Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: The Pretend Mommy September 27, 2012

By Quasi-Momma

It’s been mentioned here before, but I want to reiterate that Facebook just may be one of the worst forums for a woman who is trying to come to terms with being childless.   It’s all been discussed before:  the deluge of sonograms and cute baby pictures, the over-sharing over every detail, and the annoying mommy memes are enough to drive any struggling woman to tears, pulling out her hair, or both.

Perhaps, the best revenge would be to flaunt a more desirable status update about lazy weekend mornings spent lingering over coffee without a child to cart around to practices and recitals.   But not me, I am in the middle – I am stepparent, which makes me childless, but not childfree.

The strange in-between status finds me posting what I refer to as “pretend mommy” posts.  Case in point, in the swing of “Back to School” season  Mommies everywhere were posting pictures of kids sporting brand new backpacks or commenting on first day milestones.  I was not immune.  “I can’t believe that [enter Skid’s name here] is entering high school tomorrow,” my post read.  It was met with a handful of “likes” and good luck messages from family members, but to be honest the whole thing rang false with me.  Not that I underestimate my role as a stepmom, but I thought to myself, “I’ve contributed very little to this deal, why am I claiming it?”

“Pretend mommy” behaviors typify for me the yearning I harbor inside for some connection to motherhood. While I do perform parental duties, I seldom get the recognition for this role. And since I will never be able to tell the story of how I choose my child’s name or participate in the Groom/mother dance, I grab these little moments even if they are not completely mine.  They’re like a costume – a way to quickly try on what it might be like to be the one called “Mom.”

I’m not sure if doing this is necessarily good or bad.  Like most things that just “give you a taste,” it is never 100% satisfying.  I suppose there will come a time when I will grow to the point where I won’t feel as compelled to say or do such things, my relationship with skid will progress to the point where the behavior feels more natural, or both.  For now, I’ll take these little moments for what they are until they no longer serve me or something more authentic takes it place.

How about you?  What behaviors are you finding or have you found doing to try to make it through your transition?

Quasi-Momma is living a childless, but not childfree, life as a stepmom.  Her blog,Quasi-Momma, is a collection of her reflections on pregnancy loss, childlessness not by choice, and not-so-blended family life sprinkled with a little gratitude and lot of heart.  


7 Responses to “Guest Post: The Pretend Mommy”

  1. Jen Says:

    I have been somewhat untouched by “Facebook” baby announcements and such. I think it is partly due to the fact that most my friends on there have their families complete and others are either single/divorce without children. In fact, there were very few back-to-school pics this year due partly to most kids of my friends entering high school (where first day pics are not as huge as when they are younger or some just refuse to have them taken, LOL). I have to say there was a short time after my second miscarriage that I felt angry towards seeing a friend or acquaintance announce a pregenancy. Over time, I have realized that I don’t see a lot of good (for myself) coming out of becoming upset over this. I am now at a place where I can be around others with children and don’t feel upset over the fact that they have a child(ren) and I don’t. I actually enjoy the moments of being in that child’s world with knowing that in the end I can go home and do whatever I want, when I want. Especially when I hear these moms complain about lost sleep, no time for themselves, endless crying, sickness and etc. I guess you can say, I have learned to seek out the positive in these situations rather than always looking at the negative.

  2. Maria Says:

    I am a second wife. I used to wish my husband had children with his first wife because then at least I would have some children in my life. I appreciate the perspective you give as a stepmom – that my fantasy of being a stepmom is just that — a fantasy.

  3. Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

    I am so glad you are sharing your perspective as a stepmom. I have a close friend who is raising her husband’s kids from a previous marriage. Not long ago she was invited to join a moms group, and she felt like she had nothing in common with the other women. Such an awkward position to be in. Does she fake it to try to fit in? She’s still working it out.

    Also want to share with you that my husband danced with his stepmom at our wedding. She didn’t raise him, but she was a wonderful wife to his father and has become a very dear friend to both of us. I introduce her as my mother-in-law, no explanation needed. You are a part of your “skids” lives, and while you may not feel appreciated now, some day they will appreciate you. There’s potential for a special relationship with them. I hope the best for you.

    • Quasi-Momma Says:

      Thanks for the comments. Blending together takes time. And Skid’s mom figures pretty prominently in his life, so I don’t expect to take that kind of position in this dynamic. The relationships will evolve I’m sure, but my little detour into pregnancy loss and not wrestling with this has created their own barriers, which I’m now trying to tear down. Becoming and being a stepmom to constantly re-assess your expectations about your role and relationship with your stepkids. The best you can do is love.

  4. jeopardygirl Says:

    As a step-kid myself, I want to encourage you not to underestimate your role or your significance in Skid’s life. Without my Dad, there’s no telling what kind of person I would have become.

  5. Elena Says:

    It makes me sad to read what emotional turmoil that causes. From my perspective, that child/teenager is part of your life, you love him/her (yes?), you contribute to his/her life, you’re happy to see he/she is entering high school. It’s an important part of your life, so why should you not post it on facebook?

    I don’t try to bristle too much at mommy-posts on fb but see them as coming in two categories: Ok ones and annoying ones.
    Cute pic of the newborn: Ok now I know my friend has become a parent and is happy. That’s important to know if we are friends, no? Cute pic of my godchild: Sure! He’s my godchild!! I’m proud of him and he’s cute!
    Another 10 cute pics of the newborn and the wife lying exhausted in a hospital bed: Annoying! I don’t want to see your wife like that, I haven’t even met her, and I’ve registered already that you’ve become a father, so go away! Endless post from my friend about just how much housework she had to do today whith the 3 kids: Annoying! I don’t post about just how many email I’ve answered today, do I? Do it again and I’ll ban you from my wall! etc.

    • Quasi-Momma Says:

      These moments are not absolute. There are times I don’t feel weird about such posts.

      However, I’ve heard it said time and again that the person who controls the closeness in a stepparent/stepchild relationship is the child. This is true and unfortunately I’m not always welcomed in. There are times the unreturned love makes me feel like a fraud. Only under extreme circumstances am I allowed into the “parent’ space, which makes the struggle to get past not being able to have my own kids that much more difficult. (I’ll never be a mom and I’m still struggling to figure out what my role with Skid is.) I know it’s not me, but it hurts. I’ve written a little bit about it here.

      Yes. I’m proud. Yes. I love that kid, but the little heartbreaks muddy those waters just a bit. Plus there is just so much more to these situations than meets the eye: past hurts, conflict over parenting styles/house rules, loyalty conflicts, and so much more that make blended family life a daily minefield. Also see:

      You take the joy where you can and by the grace of God power through the rest.

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