How I Became Friends With My Stepkids' Mom

Yes, it can be done

Photograph by Getty Images

“My mama bought me some new shoes. At her house she did. That was soooo sweet of my mama, wasn’t it?” My 3-year-old (soon-to-be) stepson asks from the backseat. I can see him in the rearview mirror, a Spider-Man toy clutched in one hand and his sister’s naked Barbie in the other.

“That sure was, buddy,” I say. I put my turning signal on and ease into the left lane.

“My mama is sooo pretty. She sure is pretty,” he tells me, looking out the window. I smile. He is a very affectionate little boy, a little boy that doles out compliments like he’s Santa. Sam, I like your hair! Sam, I like your dress! I like your shoes! I like your bathtub!

“Do you like my mama?” he asks. The stoplight turns red, and I turn to look at him in the backseat.

“Of course I do, bud! I like your mama a lot.” I give him a smile, and he smiles back before yammering on about how he needs a booster seat, a happy meal and maybe a horsey. I can’t follow his conversation. Instead, I spend the rest of the car ride playing his question over and over in my head. Do you like my mama? His sweet voice fills my thoughts, and my brain imagines the question as bright bubble letters floating through the clouds. Any minute, Elmo’s going to appear and sing a song with Big Bird using that one lyric: Do you like my mama?

For the record, it could be a catchy tune.

I wanted my future kids to grow up feeling comfortable around her. I wanted all of us to be a big, nontraditional family.

I wouldn’t say I was completely unprepared for that question, but I didn’t expect it. Especially not from a 3-year-old who has never heard a negative thing about his mama from anyone in our home, and that is something I can say with absolute certainty. When you become involved with someone who has children, it’s pretty much rule No. 1: Thou shalt not talk garbage on thinefiancé'schildren’s mother. Ever. No exceptions. And trust me, I have never had any issue with this rule.

RELATED: What NOT to Say to a Stepmom

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