First, I must sincerely thank you all for your kind comments, support, and understanding during my bloggy break. I hope you can forgive my absence. I will do my best to explain myself in this loooong post (sorry!)
Disclaimer: this post is very honest and involves my own experiences. It is not easy to talk about and it’s hard to explain. It may offend some of you. Some of you may dislike me after reading it and choose to not come back. If so, I apologize for offending you but I hope you can understand my side of the story too; I will not apologize for the truth.
The definition of wicked: morally bad in principle or practice.
Several years ago, I read the book, Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, and loved it! However, at that time, I never knew how much I would someday be able to relate to Elphaba, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of The West. She is described as, “a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.” (Wicked description) You see, I’m a stepmother.
When you hear the word stepmother, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For many people it’s wicked, witch, evil, nasty, mean . . . the list is endless really. Let’s be honest, most people do not see, or hear, the word and think love, rainbows, and lollipops.
Well, frankly, I don’t think I’m a wicked or evil person. In fact, before I became a stepmother, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would describe me as anything but nice, sweet, loving, or loyal. If anything, I might be described as too accommodating or too nice (I’m not saying I didn’t have my bad days people, no one’s perfect, least of all me).
Well, out of the blue, last week, just before the bloggy pause, I got a phone call from someone in Todd’s family. This phone call was very accusatory, very judgy. Very, you are not a good enough stepmother. You need to step up and clean up after his mother. You need to love him like your own. Like Kaia. If you loved Todd you would love him. There was a lot said. It was like a water hose really. And by a water hose I mean a lot of cold, strong, water slapping me in the face that kept coming and I couldn’t hardly breathe, let alone talk and defend myself. Well, then defend myself I tried. It’s very hard to explain to someone who is not a stepmom what being a stepmom is like.
Oh, on the surface it seems simple enough, love and be loved. It won’t be that hard. You are the grown-up. The child is suffering. The outbursts and meanness are justified and understandable, love through it.
You might be a stepchild. You might have a friend, a sibling, an aunt who is a stepmother or a stepchild. They might have shared their stories – good or bad. But, the truth is, stepmothering is hard. It is not cut and dry. It is not always as simple as love and be loved. Every once and awhile it is. These stepmothers and their stepchildren are lucky. Or, they are liars.
I’ve been a stepmother for almost two years now. We have had my stepson here, with us for one summer, and lots of holidays and vacations. It has never been easy. It’s never been stress free. In fact, I get sick, literally sick, with worry before each and every visit, wondering what we will face that particular visit. There are fights over food – any food that is not peperoni pizza or chicken nuggets – there are full out tantrums at the store – even gas stations – when every whim is not caved to. There are I hate you’s and I want my Mommy’s (not from us, if you started to wonder). There is not listening. Not following rules because, really, who could blame him? Rules are a foreign concept at the other house. There are no thank you’s . . . ever. There’s more but you get the picture.
But, in one summer (and by one summer, I mean about a month and a half because that’s the point I realized there was a problem), before he went to kindergarten, I taught my stepson how to say the alphabet without skipping a couple of letters. I taught him how to recognize every single letter (he only knew the one’s in his name). I taught him his phone number and his address. I made sure he got to go to karate and swim lessons. I took him to the park and outside to play. I held his hand. I made him lunches and dinners. And, did I mention I gave birth this summer? To my first baby, too? My first. Do you remember what it was like when you had your first baby?
Well, I don’t love him like my own. He’s not my own. He never will be. He has a mother. She may not raise him like I would. I may not agree with one thing she does. But she does love him. And he loves her. I do care about him. I think what I’ve done for him and what I continue to do, should speak for itself. I do understand that this, the divorce and remarriages, have been hard on him, confusing.
But, please, don’t for one second think that just because I’m the adult, it means it’s not hard on me. No one likes being told they are hated. No likes being disrespected and mistreated. I don’t care if your five or 95.
And please, take your judgments and hang-ups somewhere else.
Then, if you’re still with me, which God Bless you if you are! If you are a stepmom, a stepchild, or a friend of a stepmom, please, go read Stepmonster. It really explains the stepmom’s side, through facts and extensive research, much like Wicked, it really might change your preconceived notions about the nature of stepmothers and “good and evil”.