I still remember my very first Mother’s Day with Bernard. He had invited his parents, his brothers and their wives along with their kids. A family meal. To celebrate Mother’s Day. By the end of the day, I ended up in his room, crying. We had different expectations around how this day would be celebrated. We hadn’t talked about it before had so I assumed we were on the same page.
Now, 30 years later, all I really care about when it comes to Mother’s Day is that my husband tells me how much he appreciates me. I’ll get a call or a text from the stepdaughters and my son, but not every year. It just depends on what’s happened. I’ve decided to let go, because at the end of the day, what’s important is that I know what I’ve contributed to the family and my impact in their lives.
Why stepkids may not want to honor you on Mother’s Day
There are many reasons why our stepkids may not want to honor us on a day that is all about motherhood and sharing our appreciation towards them:
- Loyalty binds. This can be an ongoing issue, even into adult years. Many children have a sense of allegiance towards their mom, no matter what she’s done. For our stepkids, this means and either or and not and. Sad but true. Other stepkids are just too afraid of the loyalty issues that this may cause, fearing their mom would be upset, to cause another argument between their parents, feeling guilty if they do argue. These kids are only asking for some peace and harmony, no drama.
- Acknowledging that their nuclear family is no longer a family. This is another reminder that the base unit is no longer together, even if that was the case since very early on.
- For your stepchild, Mother’s Day may mean thanking their mom for being a mom and not “I appreciate you for all the things you do. It’s about the what this represents to the kids more than the role.
- Some stepkids don’t see you as an extension of themselves, therefore don’t see you as part of “their” family, but as dad’s wife or girlfriend. They see themselves as a part of their mom – which is true. So kids figure that it’s dad’s job to do something and not them.
- Just like us stepmoms, these kids have no idea what’s the “correct” thing to do. Each household has their way of celebrating and honoring each other. In my family, we didn’t do celebrations except Christmas, New Years and sometimes Easter. All the other events during the year, including our birthdays often went unnoticed. It was a big adjustment for me when I met my husband and realized that his family celebrated EVERYTHING – and I do mean everything.
What you can do about it.
Talk with your spouse about your thoughts and expectations. Don’t wait for him to figure out that you’re hurting. Speak up and say something, as nicely and gently as you can.
Reevaluate your expectations. Where do your expectations come from? Are they realistic to the current situation you’re living in? Will those expectations help you foster closeness or coldness?
Take some time to pamper yourself in a way that will make you feel appreciated by YOU! This could be to spend some time doing your favorite hobby like reading or painting, or some self-care like a long soak in the tub, with your favorite music and treats.
Reach out to fellow stepmoms who may be going through similar feelings as you. Take the time to honor and celebrate one another, not to commiserate.