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For your reading delight! Taken from Karon Phillips Goodman's book The Stepmom's Guide to Simplifying Your Life (EquiLibrium Press, 2002. Used with permission.)

The kids started asking me to sign their school papers and fill out their permission slips. I know it seems like a trivial thing, but it occurred to me that they thought of me as a parent when they asked me to do those things for them.

Brenda, Ohio, stepmom of three

My stepson told my soon-to-be mother-in-law that I was “his Annie” and not hers! He was quite possessive of me. I knew he loved me!

Ann, stepmom of one son

I was the one taking time off to go to appointments, bought his clothes, and visited him every other week, five hours from home, while he was in rehab and his mother couldn’t be bothered. When I sat on the couch holding him while he cried after his mother told him she never wanted to see him again.

Mother of one, stepmom of one, from Illi

We were dropping my stepson off at his mother's house and he yelled for “Mom” while we were talking to her. She and I both instinctively answered "What?" I apologized to her and she turned to talk to him. He told his mom that he wasn't talking to her, he was talking to me! I got one of the nastiest looks I have ever seen and told my husband I thought it was time we leave. I realized that day that although my stepson may often think of me as his mother, I will never be his mother.

Kim Peterson, mom of two and stepmom of one

The school told the kids they had to use an experience with their “real” mother for an essay for Mothers Day and my stepchild won an award for it. Since their mom lives out of state and couldn’t come to the awards ceremony, I went to the awards committee to ask if they could send her the flowers her child had won. I was taking a backseat and trying to show grace and respect for all.

Michele M. Holder, Louisa, Kentucky

I started sounding like my mother!!!

A stepmom from Texas

The girls’ mother put me in my place. The first time she heard her daughter call me “Mama,” she called my husband and screamed about how dare we allow her to do this and promote the blatant disrespect of her as their biological mother. Again, on Mothers Day, she claimed a “right” to have the girls that whole weekend, as they are the reason she celebrates that day. I know that until these girls come into their own, I will be stepmom, and nothing else. I don’t care. When they are older, they will one day see that being “Mom” is not a right, but a feeling.

Angela L. Conners, Oregon

My fiancé's 4 year-old son yelled for me to come upstairs to the bathroom. Upon my arrival, he asked me to please help him wipe.

Janet B., Pennsylvania

Karon and her husband began their stepparenting journey in September, 1996, bringing themselves, her son and his two together to form a family. They made a lot of mistakes along the way, but by the grace of God, they never lost sight of their goal. Today, their family that came late — their family of "yours" and "mine" — is a family of choice and love.

Karon writes about stepfamily life for several publications, publishes a monthly online newsletter, and has published a number of books for stepmoms.