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My Path to Motherhood: I am a stepmom

by Guest Blogger on April 12, 2013

This post is part of our reader-submitted guest post series, My Path to Motherhood. For more about the series, read this post. To read all posts in the series, click here.

My Path to Motherhood, step motherhood

Motherhood is tricky business. It’s defined differently by different people and cultures; in fact, my daughter was 8 years old before I felt comfortable being acknowledged on Mother’s Day. My path to motherhood came with a prefix: Step. I am a stepmom.

After my sophomore year of college, I decided to stay in Florida for the summer and found a job working at a bakery and cafe. One night I was closing the bakery with another college girl. She was talking about some of our coworkers and mentioned what a great dad our manager, Marco, was. This surprised me. Marco had caught my attention for always being the life of the party. He was outgoing and always had a smile on his face. He was known for keeping things lively and fun around the restaurant. Customers loved him, too. He had that charismatic personality that drew people to him. I couldn’t picture him as a doting father, let alone to a little girl.

A few days later I was working a slow afternoon when Marco came in with his daughter. She was not quite 3 years old and the very spitting image of Marco; all plump cheeks and eyes like hershey’s kisses. I’d always loved kids, and this one just looked precious holding her daddy’s hand and swinging around a little purse. You could feel the pride radiating from Marco; he was positively glowing. I walked over and said hi to Daniela and asked her if she’d like a cookie. What kid doesn’t, right? She nodded her head so I scooped up her tiny body and tickled her on our way over to the display case. We were instant best friends. We sat at a table and she showed me all the goodies in her purse; lollipops, stickers, and the usual, but the best part was when she started pulling out real snails! This girl had a penchant for tiny snails and collected them whenever she found them. It’s was darling. Marco came over a few minutes later and watching him with Daniela was astounding. I’d never seen a dad enjoy spending time with his little daughter the way Marco did. They were joyful.

Two months later, Marco and I eloped. I went from a being a 20 year old college girl to being a 20 year old wife and stepmom. I was young, I was naive, and I was exactly where I was suppose to be. The odds were (and still are) against us, but we’ve never given much ado about statistics.

Daniela is my light and joy. Marco tells me that he fell in love when he saw Daniela and me laying belly down on the floor, chins propped up on open palms and giggling to Shrek. She had just turned 3. She is my best friend and my little munchkinita. She has a pensive, serious side that thinks up questions that I am totally unprepared to answer. It scares me. I’ve never birthed a child, but I can’t imagine that loving a child could get any more intense. It’s a ferocious, protective love that bloomed out of absolutely no where the first time she scraped her knee and ran into my arms.

Eight years later, motherhood is tricky, but stepmotherhood is complex and delicate. Especially when you don’t have any biological children of your own. As Daniela gets older, one of my near constant worries is that she sees me as too much of a mom. She has a wonderful mom with whom she shares that sacred mother/daughter relationship and she certainly doesn’t need another one. However, it’s so easy to fall into that mom character because in our house, that’s my role. I pick her up from school and check her homework and sign her forms and pack her lunches and bathe her and read to her and on (and on!) the mothering list goes. We are a traditional family when she’s at home and I suspect it’s the same at her mom and stepdad’s house.

However, I worry that because she sees me as another mom, I won’t be in that privileged “extra information” group reserved for older friends and cool aunts. I’m afraid I will be kept from all the things that daughters keep from their mothers because my role is so very similar to her mom’s. So far that hasn’t been the case, and I thank God for it. Marco smiles that patient smile of his every time I bring it up and just says “Christi, she adores you. Not because you’re her stepmom, but because you listen and understand her.” He is incredibly supportive. The truth of the matter is, nothing makes my heart leap quite like when Daniela comes to me with questions and says “I was thinking about … and knew you would help” or “I don’t want anyone else to know, but…” That’s when I breathe a sigh of relief. That’s when I know I’ve entered the holy ground of step parenting.

“I was never in your belly, but I was ALWAYS in your heart.” – Daniela, 6 years old.

* * * * *

Christi Madrid is a Florida based blogger who grew up in Northern Michigan. Together, she and her husband strive to rear their daughter to be a globally-minded citizen; confident and empowered in her world identity. Christi blogs about step parenting and her personal passion of Learning to be the Light at You can also catch her on Facebook, full of step parenting resources and random YouTube videos.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie April 12, 2013 at 10:54 am

It is so wonderful to hear your story. You are a beautiful family. I married my husband when my son was two, his son was five. We have two children together but it hasn’t always been easy but I’ve never had any regrets. When asked how many children we have we always say four. We never looked at each others children as not our own and I think that’s what makes our family so special. I know I am a step-mother but I choose to remove the word step and just be a mother. I’m sure his mom would beg to differ but he sees me as mom and knows I love him and vice versa for my husband and my son. They are 16 and 19 now and I have to say we didn’t do so bad. Just keep doing what you’re doing and always let her know how much you love her.


Christi Madrid April 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Marie, Thank you so much for your words! I absolutely LOVE hearing from blended families that are further on their journey than we are. I love you how put it; “I choose to remove the word step and just be a mother” — so beautiful! Have a wonderful weekend with your family <3


Tragic Sandwich April 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm

““I was never in your belly, but I was ALWAYS in your heart.” – Daniela, 6 years old.”

This makes me cry. What a beautiful little girl–and she’s pretty, too! How lucky you are to have each other.


christi Madrid April 13, 2013 at 12:01 am

lucky, indeed <3


Sarah April 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

This reminds me so much of a beautiful story we shared last year on Salt & Nectar!


christi Madrid April 13, 2013 at 12:10 am

I so very much enjoyed reading that story! Thank you for sharing Sarah. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to find the love in everyone. Have a great weekend!


Dakota April 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Hey Christi,

I was blessed with wonderful biological parents. Daniela was blessed with an awesome parent. Period. I’ve heard from numerous sources that step-parents and children can be a hit or miss proposition.

So glad that it is a hit for you both.


Emma April 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for this Christi, good to hear another postivie story. I am a step mum to two wonderful boys who are now 7 & 9 (they were 2 & 4 when my partner and I got together). We also have a little boy of 2 and twins on the way and it all works really well. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many hard times and lots to work through but I absolutely think of them as mine and only ever explain that they are my step sons when absolutely necessary. I have read so many ‘self-help’ books and honestly, the best thing to do for me has just been to get in there, get on with it, and keep the lines of communication with my partner 100% open and honest, no matter how uncomfortable it may be from time to time!


christi Madrid April 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Excellent priorities Emma! I love hearing how it works for others.


Chris Badgett April 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm


This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story a putting a ripple of inspiration out into the world for non biological relationships.

This is a great example of how we can see different nuances of reality and experience from a subjective vs. objective perspective.

Thanks for shining the light and best wishes to you and your family!



christi Madrid April 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Thank you Chris!


Lindsay April 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Thank you for sharing this! I feel the same way about my 9yo stepdaughter. There’s so little out there about the role of a stepmom, and it helps to know there are others out there trying to navigate the intense love and dangerous pitfalls associated with that role.


christi Madrid April 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Lindsay you are so right! I’ve looked high and low for blended family resources that aren’t full of crap. Stepmoms are especially crucial to blended families and there isn’t much available for us. I’d love to talk with you more! Email me through my blog and we’ll chat!


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