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Mother’s Day, Incoming: Stepmom Struggles

Leah Bryce
WhiteFlag Social Media Manager
I have been navigating the complex, rewarding, and often challenging role of being a stepmom for almost thirteen years. The entire experience has been full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows; there have been moments of pure love and acceptance from these amazing kids who aren’t biologically mine, along with some of the deepest longing and loneliness I’ve ever experienced.

Now I want to take a pause here and say a couple of things before I continue pouring my heart out: This has been a journey that more than anything has been full of reflection about myself, my own traumas, and my own healing and learning. But for the sake of this post, which honestly, is also about my healing, I’m going to focus on my struggles. I need to get it out and I have a sneaking suspicion other stepmoms can relate.

Throughout these many years of being a stepmom, I’ve come to learn that the second Sunday in May - you know the day - is going to bring with it some overwhelming emotions. Feelings of being undervalued and overlooked are heightened. Feelings of emptiness and loneliness - especially if you’re a stepmom without biological children, like myself - can pop up out of nowhere. On more than one Mother’s Day, I’ve been left asking myself, “What am I even doing here?! Does anyone even SEE me?!”

There are many reasons why stepmoms may feel undervalued, and most often, it’s because they’re often viewed as "secondary" parents, rather than being seen as equal partners in the family. For me, this feeling has been exacerbated by the fact that I constantly feel like I’m struggling to navigate a complex set of expectations and boundaries that I have to figure out as I go. Not much of a learning curve. Deep breaths.

Another challenge, especially for me, has been the pressure to be a "perfect" stepmom, always putting the needs of my stepkids before my own. Pause: Time to refer back to that paragraph up there where I mentioned my own self-work, and healing my own traumas. People-pleaser, much? I’m working on it! While I believe it's important to prioritize my stepkids’ well-being, it can be exhausting to constantly put others first.

All of these challenges and struggles have left me with feelings of isolation, sadness, loneliness, and, to be honest, feeling completely invisible. Most of the time these feelings aren’t there, but on Mother’s Day, they come knocking at my door.

If you’re a stepmom who struggles on Mother’s Day, I want to tell you that you are not alone. I struggle, too. Still! Even after thirteen years. Here are a few things I’ve done to help myself, not only during the complicated and emotional Mother’s Day experience but consistently, over time:

1. I communicate my feelings to my partner. Even if he doesn’t understand, I feel it’s important he knows that there are certain times I might need some extra support.

2. I prioritize my self-care and self-compassion. I have a therapist. I work on my own issues to help me be stronger and more capable of being the stepmom I want to be. I am gentle with myself and allow myself to feel my feelings, even if I feel like no one understands them.

3. I connect with other stepmoms! (The WhiteFlag App is a great way to do that!)

4. I find ways to focus on the positive aspects of my role as a stepmom, and the love and joy I bring to our family.

Being a stepmom is hard. Being a stepmom on Mother’s Day is even harder. To all the stepmoms out there, dreading the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend: I see you. I hear you. Your feelings are valid. You are recognized and celebrated, even if it doesn’t feel like it, because I promise you, I am here cheering you on!


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