When strangers call you 'mom'

newwife58October 12, 2009

Yesterday DH and I were at church with SS8 and SS5. A woman we don't know was making casual conversation and asked me "well, mom how are you feeling about kids back in school now?" She was referring to me as "mom" and SK's were right there. The assumption that I am BM is natural, and happens often at restaurants, parties, etc where other folks don't know our family dynamic (or family drama) but I'm not always exactly sure how to handle it. Do I correct them (as I did in this situation by saying, "well actually I'm their stepmother"), or just let it go, or does it depend on the specific situation?

I love my stepkids very much, and they love me (for now), but they also love their BM and she makes no secret about feeling that I am not someone they should feel any connection toward. I don't want them to feel as though I am rejecting them (ie "They are not MY children..") but I also don't want them to think that I am trying to take over. I imagine this happens to other SM's as often as it happens to me. What do you do?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It depends (hahaha) were they behaving? :)

Waitstaff assumes I am the "mom" if they refer to me as mom ss14 used to say "she's not my mom she's my sm" ... then the waitstaff is kind of stumped they don't know how to respond ... now the kids are used to it I guess .... so they do not "correct" waitstaff ...

It depends on specific situations I think ... hubby made me a shirt that says "I am NOT their mother" .... :)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 6:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think you should ask the kids what they want. Many kids do not want a discussion of family stuff in public. Casual acquaintances and waitsfaff have no need to know. I think you are obligated to make certain that people in authority -- teachers, doctors, etc know you are SM. That doesnt mean if SDs coach says OK, we need all parents here at 7AM, you jump up and say, I am not the mom. It does mean if coach calls and says SD is hurt, you say quickly I need to get hold of dad or maom.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't clarify it for a comment like that.

If an acquaintance specifically asks "are these your kids?" than I might say "oh,this is my SS ____ and my DD ______." I don't know what the *right* thing to do is. SS refers to me to other people as his stepmom----like, he will say "let me ask my SM" so I figure it doesn't upset him if I refer to him as my stepson. After all, he IS and that is the nature of our relationship.

A lot of times, though, too I will just say "these are our kids, _____ & ______."

It really depends on the situation, who's asking, etc.

When I'm talking with my good, close friends, I always refer to the kids as "my kids" or "our kids." I will say to a friend "oh yes, I can relate, my kids have busy schedules, too."

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thats happened to me several times. In the beginning I felt kind of awkward, as you do. But over time I just learned that it was a natural assumption and I just went with it. If the kids feel the need to correct it let them. I always felt like if I jumped in and said they were my skids then it would make them uncomfortable.

I found out that my middle sd has friends that have no idea I am not her biological mom. She told me that she is embarassed that her mom left them an she did not want others to know!

My ss, who is only 7, has friends whose parents think I am his mom too. He lives with us and I attend all his school functions, bm does not do anything. So I never correct the parents. As far as I am concerned I am his mom.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 11:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use to correct people in the beginning but when the girls started calling me mom on their own accord I stopped. People will occasionaly ask for clarification when the girls talk to school friends about their mother being in prison.

This happened just ysterday as a matter of fact. Another parent was talking to DH while they stood waiting for the bell to ring at the end of the day. She told DH that her son came home saying the girls mother was in prison ans she told him no she's not...their mom lives with them. Dh tthen told her I was actually step mom but they called me mom and their "real mom"(we use the term losely)is in fact incarcerated.

Staff at the school know the score because we had a meeting at the beginning of the year about the situation. Even though they know I'm "step" mom they still call me mom. None of them have ever even seen Bio mom. As far as all the parents and other students...most of them think I am mom because that's what the girls call me. I won't embarass the girls by correcting them and others every time it is brought up even though I am sure that's what absentee BM would expect me to do.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have always corrected people.

I had one incident where someone said to the the eldest, who in her 20's at the time, something about me being her mom. I corrected them and then she proceeded to bizitch at me in private about how much she hated for people to think that I was her mother. I didn't say it to her, but I really, really wanted to tell her that her lack of manners and public rudeness was a reflection on her mother; and in no way would I want people to mistake me as the one who raised her.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 1:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No one has ever thought I'm the mother of my SKids because the ages don't work. (Hubby was a very young father and is older than I am.)

Now my son's StepMom probably looks more like him than I do, so she has often been mistaken for Mom. It bothered me when she did not correct DS's teachers, but it wouldn't bother me one-time-only encounters (what's the point?).

Now it DID bother me when 4th grade DS wrote in his 'My Biography' report that Mom and Dad got divorced in June, Mom & StepDad got married two months later, and little brother was born in December!
Yikes! Not quite how it happened! -- Mom MET StepDad two months after divorce, got married two YEARS later, and little brother was born the FOLLOWING December.

