Mo is my oldest child, and she happens to be my stepchild. Her father and I began dating when she was 1 1/2. I felt it was important for me to keep myself separated from her for a while. I didn't want her to get attached to me or I to her until I knew things would work between her father and I. We moved in together a little less than a year later, and we got pregnant shortly after that. I was often left alone with her to care for her when my husband went to work and while BM was working. After the birth of my A, my daughter, Mo started trying to call me mom more. She was 3 and I felt she was too young to call me mom. I felt she couldn't possibly understand why she should or shouldn't call me that. When she was 4 she told my husband and I that BM was making her call BM's boyfriend daddy. She was upset about this because we wouldn't let her call me "mommy" and because she didn't want my husband to be mad. When Mo was 5 she broke down crying when she called me mom and I corrected her. I asked her why it was so important to call me mommy, and she told me it was because she loves me and I do so much "cool" stuff with her. At this point my husband and I decided if it was important to her to call me mom that we would both allow it. My husband and I were married by this point, and we felt if she was old enough to verbalize why she wanted to call me mom then she was old enough to make the decision herself. BM was not happy about it, and made a big stink about it but eventually was forced to learn to deal with it.
I feel angry sometimes when people I don't know well (parent's of kids in her class, friends of friends, BM's mom, my husband's mom" call BM her "real" mom. I potty trained Mo, I taught her the alphabet, colors, and numbers. I've comforted her during illness, cried with her, laughed with her, taken her to special events, disciplined her, and lover her unconditionally. What makes her BM any more "real" of a mother than me? I understand the difference in bonding. Sometimes I'm jealous that I never got a chance to carry her in my womb, or breastfeed her, or do any of the things that I had the opportunity to do with my two other kids. Am I alone in this type of relationship? Is anyone else ever frustrated by lack of recognition for the mothering you do to "stepchildren" or even by being called a "step parent"? I feel like step implies less than, and to me she is just as much my child as any of the kids who I have birthed.