Step-mothers: they get a bad rap. From Cinderella and Snow White, to the unlikeable Baroness Von Schrader in The Sound of Music, they’re often portrayed as cold, useless, unfriendly – or downright evil.
But behind the unfavourable Disney portrayal, there’s a whole different story – one of joy, friendship and true love.
On Mother’s Day, HuffPost UK spoke to daughters about the unbreakable bond they have with their step-mums.
‘Before she got married to my father, we were already best friends’
Precious Gaza, 24, lives with her dad and step-mother Linda Gaza, 45, in Abuja, Nigeria
“My step-mum came into my life when I was six years old. Before she got married to my father, we were already best friends! My dad used to drop me off after school at hers for babysitting. I guess that’s how they fell in love – so I pretty much had a hand in this marriage, because we were inseparable.
“I’m now grown, and we’re still very good friends. We talk about almost everything – and have fights, too; like every mother-daughter relationship. She’s the kindest woman I know. I suffer from a blood condition called sickle cell disease, and she’s been my primary caretaker since I was a child. People who don’t know she’s my step-mum can’t even tell, because she loves me wholeheartedly. I love her too and feel blessed, every day, to be able to call her “mother”.
“I was recently speaking to my step-mum about overcoming ‘mum guilt’ and taking time to treat herself – so I booked her in to get a facial. After she’d finished, she went and got herself some shoes. She said retail therapy works – and she feels energised for the week. I love to see it!”
‘She is the glue that holds our family together’
Annabelle Wright, 26, lives in London. She recently went on a family holiday to France to celebrate her step-mother, Blair’s, 40th birthday
“When I first met Blair, I was an awful teenager who was determined to not like my dad’s new girlfriend. Now, they’ve been married six years, together for more than a decade, and Blair is truly the glue that holds our family together.
“I was hesitant to use the word ‘step-mum’ for a really long time, because I have a mum who is wonderful and raised me and my three siblings after my parents got divorced. But now I do, and she’s wonderful.
“Blair has never tried to be a ‘parent’ to me in the traditional sense. We have a funny story about the first holiday we went on as a family, where she asked me and my siblings to argue more quietly – but she is so many other things. She’s my mentor – she works in HR, so is my go-to for work advice, which was a godsend when I fist left university. She continues to encourage me to ask for more, and strive to be the best I can.
“I’m certain that without her, we wouldn’t be as close as a family, or as good at keeping in touch with our dad. She’s the person to get the diary out and plan exactly when we’ll all see each other next.
“She continues to encourage me to ask for more, and strive to be the best I can”
“Blair is also always the first and last person on the dance floor! My friends are all envious of our family bottomless brunches or nights out, because her energy is infectious. I’m also in awe of her keeping her heels on, all night long!
“She’s an incredible role model, too – she works with the charity Steel Warriors alongside a very demanding job at a city law firm, and acts as a school governor at a school. She’s the biggest cheerleader of us and her friends, and it makes me want to be a better friend, daughter, sister and colleague.”