To all stepmothers. Well, most, because some of you really may be wicked, but for the rest of you, those just beginning your role, those who have been doing it for years and those who put in the time and continue to be an endearing part our lives:
Thanks for not running for the hills when I glared at you like you were a monster. I was just confused, scared and shell shocked. Here was some strange woman coming into my life at a time when I didn’t know who to trust in my own house. And man, I didn’t make your job easy, that’s for sure. But you hung in there. And now look at us, we can laugh about it. Right?
Thanks for loving me. After all, I was just extra baggage that came with that man you were dating. You didn’t have to be so nice to me when he wasn’t around. You didn’t have to give everything you had, I mean, surely you could have found a guy without kids, but then you might have gotten sleep at night, or had a stress-free life. And where’s the fun in that? Actually you can thank me on this one.
Thanks for your time. Only now that I’ve had a kid of my own am I fully able to appreciate all the time that goes in to raising a kid. Every. Single. Morning. For years you got three of us out of bed. You fed us, you got us dressed. You watched me roll my eyes into my skull after telling me I couldn’t go outside without a jacket. You packed my lunch. You picked me up at school when I was sick. You took time off work, or left early for after school activities, sports, plays, *detention, cough cough* The list goes on and on…
Thanks for the cash. You know, from whatever was left of your paycheck after taking so much time off. Like I said above, I had to be fed, bathed, and clothed. Thanks for spending your hard earned money on Fruity Pebbles and toys and Converse and those hideous pastel colored shorts I just had to have. Mechanical pencils, Trapper Keepers, oh the 80’s… Wait, where was I? Yeah, kids aren’t cheap, even when they aren’t your own.
Thanks for putting up with me. I specifically remember asking my dad the following question in your presence: “Dad, if me and stepmom were in a burning building, who would you rescue first?” My dad skated around the query like a seasoned politician, and I believe you corrected my grammar. But the message was clear: You were here to stay.
Thanks for being patient. Really. Not only was I asking my dad difficult questions, I was putting you to the test with stunts I’d cleverly dreamed up while lying in bed. But I was severely outmatched in a game of wits with you. Some of your clever punch lines were like grenades, still to this day detonating in my head like booby traps where I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and shake my fist. Rats!
Thank you for the effort. Because in the end that’s what it was all about. Sure it was about love and patience and all of the above, but mainly it was just effort. You didn’t have to try so hard but you did. You could have treated me like a second-class citizen but instead you went all in, and even sacrificed time that could’ve been spent with your own daughter for my sorry high-maintenance tail. So thanks.
Thank you for not giving up. Because we baggage kids don’t make it easy. After all, you’re not our real mom. We don’t have to listen to you. Sound familiar? But I’m glad I did. I’m glad I listened when you told me you loved me. When you called me special. (Wait a minute!) But seriously, I’m glad I was listening when you calmly explained that you weren’t there to replace anyone, only to be there for me when I needed you–which was a lot. Thanks.
So to you stepmoms out there, keep up the good work. Don’t give up on them. Know that you do matter more than you will ever, ever know, because one day, hopefully sooner than later, that kid is going to realize what you’ve done/doing for him or her, and even if they don’t come right out and say it, they will be thankful.
Pete Fanning is the hardest working man in monkey business. You can read more at Father Knows Little.