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Why You're Wrong About Stepmoms

Photograph by Getty Images

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my 6-year-old stepdaughter's bed, wrangling her 4-year-old brother into his favorite dinosaur pajamas while my husband brought firewood into the house. It was a cozy moment, one I've dreamed about since I was a kid with my baby dolls and my Norman Rockwell fantasies. Here's where I should probably mention that my 7-year-old fantasies never included a stepmother, but I won't because my life as a parent is exactly what I dreamed it would be like. I tuck in babies, I read stories, I fold pajamas and kiss boo-boos and hug on my children while daddy keeps the home safe and warm.

"Pick a book, baby," I told Chloe as I folded back sheets and arranged stuffed animals.

"Wait! Before we read, let's all pray together," Chloe said, grabbing a tiny lamb in her stuffed menagerie that recites the "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" prayer.

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"That's a great idea, baby. Let's pray together. Hit it, Lambchop," I said as I huddled on Chloe's bed with Trey's little knees pressed against my shins. The three of us bowed our heads, clasped our hands and listened to the lamb recite her prayer. When she finished, we all said, "Amen," but I continued.

"And dear Lord, please watch over Chloe and Trey. Please take care of them and please, please Lord ... please let them know how much they are loved. Please fill them with the knowledge that they are loved beyond measure by ALL of us. Please make sure that they never forget how many people love them, how many people are in their corner. They are the absolute best kids and they deserve to know it," I whispered.

When I opened my eyes, Trey was grinning and leaned forward to hug my neck. I glanced at Chloe and she was staring at me with her shy smile, her little dimples trying very hard to pop out of those rosy cheeks.

I am here to be a part of their lives, to be another person in their corner.

"Sam, do you love us like that, too? Will you always be there?" Chloe asked me, pretending to be enthralled with the bows on her pillowcase, pretending that my answer didn't matter to her.

"Baby! Of course I do! I love you more than anything in the entire world, and I will always, always be here. You know that don’t you? You know that you and Trey are the most important people in the world to me, right?" I asked her, knowing that she knew. She nodded, gave me a hug, and then hopped off the bed to pick her book for the night.

Later when I was in bed, I felt like my heart was both full to bursting with love and floating around my ribcage like a feather. I wanted to record that moment in the kids' room—that moment when Chloe wanted reassurance that I loved her beyond measure, that moment when Trey realized what I had prayed for and responded with his full-body hugs I can still feel hours later.

I wanted to take those moments and politely show them to every single person who has told me that my stepchildren do not need another parent. I wanted to tell all of the stepmom "support" groups that I am not just here to "support my husband in his decisions," that I am here to love these kids. I am here to be a part of their lives, to be another person in their corner.

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And I want to tell all those naysayers—all those negative commenters on my blog—that I matter to these kids; I am as important to them as everyone else. They know I'm not their mother; they know I'm not their sole caretaker, and that I'm not trying to take anyone's place. But they also know that I am here. They know that I love them beyond measure—that I would give my life in a split second for either of them—and that I wouldn't even have to think about it. They know that they can come to me with anything and ask me anything, and that I will be here. They know that I'm not going anywhere, that no matter what happens in their lives, their Sammy is right here, always loving them and always willing to read just one more bedtime story.

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