By Nneka Mcguire
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Stepmom Amy Ramirez Diaz says that as a stepparent “you’re expected to do everything a mom does and do it with a smile, but you are reminded,” Diaz says, that “you’re not mom. Know your place.”
Stepparenting, like tightrope walking, is a tough act to ace. The stakes are high, the perils great, and slips can bring a world of pain.
On Mother’s Day, women the globe over are recognized for their child-rearing efforts. But stepmothers are rarely acknowledged, on the holiday or otherwise.
The challenges, stepmothers and experts say, can range from thorny relationships with original moms to pushback from kids and a lack of reciprocal affection, not to mention legal rights.
Families, like bodies, take on many shapes, and stepfamilies aren’t uncommon. About 6 in 10 women who remarry are in blended families, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
“And that’s not even counting people who cohabitate or re-partner without marriage,” says Dr. Amy Wagner, senior staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. “So this is a really large group of women” in the position of parenting other people’s children.
“I think they’re among the most courageous and brave women to really take on that job,” Wagner says.
Before Ryan Tova Katz met her husband, she vowed to never marry a man with children. But there’s a saying about best-laid plans. About five years ago, Katz met the father of a 2-year-old. They wed when the little girl was 4 1/2 and have been married for nearly three years.
“Aveline is like the most awesome human alive,” Katz, now 35, says of her stepdaughter. She reckons that because she entered Aveline’s life when she was a toddler, the transition was easier. “When we go places, she just says, ‘I have two moms.’ And people think I’m in a lesbian relationship, which is fine,” says Katz, a large-scale mural artist who lives in Ravenswood.