Tales from a “Former Stepmom”

Like many, I never liked the word stepmom. I believe the movie Cinderella really ruined it for us. The evil, nasty, mean woman who married Cinderella’s Dad is definitely not who I am, or was, as a stepmom. So, I embraced the phrase Bonus Mom, wholeheartedly. The word bonus implies a gift, or something extra that is good and unexpected and that’s how I viewed my role in his life and who he was for me.

Unacknowledged Feelings after Separation

Until now, I hadn’t acknowledged my feeling of losing my place in B’s life until now. This is mostly because I was trying to keep my head above water. Between separation, Covid-19, and all the other transitions in my life last year, I didn’t even know what I was feeling was grief at the loss of my relationship with the little boy who first made me a mom. I absolutely feel like a part of me is missing, and I don’t know how to feel whole again.


B had just turned 6 at the time (he will be 13 this year!) his dad and I started dating. We waited about 3 months before meeting each other and when we did: MAGIC!

I was never scared about the idea of dating a man with kids, or the future possibility of being a “step” parent. I was a teacher at the time and being a role model/second parent to a million kids is in my blood.

There was never any awkwardness between us. We instantly became buds. But, it’s easy to do when you have a kid so easy going, so fun to be around, and open to anything new and exciting.

That first meeting didn’t go as planned. We had plans to go to Monster Jam in Baton Rouge and when we got there, they were sold out! B was so cool about it that he was the one that suggested we just buy the tickets for the next night and come back then. So, that’s what we did. He taught me to be better at ‘going with the flow.’

Just like that though, we weren’t in each others lives much anymore.

If I’m feeling like this, is he too?

This is an amazing question that I do not know the answer to. I also have a bunch of questions swirling in my head like: Does he feel abandoned? Confused as to why his dad and I separated? Does he want a relationship with me still? Will he forgive me? Does he still love me? These questions are all valid but may not be ever be answered and I’ve got to be okay with that. But I will never know if I do not make in effort to find out. So I’ve set up some tasks to make that happen.

My first task, after writing this post to work out my feelings, is to reach out to his dad. Summer is coming and with the flexibility of my job, I’m going to ask if he would like to come to my house to hang out with his brother (and me selfishly) during the day if he doesn’t have camp or something else going on. My thought process for this is that it gives me an ‘in’ to start the conversation. Then go from there…

Is there a word for being a former step parent?

In conversation, I still refer to B as my bonus kid. There are some instances, especially now that I am dating again, that I have to explain this situation. But, I still think of myself as a bonus mom. I don’t want to be the ex-stepmom.

So, if you are also a former stepmom or dad, do you know any resources for us? Want to start a support group for parents like us? Do you have a better word/phrase than former step parent, or ex stepmom/dad?

If you have any advice, please reach out.

Marissa Winters
Marissa has lived in Lafayette since 2014 and quickly fell in love with Louisiana culture, community spirit and the amazing food!! Marissa is the Director of Healthy Acadiana at the United Way of Acadiana and loves to be the helper. Marissa has a 5 year old named Jackson and absolutely loves being his Mama. Follow along with them as they navigate the waters of school, co-parenting, and so much more.


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