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Experiences of a Stepmother

Updated on February 22, 2012

© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.


I will never forget the day I met my stepdaughter. She was 10 years old with curly blonde hair that hung in ringlets around her face and blue eyes to top her innocent beauty. She had been hanging around the campground where I had taken my children for the summer. After meeting her a few times, she innocently revealed how her mama had died in a car accident and how bad she missed her. My heart broke for her at that moment, and she knew she had me...


Let's just say, life with her did not turn out as planned. Young children who have lost a close parent to death miss them terribly. I witnessed her go through a number of emotions, from one extreme to another. And no matter how many times I let her drive me around on the country roads when she was 12, or played dress-up with her and her friends, I was still the evil stepmother. The age difference between my husband and I was 13 years, which caused my relationship with her to be more like that of two sisters.

The downfall of being a stepmother, especially when the biological mother has passed away, is that you are ALWAYS wrong. I don't care what the subject matter is, or if you earned a college degree in that area, you will never be right. In the early days, we got along well, as we were still in that "honeymoon phase" of our relationship. Add another year and a half to this mixed with puberty to top it off (and for the record, the idea that women who live together can have menstrual cycles in close proximity to each other is true). So now, I have an angry, missing her dead mother, menstruating, extremely depressed teenager, who gets P.M.S. every time that you do. Don't misunderstand me, for as many bad days we had, there were just as many good days. I have been called every terrible name in the book, and I have held her in my arms when she cried herself to sleep as she missed her mother. I have been slapped and hugged by her. I was the enemy because no matter how hard I tried, I would never be the mother she was trying so hard to hang onto.

Needless to say, just like many blended families, the odds were highly against us. My marriage to her father crumbled within a few years. Physical violence had erupted, so it was time to leave. Not to mention, I had no support from my husband as a co-parent. Guilt-ridden, I left with only one thing to say to her, "No matter what happens, I will always be here for you if you need me."

Several years passed and she grew up. We kept in touch, and she even came to live with me for awhile. That did not turn out well, to say the least. She is stubborn, and our relationship has been on again, off again. But I vowed to myself I would keep that promise, to be there for her no matter what.

Eventually, we did repair our relationship. The day she found out she was pregnant with her first baby, she asked me to take her to the doctor for her pregnancy test results. I went and sat with her throughout the whole ordeal. After the appointment, I drove her home as she cried her heart out (this was definitely an unplanned pregnancy). I remember her barely audible words, "I wish my mom was here, she will never get to meet her grandchild." I then reminded her of the promise I made to her several years prior, which was that I would always be there for her as long as she wanted me there. She hugged me hard and asked me if I would be the baby's grandma. What an honor! I agreed and have been "Nana" for almost four years. She now has two children, after she gave birth to a baby girl last year. My grandchildren know me well, and I spend a large amount of time with them.

I guess my reason for writing this article is not to tell a story, but to bring out some of obvious disadvantages and advantages to step-parenting. There is hope that someday, this stepchild that you are raising could grow up to have a close and loving relationship with you. There were times I wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. But now, when I look into the eyes of my precious grandchildren, I realize the whole ride was worth it.


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    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      I hope so because even though she is 24, she still struggles. We have a love-hate relationship at times. :(

      Thanks for the comment!

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 6 years ago from George, South Africa

      You have been such a kind person (mum) and surely as your stepdaughter brings up her children she will more aware of all that you have sacrificed for her.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is a beautiful story. I just adore happy endings, and this truly sounds like one!

    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      I agree, but that girl went through a lot losing her mom so young. She still has issues at times and is 24 now, but she knows I love her no matter what.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      That sounds like a long painful journey you were both on. It so annoying some times when you think of all the wasted years of animosity, for what. Grief.

      Grief needs to be worked through but it is hard with the added complications you had.

      Thanks for sharing, I am sure others may learn from this experience.

    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      Thanks Quildon. I am just as blessed to have them in my life too. My grandchildren can bring a bright ray of sunshine into a dismal day anyday. I love them so much.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 6 years ago from Florida

      Wow! You sound like a truly loving and warm-hearted person. I hope your stepdaughter and your grand children one day realize how blessed they are to have you in their lives.

    • qlcoach profile image

      Gary Eby 6 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

      I can relate to the trials and tribulations of blended families. My wife and I blended five kids together from previous marriages. There are no easy solutions to step-parenting. But obviously you have a bond with your grown daughter and you seem to enjoy the grandmother role too. Here's to the power of Love that transcends biology. Thanks for following me. I like to write about emotional recovery and miracles. Peace and Light...Gary.

    • Bail Up ! profile image

      Bail Up ! 6 years ago

      Kudos to you for sticking by true to your word. Parenting is not easy not even with your own biological children and much less during the teen years. That you survived this as a step parent is a testament to your character. You shall reap what you sow now with your grandchildren. Blessings!

    • anusha15 profile image

      Anusha Jain 6 years ago from Delhi, India

      Prejudice in relationship mixed with external negative influences, specially by people who simply want to poke their noses (these could be friends, relatives etc) and give unwanted advice are big causes of negatively effecting a delicate relationship with a step child.

      You portrayed the whole thing in an excellent manner. Deep emotions expressed effectively are bound to leave a long lasting effect. Great hub.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      JenJen0703: What an emotional arc of wrenching disappointments, steadfast courage, and overwhelming joy! This is such a testament to the power of your commitment to life and love.

      Thank you sharing, voted up, etc.,


    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      Aww...thanks ThomasRydder. Life is tough, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I will check out some of your hubs, too.

    • profile image

      ThomasRydder 6 years ago

      WOW!! What a rollercoaster...I can imagine you crying yourself to sleep on more than a few occasions too. You have alot of love inside you, missy, and perhaps love does indeed conquer all, hmm? I took the time to read your bio, and HEAR HEAR to the college and other activities you embrace. I just became your newest fan :)

    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      Hi, Justateacher. I agree with you on this. All parental authorities must have a unified front when it comes to the children. Too many people get caught up in their emotions and what they want and forget about what is best for the children. This is what makes being a step-mother so difficult. Having support from the legal mother helps.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 6 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I became a step-mom to two wonderful children two and a half years ago. It has been a roller coaster, but everything has turned out stepchildren still have their mom and that has made things both better and worse...luckily, their real mom and I get along pretty well so we can talk about things when the kids try to work us against each other!

    • Kristin Halsted profile image

      Kristin Halsted 6 years ago

      Great advice! Parenting is the hardest job in the world, but always worth it in the end! So glad things worked out for you! Great hub!