This Sunday was UK Mothers’ Day or Mothering Sunday and this was the first time I could legitimately stand up in church with all the other mums to get some chocolate! Before I did though I looked down the row to the girls to confer. Did I count being a step-mum? Chocolate was at stake here so I was hoping for an affirmative answer. I got the thumbs up and stood – no, jumped up. Chocolate has never tasted so good!
They then played this on the big screen in the service. I cried with a bitter-sweet blend of laughter, a mini chocolate-high and utter shock as I heard my mother and now myself in these lyrics. I may not have the bingo wings yet, but after only 7 months of my step-mum crash course, I’ve been wheeling out most of these corkers already:
It’s not been the easiest past couple of months. We’re all getting a bit more used to each other as a family now and with that familiarity have come a few mood clouds (both in the kids and me – but probably more in me if I’m honest!). Forgotten gym kits, fathoming last-minute maths homework (again, them and me) and the morning scrambles for getting to school on time have all led to a few raised voices and the odd tear and sniff… And as Mothers’ Day has approached, I wasn’t putting to much weight on the day. I wasn’t sure where I stood as a step-mum. I didn’t want to stake a claim on something that was really the girls’ own mother’s day, right?
When we were at the supermarket a week ago I asked the girls if they wanted to choose a card for their mum. They did. Sunflower (10) chose in a flash, a card with a monkey on the front, but Sweet Pea (7) took what seemed like an eternity to choose hers as I made myself look busy and not-at-all a little uncomfortable, staring intently at some decorative secateurs across the aisle for a little longer than what might be considered normal. Eventually she made her choice and asked me what I thought. ‘Thank you for always being there’ it said inside. And for her mum, who isn’t allowed to see the girls without supervision right now, I tried sensitively to help her pick out more appropriate suggestions. In the end she settled on a pink, sparkly design which dazzled with love and affection… and I settled on the fact that they will always have their mum whom they love very much. She’ll never stop being their mum. But I would do my best to always be there… as their step-mum.
Soon afterwards I sat down to write my own mum’s Mother’s Day card and suddenly realised that this was the first non-sarcastic, non-arsy, non-jokey and somewhat sincere card I’d bought for my mum. And then it struck me, I think I was starting to understand this motherhood thing. Only the very beginnings of it. The very tip of the iceberg. But I could finally appreciate, after 31 years, what mums, step- or otherwise, are all about.
On Mothering Sunday morning, the girls were waiting for me outside the bedroom door. Before I could even engage my brain, the mum-esque words of, ‘What are you two up to?’ tumbled out of my mouth, only for them to count to three, stand up and declare in unison, ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’ I was then handed two beautiful hand-made cards complete with sparkly paint and screwed up tissue-paper flowers, ribbons and pictures of puppies and daffodils.
And inside the recently-not-so-sunny Sunflower’s card it read:
To the best Step-Mum in the World!
We have been through some hard times, laughing, crying and just being moody, but you get me and I thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.
I ate my chocolate at church with pride that night. My new life as a step-mum had definitely begun.