Step Feelings

Samantha Darby Sollenberger Single/Step Parent

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Last night, I was cleaning up the kitchen while my seven-year-old stepdaughter, Chloe, waved a magic wand over a bag of sunflower seeds at the table. “Accio sunflower seeds!” She murmured, thanks to a recent Harry Potter movie marathon.

“I don’t know if that wand will work on those, baby. That’s just a plastic wand,” I said. I really want to encourage her belief in magic, but I’m running out of excuses as to why her spells don’t work.

She sighed and put her head in her hands. “Nothing I do or wish for works,” she said to the table. Immediately, her eyes welled up with tears.

“What do you wish for, Chloe?” I asked her, wiping my hands on a dishtowel. I had a pretty good idea about where this conversation was going, but I gave her the reins. She and I always seem to end up in the kitchen, talking about her tears, at least once a month. She’s been known to grab me in the middle of the day, tell me that she needs a talk, and pull me off where we can be alone.

“I don’t want to tell you,” she cried. “It’s going to hurt your feelings.”

Oh, my heart broke.

“Chloe, I promise you, I will be okay. You can tell me whatever’s on your mind. Don’t worry about how I’ll feel, just tell me what you’re thinking.”

There was a long pause and Chloe took a deep breath. “It’s just… it’s just that sometimes I wish everything would go back to the way it was with my daddy and mama.”

I immediately wrapped her up in a hug and let her cry on my chest for a while. This isn’t the first time Chloe’s made this declaration, but I know it hurts her to say it all the same. She’s very aware of other’s feelings, very in tune with people and I know some of her pain was worry and fear that I would be angry or upset. The truth is, I wouldn’t expect her to feel any differently. I know that she loves me and her stepfather like she loves her own parents, but I can not blame her for wanting her parents together, for wanting her life to go back to normal.

I rocked her for a while, reassuring her that it was okay to feel that way, that it didn’t mean she couldn’t love me or her stepdad. I told her that even though her wish might not come true, she still had a pretty happy life with all of us. Things are good between her four parents and I know everyone is much happier than they were before.

“Some people’s parents don’t get along at all. Sometimes they fight or call each other names,” I told her. “It may not be exactly what you want, but our family is really good, baby.”

Every time someone asks me about being a stepmom, the first thing they want to know is if I get along with my stepchildren’s mother. I do, really well, but I don’t think that’s anything to applaud. I feel like that’s the way it should be. Especially when there’s a little girl involved who wants everything to be like it used to be and wants you to know about it.

She didn’t hurt my feelings; she validated them. I am a good stepmother. I am right where I’m supposed to be. She trusts me implicitly.

Let’s just hope it lasts through her teenage years.

About the Author

Samantha Darby Sollenberger

Samantha is a freelance writer in small-town Georgia with her husband, David and her stepchildren, Chloe and Trey. She is a blogger for and writes a weekly column, at Work It, Mom! You can find more from Samantha at .

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