I Have Two Words for My Son’s Stepmom

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For the last five years, we have followed a court-ordered visitation schedule for my 17 year old son Oscar. Every other weekend and alternating holidays, Oscar spends with his biological father, his stepmom, and his two (soon to be three) half brothers.

Oscar’s biological father and I don’t get along. I send him texts or emails when he needs to be informed of things but if I need a response, I communicate directly with his wife. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but it’s easier and less stressful for everyone this way.

She met my son when he was about 9 or 10. When I asked about her back then, my son (a man of very few words) said he liked her and she was nice. And that was good enough for me.

I’ve had some time to think and while she has been in the picture for nearly half of Oscar’s life, I don’t know all that much about her. (We live an hour plus away from each other and only see each other at the occasional baseball game in the summer).

My son’s stepmom and I probably only text every few months and probably speak no more than 100 words to each other a year.

I know her name, how old she is, that she works in a hospital and studies nursing. I know she loves coffee because that’s what Oscar wants to buy her for Christmas every year, and that’s about all I know about her. To be honest, I don’t think we have any common interests…except for Oscar.

About two years ago, she and I had to talk through something on the phone. It was the only time we ever talked on the phone. I walked away from the conversation with a new perspective and it changed the way I thought about her forever.

She came up with solutions to the issue I wanted to discuss and I was grateful for her willingness to listen and help. On the call she shared something with me that I wasn’t surprised by, but it wasn’t any of my business. I was bound to hear it from Oscar eventually, but still, she told me, as if she was sharing with me because she needed someone to listen. I struggle to know what to say often (I hate talking on the phone) but I felt for a few moments that she and I were actually talking like friends would. Maybe she felt it too because just before we ended the call she told me how great of a kid Oscar was and that it’s clear I have done a fantastic job raising him.

She and I haven’t had a conversation since that one, just a few texts to coordinate bills and driving schedules, but I think about her more often.

Her words meant so much to me — she had no reason to be nice to me or compliment me. I expected her to hate me as much as her husband does, because of all the stress and financial drama that comes from our past.

I recently asked Oscar if he thought she loved him. He confidently responded yes. And then I asked him why he thought that. In his own words, Oscar says she doesn’t treat him differently than her other sons. He continued….She comes to my games when she can. She talks to me about school and my future. She asks if I want anything from the store. She cooks my favorite foods for me.

My son’s stepmom and I are not friends. But I care about her. And I respect her.

She was a stepmom before she was a mom herself. And there’s no instruction manual for that. I’m not a step-parent but it’s probably one of the toughest jobs out there.

As Mother’s Day approaches I just have two words for my son’s stepmom.


Thank you for choosing to love my son as your own.


Katie Helgesen

Katie Helgesen is the Senior Director of Business Intelligence at Dealer Inspire, a fast-growing and award winning technology company near Chicago. Katie and her husband, Todd, have 4 awesome kids and love living in a small community centered on a lake in northwest Indiana. Baseball, t-ball, and soccer schedules are just a few pieces of Katie’s Mom Hustle. Her daydreams revolve around finding more “me time” and traveling. In real life, Katie keeps herself sane with naps, Netflix and eating out as often as she can.