It’s a moment most moms and daughters dream about — going wedding dress shopping and helping your daughter as she prepares to say “I DO!” to the love of her life. This recently happened to me – with our 27 year old – but the part of this story that makes it mean so much more — is that I am the STEP-mom.
FINDING THE DRESS
It was everything like you see on the show and more: tears, smiles, such beauty. I was able to watch Sierra try on dress after dress (actually just five) and each one more beautiful than the next. With each dress, she’d look to me for approval and advice – such love and admiration and trust. I was there to support and not judge her taste (which luckily for me — we like the same styles). I took a zillion pictures and did my best not to cry. Sierra picked the most stunning dress and I was honored to be there to witness it.
(also in attendance: Ronnie (mother of the groom) and Nina (sister/bridesmaid, my daughter with Sierra’s dad)
Some of you might be wondering — how and why I was invited to be a big part of this day. Where is her mom? Was there tension? Motherly territorial issues? Seriously…so many questions.
However, to make this story authentic and meaningful — we need to go back 25 years. I promise to (try) make this a short story from this point forward.
I met Sierra when she was 2 years old. She is the oldest daughter of my husband and his first wife. They married too young and, unfortunately, they divorced with two small kids. I came into the picture after they split up and immediately fell in love with him and his daughters.
I immediately took to the motherly role and did my best to make sure they were loved while visiting with us (and even when they were not in our care). As you can imagine – this caused conflict with Sierra’s mom. She and my husband did not end the marriage amicably. And it was easy to blame me.
I am not using this blog to talk trash about Sierra’s mom — but just know that there were lots of bad times, court battles, custody fights, the girls paying the parents against each other, etc. The teenage years were brutal for all involved and I have spent many nights crying myself to sleep over the way the relationship was or wasn’t.
We ended up having years where we did not speak – it was heartbreaking. But as Sierra grew into a woman – she started to realize certain truths. We started up a healthy relationship and it grew from there. Over recent years, we have had conversations where she has apologized for some of the ugly things that took place years ago. Our relationship has turned into one of complete trust, honesty and mutual respect.
However, during this time — Sierra has decided not to have a relationship with her mother and sister – for personal reasons I will not mention here. (This story is about us). I have told her numerous times that I respect her mother’s position in her life and I will honor any decision Sierra makes regarding her relationship with her mother.
STEP PARENTING LOVE
Back to my relationship with Sierra.
We talk all of the time – especially now with the upcoming wedding. It is seriously so awesome to interact with her on this level.
On my last birthday — Sierra wrote me a beautiful birthday message that totally made me cry. I will share with you one small part.
“You made sure we never went without, you treated us like you were the one who carried us. You never made us feel less in any way. I feel so special and blessed that you CHOSE to be my mother, again and again. When there was heartbreak, where there were struggles, when there was laughter, love and fun, you always CHOSE us.”
I know for a fact that I will be a huge ugly crying mess when she walks down the aisle on her wedding day. Sierra and I have been through hell and back and it has made us a better mother-daughter team. I know being a step-parent is hard no matter what your circumstances are with the other parent(s). But if you are genuine, and loving, it can be one of the most rewarding relationships.
(Our wedding 1999 with the girls)
I promise to write a new blog when they get married in December 2020.