I am sure most of us have seen the open letter one mom wrote to her daughter’s stepmom that went viral awhile back. In this piece, the birth mother expresses thankfulness for her daughter’s stepmother. While I am sure she really is grateful, this type of relationship isn’t the norm for many blended families. Women everywhere reposted this open letter because it is so rare that this type of relationship exists.
Every situation is different. My situation is very different.
It’s hard to be the new woman in a dad’s life, not only from a child’s perspective, but also from an adult woman considering her future family plans (whether that includes biological children, stepchildren, a combination of both or somewhere in-between).
When my future-husband and I first met, he had two daughters from a previous marriage 50 percent of the time. As our relationship strengthened, and I knew I would marry this man one day, I also considered what everyday life would look like.
His ex-wife had many issues, and six months after we were married, we went to court and got sole custody because there were open social services cases in their birth mother’s home. Not to mention she lives in filth — hardly an acceptable environment for young girls.
I’m curious how many of you chose to raise children that are your husband’s but not biologically yours … children you didn’t carry inside your body, didn’t diaper or spend late nights coddling back to sleep. I’m not talking about every other weekend or teenagers who are so busy with their personal lives that you barely see them. I’m referring to actually raising a child.
Taking on a full-time role as a mother to two young girls wasn’t something I would have wished upon myself as a newlywed. I don’t know that it’s really on any bride-to-be’s checklist. But it has been a blessing. Here’s the letter I would write to their mother…
Dear Birth Mother,
I never wanted you in my life, and I still don’t. I didn’t dream the man I would fall in love with would already have experienced intimate moments of life bringing children into the world with another woman.
I’ve known about you since our first date. He told me that you cheated on him, stole savings for your children from his parents and habitually lied, and that is why the two of you divorced. From that moment I didn’t like you and I knew we would never be friends. You didn’t value your marriage or your two young girls.
When your 10-year-old daughter came to me and told me that you told her, “boys can look at you but not touch,” I knew I would never like you — because I’m not like you. I would never tell a young impressionable girl that it is okay for boys to look at her body. I don’t want my daughter to be something for people to look at. I want her to respect her body and dress modestly. Young girls should be concerned with friends, fun activities and their education, not the googling eyes of some young boy.
I invited you to a beauty pageant that I signed your 7-year-old for because of her low self-esteem issues — and you didn’t even show up. This was back when you shared 50/50 custody. She was being teased at school by other children, having them call her things like “nasty” and “dirty” during the weeks she was in your care. Yet you did nothing. She’s been at her new school now for two years — she has a lot of friends, she is excelling but most of all she is thriving. Thanks to me.
It hurts my heart when I have to take care of one of my bonus daughters who has allergies because you smoked when you were pregnant with her. How her life could be different if you had not been so selfish. My husband told me about the cigarettes he found in your daughter’s baby drawer that you’d been hiding. I can’t imagine the hurt you caused him.
It bothers me when my bonus daughters come home and say you only had money to take them to McDonald’s and the park during your short visits with them. Yet you always have plenty of money to buy cigarettes to feed your habit. And you recently asked to reschedule your time with them so you could go to a Luke Bryan concert. We all know those tickets weren’t cheap. I spent my babysitting money paying for their Girl Scout dues.
I’m sure it upset you when I took your girls for their first hair cut and manicure in a salon shortly after my husband and I got engaged — but that’s not my problem. They were 7 and 10 and needed some grooming. You see, I am the opposite of selfish. Most bonus moms are. We chose to love children that we have no biological relation to. Family requires love — not DNA — and I love my girls.
Yes, MY girls.
Although you gave birth to them, I love and take care of them like they are my own — not because I have to, but because I want to. I would give and do anything for those girls — girls I didn’t bring into the world and that I didn’t get to spend time with on Mother’s Day until they are old enough to decide that they wanted to spend that day with me.
I am nine years younger than you and your eldest daughter is only 13 years younger than me — yet she has chosen to call me mom. While you are getting your trainwreck of a life straightened out, I am raising your children. I am teaching them respect, how to be clean, about manners, why it’s important to make good grades, respecting their bodies and about the birds and the bees as they enter their teen years.
Honestly, I wouldn’t change having them in our lives everyday for anything. I love being there for them. I enjoy teaching them about life. I love having them all of the time, and I would give them my last dime if they needed it.
Am I perfect? No. But I try my best. Every. Day.
There are times I fail, but I get back up and I do it again. Joyfully. Willingly. And with a desire to be a better mother. Sadly, I don’t feel like I can say the same about you. But I’m confident in our family’s full-time care, these girls are getting attention, guidance and parenting needed to help develop them into the best women they can be — and that makes me happy.
I’ve come to realize happiness isn’t wrapped up in a perfect biological family. There’s a reason I consider myself a bonus mom — it’s because these two incredible girls have changed and enriched my life for the better, and they have helped me further understand the true meaning of unconditional love and motherhood — for all of this, I am grateful.
The Bonus Mom