always wanted to, said their parents hated gay people but they didn’t, others told me about their sisters, brothers, cousins and even moms that were gay. What I realized is that what people really want is honesty. They want to be real. They want to feel connected. They want to be accepted. By me sharing my story, it opened a crack for them to share theirs. It was amazing. It was also very healing for me. I got to know some very conservative, Christian women that were more accepting and loving than some of my so called liberal friends. It blew my stereotypes to bits and opened my guarded heart to Christians again. I had been so deeply hurt by Christians in my family and society who had said hurtful things that I had built a wall around my heart and decided all Christians were bad. It wasn’t until I met these amazing women that I had a change of heart. I will forever be grateful to that small online networking group that was around for less than two years.

Intro and Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – My Story Part 1

No Word For Me

Today I googled the definition of the word stepmother.

Here is the result:stepmom definitionstepmother: noun. a woman who is married to one’s father after the divorce of one’s parents or the death of one’s mother.

The reason I was googling the word stepmother is because I have been stuck with my writing in trying to find a word for my kind of motherhood. I realized, if I can’t even put a name to my role in this family, how can I expect society to understand.

What one word would you use to define my role?

I also googled lesbian stepmother and I am not even going to tell you what the results were. Let’s just say they were similar to the inappropriate comments dads at our kid’s school used to whisper in to my ears.

Mother’s Day: It’s Complicated

Mother's DayMother’s Day is just around the corner. Most of us think of sweet old ladies, flowers and chocolates when it comes to this day. Many also feel guilty for not doing enough or wake up on Mother’s Day and say “OMG I forgot to get my mom a gift!”

Besides the normal thoughts and reactions to Mother’s Day there are a lot of very complicated feelings happening on this day.

This is a day when many women feel left out and unappreciated. Whether they are childless/childfree, stepmoms, lesbian non-bio moms, or any kind of other mother this day can be a sensitive day for them.

Often non-traditional moms go unnoticed on this day. The school may have had the small children make cards for their mom and did not think of making anything for the stepmom or other mom in that child’s life. The child may worry they will hurt their “real” mom’s feelings if they make a card for their stepmom.

Women who were unable to conceive or who had abortions often feel the sting of sadness on this day.

Women who chose not to have children feel judged by others.

Women who lost children feel enormous sadness on Mother’s Day.

This can also be a day of grief for people who have lost their mothers.

Yes, Mother’s Day is a happy day to celebrate and appreciate all those wonderful mothers out there, those women who do so much and often go unnoticed. But, let’s also make it a day to be sensitive to others and maybe start a tradition of reaching out to those other mothers and non-mothers in our lives.

When my neighbor heard about the book I was writing she told me the story of how her mom died when she was 15 and that she never had children. Mother’s Day was always a very difficult day for her but then one day a friend sent her a card on Mother’s Day telling her how much they appreciated her and all the wonderful things she has done. She said that card made her so happy that ever since then she has been sending cards to women on Mother’s Day letting them know how much she appreciates them and all that they have done. Now she loves Mother’s Day and looks forward to it every year. It is no longer a day of dread but rather a day to share appreciation.

I think the story of my neighbor is so beautiful. I challenge you all to pick at least one woman this Mother’s Day to reach out to and send a letter of appreciation to.

What are your Mother’s Day stories?




The image above is a from a page created by me during one of Marilyn LoRusso’s Vision Book Art Workshops.



Stepmom or Step-mom

rely on the kindness of strangerGrammar and language expert friends I need your help!

What is the proper way to write the following titles?

stepmom vs. step-mom

stepdaughter vs. step-daughter

stepson vs. step-son

stepkids vs. step-kids

I am hearing mixed opinions on the word stepmom, many are saying stepmom (without the dash) is okay, but then does that rule apply to all the other step relationships?

Book Blurb

flowersOne of the most important things to have when you are trying to market your business is an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a simple blurb to quickly describe what you do.  Books also need an an elevator speech or book blurb. When someone asks me what my book is about I need to be able to answer them in 30 seconds or less or I risk losing their attention or worse, boring them.

I’m working on my book’s elevator speech. What do you think?

Heart Mothers is a book about women who feel they don’t fit in the “traditional mom” box. They could be single moms, step-moms, lesbian moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, women who chose not to or were not able to have children; the list goes on and on. Basically, I’m writing about the common thread I have found among women feeling like they are an outsider in the mom world.




The image above is a from a page created by me during one of Marilyn LoRusso’s Vision Book Art Workshops.


Time to update the dictionary

evil-stepmothers stepmother: a woman who has married one’s father after the death or divorce of one’s mother

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.

Thank you.