Stepmum’s get a bad press. If you think of a stepmum in the world of fiction it’s usually negative.
Cinderella, the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Baroness Von Schrader from the Sound of Music, perpetuate the ‘evil’ negative connotations with the word stepmum.
Luckily for me, my stepmum doesn’t fall into the evil category.
My stepmum – or my mam – as I’ve called her for a long time, has been in my life since I was a toddler and to be honest I’d be lost without her.
Stepmum’s and dads have a bloody tough job and I don’t envy you.
You look after children that are not biologically your own but you make them yours and that is truly amazing.
You fell in love with someone who just so happened to have a child or children and find yourself taking on a huge responsibility you didn’t necessarily sign up for.
Now I’m not saying it’s all been plain-sailing with my mam and I.
Far from it.
Not only did my mam take on my dad and me – she also took on dealing with an ex-wife with mental health problems. No mean feat believe me.
We had a rough start with custody battles and tight purse strings.
The teenage years were pretty tricky for us and there was a lot of screaming in my house. I blame the hormones (sorry dad), but thankfully we came out the other side a lot closer.
My mam and dad went on to have my little brother (who is now in fact a lot taller than me) and we’ve never been treated or loved any differently by our parents or extended family.
I’m now friends with people who are themselves stepparents and I’ve heard them question what they’re doing – do they hate me, what am I doing wrong, why don’t they listen, will we ever be civil?
Please hang in there.
It’s worth it. It’s so so worth it in the end.
Every situation is different and some not as complicated as mine.
There’s no rule book, there’s no right or wrong way.
You just have to sort of meet in the middle and figure it out as you go along. At least that’s what’s worked for us.
But take it from a stepchild – you being there, reading us a story, helping us with homework, comforting us after a bad dream and cheering us on during sports day makes all the difference.
Staying up all night sewing a Tudor costume so I can wear it to school for a trip is worth so much more than any expensive gift.
Your time, your effort, your support and your love – it means the world to us.
So as my mam prepares to celebrate a very special birthday this week, this is a thank you from me to her and to all the stepparents out there.
Thank you for looking after us and making us your own. Thank you for every bedtime story and every song you sang.
Thank you for always putting us first even when it means you went without.
Thank you for every concert you had to suffer through (Five and S Club 7 spring to mind) and that you were there to help with make-up (hello blue eye shadow), to wipe our tears after an argument with friends and to tend to our cuts and bruises.
Thank you for the discipline (even though we might not appreciate it at the time) and the advice when things get a little too much – putting my anxious feelings into a box is genius.
Thank you for letting us climb into your bed when we get too scared after a bad dream (purple people eaters still haunts me) and thank you for trying even when we are very trying!
Thank you for never giving up, even after the 10,000,000th “I HATE YOU” being screamed in your face.
But most of all, despite the tears, the tantrums, the ups and the downs, thank you for loving us unconditionally and choosing to be our stepparent, co-parent, whatever you want to call it.
I, and the other stepchildren like me, would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for you.
From the bottom of my heart thank you.
I hope to one day be even just half the mam you are.