Praise for stepmothers

My son spends half of his life under another roof with his father and a woman I did not choose. This woman rises earlier than she’d prefer to care for my son. She cooks meals for him, listens to him, plays with him, considers his preferences and needs and desires. She rides airplanes with him, holds him when he cries, advises him on making the choices that shape who he is becoming. She attends his soccer games and school events and consults on his health and the evolution of his character.

This woman is raising my child: A thought that once broke me open. Now it puts me back together.

I did not meet Taylor for a year and a half. I did not meet her until there was no other choice. She was Pete’s private girlfriend, and I was his private wife. Until we sat across from each other that April evening in the tea shop, steeping.

Slowly, deliberately, and with a great deal of honesty, respect and intention, we plodded toward a sense of community and collaboration.

This Mother’s Day, with Teddy in his other home and the day to myself, I felt a little lost. I asked myself what I wanted to do to honor myself as a mother.

The answer came back immediately: Thank Taylor.

With the answer came tears. Thank Taylor.

This woman I did not choose, who did not choose me, is the most important mother in my life. My son’s other mother.

Nearly five years into the evolution of our blended family, I trust her. I respect her. I like her. Maybe I even love her.

It occurs to me that Taylor and I could be considered a kind of arranged marriage, one step askew. Both of us married the same man, cementing us to the same tribe. We have bonded through the ego-exploding work of weaving a family from the scraps we have been given.

I chose to bring my child into the world. Taylor chose to bring him into her world.

It is choice that makes family. Not blood.

8 responses to “Praise for stepmothers

  1. Sage, this is beautiful. I was that other mother for my stepson. His mother and I got along pretty well, although nobody said thank you, especially my stepson. He and his mother attended my husband’s funeral with me.

    • Sage Cohen   

      Sue, This brings tears to my eyes. THANK YOU for raising your stepson so well. I am sorry I am the first to say so.

  2. Speaking as both a mother and the other mother, I think this is one of the wisest, most generous pieces I have read on stepmothering. Clearly, both of you remarkable women put your son first. In my book, this is exactly what parenting is all about. It’s not about adult egos, needs, or insecurities … it is about raising a child with respect, boundaries, love and supportive, no matter where he puts his head down to sleep on any given night. Thank you for your wisdom.

    • Sage Cohen   

      Oh, Tracey, thank you so very much. There is nothing better than having sisters who share my commitment to this vision–and are living / have lived it. Thank you for blazing the way for all you know and love and touch…I was changed from my first encounter with you!

  3. Meghan   

    Oh Sage.
    You’re words and stories are beautiful. This is nothing like the life I’ve known or hope to know in the future but the love and respect you bring to this blended family is a model people should strive for.
    You are wonderful and I miss you.

    • Sage Cohen   

      Thank you so much, Meghan!! I hope you never have to know this kind of life in the future, either. You’re a marvel of respect and love for the life you are living right now! I miss you, too…xoxo

  4. Allegra Heidelinde   

    Thank you for feeling so deeply, honestly, and writing it down. I love how everything turns to treasure when you touch it with your heart. Thank you, Sage, again!

    • Sage Cohen   

      So honored to share this journey with you, Allegra! xoxoox

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