Step Mom Strong by Alana Guilarte

Step Mom, never a title I envisioned for myself, but now a title I wear proudly. 6 years ago, I met Joel, and Joel’s son. One of our first conversations was actually about his son, Thomas, but Step Mom was the furthest thing from my mind, at a University of Miami tailgate, hungover, would this transpire to something more. I was 25, had just moved back home from living in New York City and was getting reacquainted with Miami. Little did I know.

After about a month of dating, it started to sink in, this guy has a son. This was either going to be more serious than I anticipated, or it would end pretty quickly. Things go serious which ultimately meant, I was officially dating someone with a child. As a child of divorce, I was familiar with the territory, but not in this context.

After a few months of dating, we felt it was the right time for me to meet Thomas. It was hard not to love him! He was a little over a year and half and a ball of deliciousness. It didn’t hurt  that I absolutely adore kids and working with kids is what I do for a living. Loving Thomas was easy, being a step mom, that’s a different story.

As things got more serious between Joel and I, it became more and more apparent the role I was going to ultimately be playing. I remember scouring the internet and Facebook, since Instagram wasn’t what it is today, searching for Step Mom groups. While there were plenty, I didn’t see any relatable information or situations. While my friends were great listeners, no one really understood. It was often a lonely place. The comment I would get most often from my friends would be, “but why do you do so much?” and at the end of the day my response was always the same, “it’s for Thomas”. It always has been and always will be. No matter how difficult things get with co-parenting, at the end of the day it always boils down to, is this in Thomas’s best interest, or in someone else’s. The minute it’s in someone else’s is the minute we’re doing it wrong. And not saying I’ve done it right all the time, I am human.

Over the last year, in having given birth to my daughter, Annabelle, and sharing more of my life on Instagram, I was inviting more and more people into my life of being a step parent. I connected with now a great friend, Krystal Janet, a fellow step mom, and together we started “Step Mom Strong”. I finally had a place, a group, a friend who understood.

“Step Mom Strong” started as a weekly pod on the Peanut App in which we would discuss topics relating to step parenting, but at the end of the day, relatable to any parent. We have now recently moved our talks over to the world of Instagram as to be able to bring more awareness to an otherwise taboo topic.

For so long Step Moms have been portrayed as evil, or home wrecking, or just no good. Step Mom Strong wants to change that narrative and show that while every situation is unique, we’re not necessarily these evil, home wrecking, women. We’re women, moms, who have chosen to take on this role, not to replace, but to add to this child or these children’s lives.

Step Mom Strong’s goal is to be a community where we can come together to support, uplift and be a place of understanding when there are so many times when this role can feel lonely and unappreciated. With so many societal norms changing on a daily basis, it’s about time we change this one too!

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