Does anyone else remember that cute little dinosaur from the TV
show “Dinosaurs” who would quip quotable quotes from his high chair? 
He would occasionally whack his dad, Earl, over the head with a frying
pan and shriek, “NOT da mama!”

When baby wanted mom (Fran), he made no bones about it.

If you’re a stepmother trying to fit in with a new family, you might be
smarting from the bruise of a figurative frying pan.  In one way, it
would be better if your stepkids were as clear as baby dino, though
admittedly that would hurt.  Instead of a whack on the head, however,
you may get furtive whispers just loud enough for you to hear,
sideways glances, lack of cooperation, or any one of a list of more
subtle frying pans.

May I share what I’ve learned?  What the kids are trying to get across
(though sometimes not tactfully done) is actually right.  You are not
the mama.  It doesn’t matter if their mom lives around the corner,
across the country, in heaven, or in jail – you are still not the mama.

Though more than one fine woman can play the role of mom as
needed by the family, think of the kids’ perspective.  For them, the
woman who bore them – their blood – will be THE woman they crave
in that role.  No bones about it.

“But wait,” you say.  “Why is she laying this on me so heavy?” 
Because I want to help you.  Because this seed of knowledge could
change your stepparenting life.  I wish I’d figured this out sooner.  It
might have changed my relationships with my stepdaughter and
stepson.  I spent a very long time thinking I could eventually be
another mother to them, and I think my expectations just resulted in
disappointment for me and confusion for them.

The good news is that, as usual, we are doing more right than we
know.  Even with my misunderstanding of my role, I remember that
the kids and I would watch “Dinosaurs” together, and occasionally Ian
(smiling) would pretend to whack me on the head and squeal, “Not da
mama.”  We all had some good laughs over that.

The role you’ll play in your stepfamily will be something fresh and
new; something that’s yours to own.  Don’t spin your wheels trying to
be the thing you cannot be – think of that as wearing a clothing style
that just doesn’t suit you.  Create your own style in the new family,
and expose your stepchildren to it tiny bit by bit.  Then they have the
chance to know who you really are.

And, guess what?  You do too.

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to


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