How being a stepmother has positively changed me

At 30 years old, I became a stepmother. I’m a Type A, ambitious, fearless, ladyboss who has always had a plan and strove for perfection. I’ve been a leader since I was a young girl, pushing for big impact, creating a name for myself and knowing what to do next. Being a stepmother was never part of my life plan. In fact my journals from when I was kid said I’d be married by 25 and editor-and- chief of a fashion magazine – didn’t quite hit those goals. But I do have some awesome achievements: 2 degrees, a big corp job, a husband, and a blended family with two stepchildren, Jayden (10) and Skylar (8). 

When I found out my husband had children after our first conversation, I chuckled and said to myself, ‘Welp, this will never work but he’s cute, nice and wants to take me to dinner so why not?’  I didn’t have any friends that were dating men with children, nobody was a stepmom around me, and I knew with certainty that I wanted to create a family, not become part of one. I still have very few friends who are dating dads or stepmothers. 

rachel b lee and kids

Stepmomming aint easy

When I search the internet for ‘stepmom’, ‘stepmotherhood’ or ‘how to be a stepmom’ most of the results are incredibly negative and outdated. Articles like:

“10 Brutal Truths About Being A Stepmom”

The Today Show did this segment a year ago on the “17 things I wish I knew before becoming a stepmom”, which is a newer, more authentic, content piece that I appreciated, but it’s title and tone was still rather grave. Today I saw another article from the network titled ‘Is It Okay For Step-Kids To Say ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ To Stepmother?”

I’m hoping I can be vulnerable and try to shift the conversation a bit on 2020 Mother’s Day.

First things first, guess what??


I don’t care if you’re a new parent, stepparent, grandparent, or single parent. This sh*t is hard. NOBODY talks about that.

Instead our culture idealizes this perfect marriage and family, that does not exist. Let me repeat – perfection in marriage and family does not exist.

What I’ve come to realize as a professional, driven ladyboss and stepmother, is that enjoying the journey is not about living in a fear based mindset or controlling your life and its outcomes. It’s about having the openness to create something you’ve never idealized or imagined. It’s about being compassionate and opening your heart to love when it’s uncomfortable. That is how I found my husband.  That is how I love my stepchildren.

When I fell in love with my husband, I had to understand if I had the untethered love and ability to accept the uncertainty of being a stepmother. I talked to my dad about how much I loved my husband and how I’ve yearned and waited for this kind of true partner. I told him I didn’t know if I could release my ego and control enough to be a stepmother. My dad told me that kids are kids, your own or someone else’s, and that if you have the capacity to love your own child, you can love these children. He never judged my stepkids or thought of them other than our children, in need of love and support. I’m forever grateful for my father’s guidance and light.

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL moms

Being a stepmother has allowed me to choose love over fear. You may be a stepparent and struggling with all of the challenges these articles talk about but the reality is that this is YOUR journey. Your journey is to choose love, everyday, with all people, whether it’s your stepchildren or not. Whether you’re a stepparent or parent.

I’m hoping we can change the conversation about how brutal and hard step-parenting is and start talking about the real challenge – how do you release and accept your ego? How do you choose love and compassion over struggle? How can your children help you heal your own insecurities? Because they’re just kids. More than 4 million children in the United States live in stepfamilies, and that number is on the rise, so we have to change this conversation.

So on this Mother’s Day during a time of so much uncertainty and fear, we must choose love and acceptance. A mother’s journey is her own. To ALL the mothers out there today, thank you for being my guide and friend. Let’s continue to choose love and resilience to be the best parents, lovers, friends and leaders possible.  

Are you a stepparent? What have been your challenges and how are you overcoming it?