Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I started seriously dating Dave when Derek was 11 and Kyle and Kira were almost 7. Since being first introduced, the kids had called me by my first name. Kyle called me mom almost immediately; but for a while, he called every woman mom. Derek started referring to me as “mom” at our wedding.

Kira, however, did not call me mom. It was taken in stride and never allowed to be an issue. As long as she treated me with respect it didn’t matter if she continued to call me by my first name. It wasn’t until several years later that she would directly call me mom, but it didn’t really matter.

As Kira grew up, people would often tell us how much we looked alike and we would just look at each other and smile. She would discuss her family with her friends and I transitioned from “step-mom” to “mom” early on. At some point, others never knew the difference and just assumed I was her biological parent, and we rarely corrected anyone. Despite the fact that at home she would call me Shadra, I was and am her mom. As a stepparent it can be hard to decipher the role you play in your step-children’s lives. For me, it was not about whether the kids called me mom or not. It was about the relationship we built and the time we shared.

The definition of mother is “a woman related to a child to whom she has given birth,” but mothering is the act of bringing up a child with care and affection. That is much more important than a biological link, and it is up to you to decide the role that you’ll play.