I know, in theory, that Mother's Day is supposed to encompass mothers of all kinds: birth, step, adoptive, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, etc. And so, according to that theory, this past Sunday was my first Mother's Day (outside of the one year when one of my foster dogs "gave" me a hand mixer).
I even got a free meal and free cheesecake at Pasta House out of the deal.
But, honestly? I felt like some kind of imposter.
I'm not a mom. Not really. I happened to marry the love of my life, who happened to have a kid. That doesn't make me a mom.
I joined this kid's life like some people join the army midway through the war. I haven't been down in the trenches since the beginning, slogging through the muck and dirty diapers. No, I joined up once the tides had turned and potty training battles had already been won. I got here just in time for games and adventures and crafts. (And the occasional meltdown.)
I'm not the first line of defense. I'm not even the second. I'm back there in the reserves, just in case backup is needed.
But, you say, you're there, Ashley. You took on a role that no one forced you to take. You Google mom questions like, "how do you a get a kid to stop sucking their thumb?" You stand in the middle of the living room while drinking a glass of wine with a kid wrapped around your leg. You wake up to tiny feet against your back. You eat Fazoli's even though you loathe it. You play Chutes and Ladders ten times in a row.
And that's true.
All of it.
But, I don't know. I still don't know if I feel like a "stepmom." Maybe it's that I've already been around for a few years, just as "Ashley" and nothing more. The transition into living in the same house on the weekends even happened before I was officially her stepmom. So there's been very little major shifting of roles or expectations. I'm still Ashley. I just also happen to now be legally bound to her dad.
I want her to be happy. I want her to enjoy our time together, and to like me, and to make good choices. I want her to be as well-adjusted as humanly possible. I want to figure out the best way to make all that happen (hence the Googling).
I also love that she writes notes for "Daddy Ashley," and draws us pictures, and wants to hang out with me and play games and read books. I love that she loves when we match. I love that she picks out what pin I'm wearing on the weekends.
I guess that's the important part. It's not the name that matters, it's the intention and the actions. I would tell anyone else that, except when it comes to myself.
So, I guess I am a stepmom. If you insist.
And maybe, just maybe, I'm not that wicked of one.