What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by  Samantha.

What I want you to know about being a stepmom is that not all of us make our stepchildren scrub our stone floors. (Mainly because I don’t have stone floors.) Yes, the cliche is often true; being a stepmom is one of the most thankless jobs in the world. But what I want you to know is that not all of us expect thanks. We don’t take on this role for the glory or the appreciation or the “This is so hard!” laments.

We take on this role because we married a man with children.

We LOVE this role because we love our stepchildren.

What I want you to know about being a stepmom is that, when people find out, the first thing they ask me is “Do the kids like you?” (Yes.) The next thing they want to know is “Do you get along with their mom?” (Yes.) And, usually, the conversation either ends because there’s no drama to discuss OR they ask me when I’m going to have my “own children”.

What I want you to know is that my stepchildren ARE my children. I love them like they are my own flesh and blood and yes, before you ask, their mom is aware of this. I take them to school, I go to their t-ball games, I cook their breakfasts, their lunches and their dinners. I tuck them in at night, I read bedtime stories, I give them baths and I oblige when they ask me to lay with them and scratch their backs. I hug them, I kiss them, I put band-aids on their scrapes and I talk to them about why they are so upset. I discipline them, I teach them manners and I take them on bike rides.

They are my children.

But what I want you to know about being a stepmom that loves her children is that I know I am not their mom. I do not try to be their mom, but when they are with my husband and me, I am THE mom in the house. I think they are the luckiest kids in the world to have four loving parents and I will never think that I am the most important person to them.

But they are, without a doubt, the most important people to me.

When we have more children, those children will not be treated any differently than my stepchildren. I will proudly tell everyone that the little one has an older brother and an older sister. I will consider my biological child to be my youngest of three and I will have my stepchildren involved as much as possible with their new brother or sister. There will be no difference in how I love all three of my children.

But only one of them will call me “mama.”

What I want you to know about being a stepmom is that I had a choice. I could’ve refused to marry a man with children. I could’ve decided a long time ago that this relationship wasn’t the one I wanted and I could’ve ended it, so don’t pity me. Don’t tell me “Oh that must be so hard” or “It sucks that your husband already had children.” I had time to figure things out. My husband told me, time and time again, that he understood if this wasn’t what I wanted; I didn’t have to be a stepmom.

But I am so very glad that I am.

What I want you to know about being a stepmom is that, yes, it might be the most thankless job in the world according to society, but who cares what they think? My husband appreciates me and my stepchildren’s mother appreciates me.

And my biggest judges? At four and seven, they may not always understand our lives and our situation, but they love me more than words can say. And that’s enough “thanks” for me.