Blended Family: The BIG Birthday – and My Role as Stepmom

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Birthdays are a BIG deal at my house! It is the one day during the year that revolves around the birthday kid. We decorate rooms with balloons and streamers. We allow a “yes day” where the answer to anything reasonable is yes to include favorite meals, unlimited treats, and favorite activities. It is a BIG day!

My daughter has experienced BIG birthday fun and our traditions for years. 2021 is the first year for me to share BIG birthday fun on my bonus sons’ actual calendar birthday. Woohoo, I love to celebrate!

As we approached my youngest bonus son’s birthday, I found myself in a messy flood of emotions, the exact opposite of my traditional over-the-top BIG birthday approach. My mind flooded with hesitation, uncertainty, and sadness about the celebration while honoring and blending traditions. 

What is my role as a stepmom on his birthday?

My heart grieved for his mom. This was the day years ago when the mother and child united for the first time outside the womb. Seeing my daughter every year on her birthday is not declared in the legal parenting plan. It is the co-parenting commitment that I share with my ex-husband. I cannot imagine not seeing my daughter on her birthday. I cannot imagine not allowing my daughter to see her dad on her birthday. We share in the celebration of her precious life together!

My heart grieved for him. I’m standing where his mom should be standing and singing ‘Happy Birthday’ while he blows out the candles. I am not his mom. I do not want to replace her. All I want to be is a role model who loves him and his brothers unconditionally, supports them through good and bad times, and guides them through life based on my experiences. I’m a bonus mom with lots of love to give.

What is my role as a wife to support birthday traditions that my husband built with his sons?

The birthday planner in me throttled back a bit to the role of birthday supporter. My husband lived out his traditions of planning the birthday activity and picking out a cake from the grocery store. Men, keep it simple! I identified the gaps like room decor, balloons, and favorite treats and took action.    

As hard as it was to not plan a weekend of birthday festivities, our teamwork to blend our birthday traditions led to a beautiful, fun-filled celebration. We balanced normalcy with new. We achieved simplicity with a lot of love. We established our way of celebrating the special day!

Blending families means blending everything from daily routines to traditions. It takes intentional conversations. It takes patience and grace. It takes clear roles and expectations to balance the blend so the celebration will be a new BIG birthday!

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