Any wonder why DS's teachers seemed to like StepMom more than me?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 1:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"they love me (for now)"
I remember being there!

"her lack of manners and public rudeness was a reflection on her mother; and in no way would I want people to mistake me as the one who raised her."
& I remember being there, too!

I think kk has a good idea;
maybe not "ask" kids what they want, they're very young & likely haven't thought about it, but open a conversation with them & figure it out mutually.

I once was asked to "pass" as someone's mom;
a girl at the office wanted to get her ears pierced.
Thank goodness, her mom heard about it & took her to have it done before I had to come up with an answer.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My SK's mom doesn't live near us, doesn't have anything to do with their daily lives, and sometimes goes for months without contact. Since I am the "mother" that is there for them 24/7 and am expected to play the mother role by their father, I don't feel the need to correct anyone regarding my "title". Wherever there may be legal repercussions, or important people such as teachers, etc., it is made clear that I am the SM and BM is not responsible for their daily care. There haven't been any problems so far with my SK. I did however explain to them why I don't correct people all the time, and they are OK with that. If BM was a regular part of their lives, I would definitely make the distinction for people. Then again, if BM was a regular part of their lives, I imagine they would behave much differently and I certainly would not want that behavior to be a reflection of my "parenting skills".

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL! Sweeby, that's hilarious! Isn't it funny how kids' perspectives can be so skewed!

This has never happened to me. But, what HAS happened is that people have assumed I was SD's older sister and DH's daughter. Ha ha ha! Boy.....that was awkward!

But I kind of take it as a compliment. I don't look 30 and I'm okay with that :) DH is 16 years older than me so it would be a stretch for him to be my father. But people can be very tactless sometimes and unthinking.

X's GF has been called both "Mom" and "Mom 2". She doesn't correct them at all. Even in situations I think she should, like daycare and baseball. Situations where they should already know the status of our family.

But in a situation like OP's, I wouldn't worry about correcting unless the conversation goes deeper.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't correct people unless they are in a position of authority, such as a teacher. SD calls me mom herself 90% of the time, as do her friends. If she speaks to them about her bio-mom she says "my mom (name)"

Many years ago I corrected someone, and it really hurt SD's feelings. Since then I never have unless the situation warranted it. I just told her if she wants to she can, I'd leave it up to her and my feelings would not be hurt if she did.

I am listed as step mom on all her school forms as contactauthorized parent, and when she was younger the school knew me and our situation through volunteer work, so it was never questioned. Now that she is in high school we'll see - I was the only parent at her back to school night as DH was nasty sick and mom didn't bother to attend. Ironic, huh?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 5:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was refered as SO's DD's(20) mother on several occassions. for example we went on vacation and security in the airport commented how nice to see the whole family on vacation: mom, dad and a daughter. we all usually laugh. his DDs look nothing like me, but they don't look like their mother either.

at DD's 27 wedding i was refered as her mother on few occassions (which kind of upset me because I don't look like i can have 27-year-old daughter :( LOL, but then my SO's cousin was refered as bride's mother as well. mother was passed out drunk the entire time :( so people assumed anyone of us helping the bride could be bride's mother. i correct people when it is appropriate and let it go when there is no need.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 11:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This has happened to me many times, not only with SGS 8 1/2, but with other kids, friends. I have been embarrassed by SGS 8 1/2 loudly saying "she's not my mom, she's my grandpa's wife!" Yes and it sounds even worse loud and in public! So, I just say that "I'm mom to this one, my DS7, and the others are borrowed" whether it's the step-grandkids or friend's kids.

In terms of people in "authority" positions, I have not experienced that however I would think that teachers etc. would already know. Doctors, not so much, but just clarify with them if need be, no big deal, they don't really care, they just want an adult in charge.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 3:23PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
adult step son and his girlfriend lives with us
i just want my privacy. we have never had any. met...
step adult kids
Where and how do I start.. my wife has two adult kids....
His ex controls the situation through the kids
I have been dating my BF for over 3 years now and his...
will the real mom please stand up!
I'm all confused. My kids bio-mom abandoned us with...
if I could tell stepmothers of adult children anything
My dad remarried last year, a year after my mother...
Sponsored Products
ChargeIt! by Jay 13-inch Silver Charger Plate
Brushed Nickel Two-Light Bath Fixture
$81.00 | Bellacor
Antica Farmacista Peonia, Gardenia & Rosa Diffuser
$69.00 | FRONTGATE
Dinah Ceramic Box
$39.99 | Dot & Bo
Italian Bathroom Sink
Slipstream XXL Ceiling Fan by Minka Aire Fans
$799.95 | Lumens
Canterbury Arbor - 54" Opening
House of Troy Pinnacle Brass Double Swing Arm Wall Lamp
Lamps Plus
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™