We recently got back from our first week long family vacation. As a Stepmom, I was both excited and nervous for the experience. I just wanted everything to go smoothly, and for everyone to be happy.
The trip exceeded all expectations and was hands down the best week we’ve ever had as a family. Everybody was smiling, the sun was shining and the ice cream cones were never ending.
We had one “fancy dinner” planned for the week, and saved it for the very end. Bringing a six-year-old into a restaurant is always a little nerve wracking for me, let alone one with tablecloths and candles. She behaved beautifully, and the only spilled drink that night ended up being mine!
The dinner was delicious, the conversations were perfect, and the sunset on the water was beautiful. There were two things that happened that night that topped all of them though. They go on my list of favorite memories of all time, and I owe them to two kind old ladies dressed in cardigans and pearls.
Halfway through dinner, Stepdaughter and I took a bathroom break. As we were standing side by side washing our hands, the older woman at the third sink smiled warmly at me and said “My oh my, does she ever look like you.” I blushed and smiled back, “Thank you so much. She’s actually my stepdaughter.” Her eyes grew wide in disbelief.
“Maybe it’s our matching curly hair,” I chuckled.
“No,” she said. “Her face…her eyes…her smile. She truly looks like you, and you are both beautiful.”
I thanked her for the compliment, and told her she made my night. As we made our way back to the table, my heart smiled. I knew it was impossible for this little girl to share any of my genetics, I know she gets her beautiful light green eyes from her Mom, and her curly hair from her Dad. But even so, I oftentimes see myself in her, and it gave me a warm sense of pride that someone else associated her with me.
As the night came to an end, we paid our bill and stood to leave. As we headed towards the door, another older woman stood up from her nearby table and approached me.
“I couldn’t let you leave without telling you…I’ve been sitting here eating dinner with my husband, and I couldn’t help but notice your family. I just wanted to let you know that I have never seen a child love her parents more than this little girl does.”
I squeezed my husband’s hand and fought back tears. “Thank you,” I told her. “You have no idea what that means to us.”
“I mean it,” she said. “She hugged and kissed you both throughout the entire meal. Her smiles for you are so genuine…it is clear she truly loves you.”
That moment tops the chart for my memories a Stepmom. Stepparents often wonder if they are doing things right, and this quick moment told me I must be doing at least something right.
Stepdaughter tugged on my dress as we walked out, “What did that old lady say to you?”
“She said it looks like you love me and Dad very much, and it was sweet to see that.”
“Well of course I love you guys very much. You’re my parents. What a silly old lady!”
Stepparents are constantly reminded and made aware that they are not biologically connected to their kids. That missing link can wreak havoc on a stepparent’s heart and mind. If you have a stepparent friend, let them know you see them in their stepkids. Do they share the same humor? Same favorite food? Similar laughs? Tell them. Let them know that a missing genetic link does not forbid connections of love.
Thank you, silly old ladies. Wherever you are in the world, thank you for your words. I will never forget them.