To my dear stepmom,
Mother's Day is almost here, and it's got me thinking about all the years past when I treated you as "less than" on this special day of celebration. Back when I didn't grasp that I could celebrate both you and my mom on Mother's Day without it being some sort of a betrayal, somehow making her feel "less than" through my recognition of your important role in my life. I was too young and too closed-minded to understand the complexity of your addition to our family dynamic, and I underestimated my mom's ability to empathize with you. For this, I'm so sorry.
I didn't grasp that I could celebrate both you and my mom on Mother's Day without it being some sort of a betrayal.
I'm sorry for all the Mother's Day cards in which I added the word "step" before the generic Hallmark saying, making it clear even through cheesy preprinted messages that I thought of you as a different sort of parental figure.
I'm sorry for the times when I corrected salespeople at stores who told us that they "could see the resemblance" between mother and daughter, embarrassing you in front of grocery clerks or department store checkers even while you shopped to fill my closet and our kitchen cupboards.
I'm sorry for all of the things you've done for me since my childhood that I've taken for granted or that have gone unrecognized. It wasn't until adulthood that I realized exactly what you were sacrificing by marrying into our family, especially with no biological kids of your own. All of the parent-teacher conferences, sports games, trips to the library, dentist appointments, field trips, school clothes shopping excursions, and awkward sleepover drop-offs were a huge time commitment for you, and you did it uncomplaining while I didn't even notice.
You spent hours helping me with math homework, reading the first chapters of my fledgling stories, and watching with genuine enthusiasm as I cut your old clothes into bits while channeling my inner "fashion designer." You worked so hard to make my birthdays special by decorating and planning fun excursions when I came over to stay at your house, even if it meant that your wedding anniversary with my dad (two days afterward) went unnoticed.
You gave me boy advice when I had crushes and cried with me when they broke my heart. You helped me break news of poor grades or thoughtless mistakes to my dad when you knew I was too wimpy to fess up alone, and you always knew the right way to spin it so that nothing sounded too bad. You screamed with delight when I got into my first-choice college and made financial sacrifices to ensure that I would be able to attend it.
I'm sorry for all the Mother's Day cards in which I added the word "step" before the generic Hallmark saying.
When my now-fiancé proposed, you not only helped hide the secret, but tears of joy sprang to your eyes when you were there to celebrate with us in the hours afterward. You schlepped your way across San Francisco in the worst rainstorm we've had in a decade to help me find a wedding venue, and you asked all the questions I forgot (but turned out to be really important).
You've bent over backward to help and support me from the moment you entered my life, and most of the time you've been met with my lackluster excuse for gratefulness. I can only hope that I've begun making up for it as I've reached adulthood and started to understand the gravity of everything you've done, and continue to do, for me.
So on this Mother's Day, I vow to treat you as such - a mother, because that's who you've been and always will be to me. Sure, you're different than my mom; you came into my life later and bring a whole separate set of things to the table of our family. But you've never been less than a mother to me, and I love you for it.
Happy Mother's Day. Not Stepmother's Day. Happy Mother's Day. And thank you for everything.