What did he just call me?


Every kid who has a step-mother has probably wondered what they’ll be expected to call her.  We’ve all heard stories or seen tv shows with the typical, “She is NOT my mother!” exclaimed by a foot-stomping child.  Usually that behavior follows a demand by the child’s dad to call a new step-mother “mom”.

I say good luck to any parent who tries to require Mom & Dad titles for steps.  Sure, the kids may obey when you’re around, but I guarantee that’s not the term they’re using once you’re out of earshot.

I base this on my own experience as each of my parents remarried.  One set of parents tried to enforce the Mom/Dad titles, and the other left it completely up to me.  Approximately 30 years later I still call both of my step-parents by their first names, mainly because that’s just what I’m comfortable calling them.  It’s not for lack of love.  In fact, I’ve never called my friends’ parents or my in-laws Mom & Dad either.  That title is reserved for the two people whose genetics I carry.  That’s just how I roll.

Now that I am a step-mother, I completely expected my husband’s 3 children to call me Andi.  Even though he refers to me as Mom when he’s talking to them, I’ve let them know that the term means I am the Mom of this household.  It in no way means I am requiring them to give me that title or that I am trying to replace their own moms.

So here’s the shocker… a few days ago I am quite certain I heard my 16 year old step-son call me Mom!  Was it a slip?  Did he mean to do it?  I was cooking his favorite food so maybe he was caught up in a teenaged boy hunger induced haze.  Who knows?!  But I have to admit it made my heart skip a beat.

Now then, our 9 year old girl has called me Mommy ever since her dad and I married, but she was only 4 at the time so that never struck me as odd.  I’ve always thought it very sweet.  It is funny, however, when her mom and I are together and she calls us both Mommy.  Luckily her mom is awesome and we can laugh about it when she says, “no not you Mommy, the other Mommy!”.

(for more on how I get along with this Ex-Wife-in-Law read my Joining Forces with the Ex blog on the Good Enough Mother website)

But to have a teenage boy suddenly sneak a “mom” into conversation without batting an eye, well I don’t want to make too much of it but WOW!  I feel so accepted.  I feel like he realizes that my role is not just one of wife to his dad, but that I have fully embraced the lifetime role of parent to him.  This takes nothing away from his own mother.

It’s kind of like when a mother gives birth to a 2nd child and learns that it takes no love away from the 1st.  Our hearts grow to make room for every child.  Wrapping your heart around step-children is a much different process, but I knew immediately when I heard this boy use the word “mom” that both our hearts have grown and made room for each other.  And that makes me feel kind of super.


What about you?  What makes you feel like a “Super-Mom”?


2 responses

  1. It’s great that you’ve ended up both in constructive remarriage dynamics and that both you and the other mother are balanced caring secure friendly women.

    What I’ve observed is that often more recent migrant families, as in days from the past our western families had a constructive way of deliniating child and adult roles that encouraged childern and youth to be a bit more respectful of adults. It was done by not calling adults beside natural parents by their christian names, but by socialy giving them family status as aunty or uncle which also presumed the adult could be trusted to behave like a caring kin member. For more distant adults non adult children youth called them by title and surmame , Mr Smith, like they would their teachers.

    Way back in the past most step parents came into the picture through widowhood and did have the full role of the deceased parent to take on or if a divorce it entailed a parent who’d deserted or been institutionalised. Hence it was common for the step parent to be called mom or dad getting also the respectful behaviour for the role regardless of the levels of love felt. Likewise the step parent accepted their obligations in role delivery for children responsibly again regardless of depths of attatchment.

    Language, naming, titles given are extremely powerful for how roles are responded to. This did facilitate a lot more stability and resulted in reducing pointless stress battles.

    Once divorces started to emerge, yet still quite a minority occurance in the olden days, most children had just the one custodial parent they remained with and very rare visits by the non custodial parent whom they saw briefly on their own. Where the custodial parent remarried, the partner ended up usually taking up much of the absent parents role and often ended up with a parent title again.

    Children today are often the victims of adults readily seperating via poor judgement from wether it was the initial partnering choice, misconduct forcing an end, or poor communication and inadequate commitments, probably even with repeated partners, parents dating whilts waiting to find the next longest term partner, parents not over the hurts of break ups etc..All while the child may be in highly shared ongoing custody maintaining life with both parents apart as well as whatever new dates or partners each parent has. I call these vitamised families, not blended ones.
    Few adults who step in these situations to readily, or even more that they are some current choice of parents who behave inadequatly badly engender or would deserve to be given an adult role title by any still half sane child.The way any possible partner named “Richard” gets called “Hey Dick” by the kids ought help alert him to the reality he’s stumbled into.

    You seem to be with the ex wife the minority portion of where adults have maturely worked through to a new present, the real notion of the blended family. This is the unfortunately rare scene, where it does more commonly occur for children to call a step parent by a parent title over time increasingly by their own volition, especially starting often in public situations for older children.

    Congratulations to you all for making the best alternative for these kids.

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