It's odd - because it's just an undefined role. Not a parent, not really. But not nothing either. I spent a LOT of time with my stepchildren, for a very long time, and yesterday, at the the bat mitzvah, it was clear that in the overall scheme of things, my presence was utterly unnecessary. I did hold my sleeping one year old daughter thru most of it, and I was a nice pair of legs for my four year old to cling to. I also took my eight year old into the ladies room and let her sob out her frustration when she melted down (sleepover the night before - perhaps not my wisest move). But other than that, other than being there as the mother of the bat mitzvah'ed girl's siblings, I was essentially ... invisible.
I'm sort of struggling with that, I mean, obviously, the day isn't about me. And to be blunt, I'm NOT her mother. I didn't carry her for nine months, I didn't walk the halls with her while she cried as an infant, or see her off for her first day at school. I didn't kiss her after vaccinations or set up playdates. I know this - and I've always been very clear on not wanting to replace or supplant her actual, involved, loving mother. But I have taught her how to braid challah, and how to make matzoh balls, how to change a diaper, how to soothe a crying baby and answered her questions about sex and relationships. I help her dad to be a better parent, I encourage her relationship with her grandparents. I'm not nothing.
You know I'm going to face this challenge again and again. At the next bat mitzvah, at the graduations, at the weddings and with the grandchildren. It's normal, understandable, even. I'm not the mother, after all.
But it's hard to accept that there's no middle ground. There's no place for me, not really. I'm the mother of siblings in their lives, I guess, and that's more than enough. Or it should be. I like my kids, and I'm satisfied with my role as their mom - I don't need to be recognized as my stepchildren's mother. I'm not. But still... it feels like I was ignored and left out, and I still feel a little hurt.