Balancing work and family is difficult for any mom. For a stepmom it's even more difficult. Compromising for three kids I didn't bring into this world isn't easy. I have to balance work, my relationship with my partner, my relationship with kids who aren't mine, and the relationship or perceived relationship with the kids' mother. Oh, then there is the relationship with my family and his family. It feels a lot like like musical chairs and I am always the one who ends up without a chair.
There is the constant reminder that I am not a mom. He let's it slip, "you don't understand because you don't have kids". The kids sing the mommy song and do the mommy dance when it is time to go back to their mom's house. My family is great, but they don't acknowledge the children's birthdays, which feels like not acknowledging that I have kids.
On the outside I look like a contender for mom of the year. I go to little league games, soccer practice, I leave work early so my partner can coach the boys teams, I cook healthy meals plus a simplified version for the kids to eat, I plan birthday parties and I genuinely am invested in his children. I want to be the best "mom" possible, but sometimes it hurts.
This past Sunday was Mother's Day. For me, this year, it came like a slap in the face. It screamed at me YOU ARE NOT A MOM. My partner was right when he told me I place a lot (he said too much) of significance on things like holidays and birthdays. It's not just mine though, I place significance on everyone on these days. I want everyone in my life to know that they matter. I want to know that I matter.
My partner was wonderful to me on Mother's Day. He celebrated me for being such a wonderful mother figure to his children. He let me know how much he appreciates me and everything I do. Despite all he did for me, I still have an empty spot in my heart.