To my stepparents: Let’s start with thank you.
Thank you for doing all of things you didn’t have to do. You didn’t have to come to my sporting events, or help me with school projects. You didn’t have to pick out Christmas and birthday gifts that were just from you. You didn’t have to take me on family vacations. You didn’t have to throw me that tea party so I could meet kids in your neighborhood, and then pretend it didn’t bother you while I pouted in my room for an hour before coming down. You didn’t have to love me, but you did it all anyway.
No one really plans to sign up for step-parenthood, I know you didn’t either. You loved my parent, so you decided to step up and love me too. You were not perfect. You made plenty of mistakes . . . just like every parent does. Now that I am a parent, I am actually impressed you did not make more. You did your best, and that was more than I could ask for.
I know I was not always grateful, or really ever grateful. I may have said “you’re not my real dad (or mom)” more times than I said “thank you.” I even tried showing you with my actions that I didn’t like you, and even told you I hated you a few times, too.
I am sorry.
I know this apology is coming a little late, but now that I’m a parent myself, I am even more grateful for everything you did. I’m also more sorry for everything I took for granted. I am sorry I didn’t show you my gratitude then, but I hope you know I am thankful for you now. I know you, and I know you forgave me before I ever asked for forgiveness.
Thanks for sticking around and being a parent to me even when I told you I didn’t want it.
And to all of the other stepparents out there, I hope you get your own thank you letter one day. I hope you know that you are loved, even if you aren’t hearing the words. If you are doing your best to be a good parent, one day they will understand.
Stepparenting can be hard; it takes a special person to do it well, a special person to do it with grace.
It is no easy job. It’s often a thankless job and can make you feel invisible. If you are in a season where you are not feeling love or gratitude from your stepchild, that doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t there, because being a kid is also hard. The big messy emotions of divorce and remarriage are difficult even for well-adjusted adults to navigate.
Even if you have a great relationship with your stepchild, step parents just don’t receive the same acknowledgement as biological parents in our society, no matter if they are doing more of the actual parenting.
In case you didn’t know, there is actually a National Step Family Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any stepparent cards at Target. National Cat Day, National Taco Day, and National Coffee Day usually get more press . . . even though my cat never made my lunch, a taco never gave me a hug when I needed one, and no cup of coffee ever remembered my birthday.
You probably didn’t receive any acknowledgement that day, because it’s not a commonly celebrated holiday. Nevertheless, I want to acknowledge you now and celebrate you, because stepparents are not usually celebrated, more often they are vilified. I can think of many examples of a wicked stepmother character in books, movies, and fairy tales, and only a handful of good ones. But, if anyone else has a stepparent anything like mine, they’re one of the good ones. Tell them thanks; keep up the good work.
Do you have an amazing stepmom or stepdad or stepchild? Don’t forget to celebrate them and the role they play in making your life a better place.