Just a Step Mother

From the desk of Savannah J

This past December 18th marked the 15th anniversary of the death of my son or as society refers to him, my step son. He died at the age of 17 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. For five long weeks, my now ex-husband and I made the hour and a half drive that it took to visit with him. We would go down on every Friday afternoon after getting off from work and stay until Sunday night. For the entire five weeks that he lay in the trauma unit, he never regained consciousness but remained on life support.

The doctors and nurses did all that they could to save his life but his injuries were too severe. I was told during that time, that my job was to support my husband and be there for him in whatever capacity needed. Now, here in lies the interesting piece; very few people verbalized or even acknowledged, I may be in pain as well.

My (step) son had lived with us along with my birth son. I washed his stinky underwear and socks along with my birth son’s. When I cooked, I cooked for everybody. If he needed a ride, or was sick or needed money, I took care of him too. I’m not saying all was rosy and peachy but we were a family, yet my pain rarely acknowledged.

When well meaning family and friends would ask about my (step) son’s progress, he was referred to as my husband’s son. On occasion when I just couldn’t take anymore, I’d correct them and let them know he was mine too. Now, you may be wondering where I’m going with all of this; well, I’ll tell ya.

There are many hard working, excellent parenting, self-less step parents out there and we deserve to be acknowledged as a part of our children’s lives and not seen as bystanders. When our (step) children hurt, we hurt. When they are happy, we are happy. They are just as much a part of our lives and live as deeply in our hearts as our birth children.

Each December since my (step) son’s death I have a difficult time. At the beginning of the month, I find myself  sad and crying and although I feel this way yearly, it takes me a minute to figure out what’s wrong with me. Around the middle December, just before the anniversary of his death, I reach out to my ex-husband. I phone him and burst into tears at the sound of his voice. We usually don’t talk very long; I just need to speak with someone who loved our son the way I did.

There are those who attempt to find the words to say to help me feel better but ultimately, I find myself trying to explain that even though I’m just a step mother, I loved my (step) son as my own. So, it’s easier to phone my ex and cry on his shoulder, knowing he understands.

If there is someone in your circle who has been blessed with the role of parenting a child they did not birth, please offer them your support. And know that if God forbid something happens to that child, they will want to be acknowledged as more that just a step mother/father.

Until we meet again, be blessed and Happy New Year!

Savannah J

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