I wrote this last year. My stepmom is preparing to leave her home of over 40 years and move to a retirement community. As I re-read this piece I reflect back on my life and can't imagine her not in it. I am grateful to her beyond words - but here I'll try. This is to all the stepmoms, you make a difference.
I’m going to be 50 years this September and I live with my stepmom. Yup! Well, to be clear she lives in the upstairs unit of our duplex and I live downstairs. But we have keys to each other’s homes, from time to time we eat together, we drink wine and get caught up, we share dishes and furniture when one or the other of us is having a large gathering of friends, we run errands for one another and generally are the best of friends.
Ruth Anne came into my life at a time of great turmoil and brought with her a calm and confidence (and a much needed sense of humor) I really needed. From the time I first met her when I was eight years old she has been my role model for the ‘perfect step mom.’ Close enough to offer support but not too close to challenge my biological mother. Giving and caring and loving and kind, she maintained a gentle reality about who we are in each other’s lives while starting her own life and family with my father, all the while giving me much needed comfort around this new arrangement. I grew to love her very much and call her mom without the ‘step.’
Her home was always open to me, the step daughter, without condition or reservation. Her home always felt like my home, too. As I transitioned into adulthood, so transitioned our relationship. My wedding was performed in her home, Christmas’ and Thanksgiving dinners with our growing family were at her home. In fact, so very many of the most important events of my life happened in her home.
When father retired and they prepared to transition to that next stage of their lives she and I ‘conspired’ to co-op the family home, an existing duplex, so she and father moved into the smaller unit and my family and I moved into the larger. The arrangement could not have been more perfect for both families. And my love and admiration for Ruth Anne continued to grow as she embraced my young son as her own grandson, no reservations, to hesitation. Not her ‘step grandson’ but her own, lavishing him with all the love any grandmother offers her own.
When father passed, Ruth Anne and I stood holding hands, in our home, and knew without speaking the words, that our love and friendship was so strong it would hold us in each other’s lives even though we had just lost our ‘common thread.’ And six years later, it certainly has. We enjoyed Easter dinner with this beautiful extended family on our ‘joint’ family deck this year and as Ruth Anne and I combined our efforts to prepare the meal for sons and step sons and brothers and step brothers and children and grandchildren, we saw only one big beautiful family and by the look in her eyes as we stole a moment’s glance across the table, I knew she was thinking the same thing as I; we are truly blessed.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Stepmoms.