Stepmom Book Club

18 02 2009

waldmanAyelet Waldman has pulled off a magic trick – in her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits she has accurately portrayed the emotional life of a new stepmom even though she isn’t one. She’s a mom of four and married to the Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michael Chabon. But Waldman has clearly done her homework on blended family dynamics. From the opening lines you know you’re in the hands of a master writer.

The novel centers around Emilia, a stepmom who helped break up her husband’s marriage to his first wife. From the beginning we know that she has recently lost her baby to SIDS and we watch her struggle with her grief as she tries to learn how to be a stepmom to her 5-year-old stepson.

Emilia is about as flawed a character as they come. But she is so artfully drawn that I fell in love with her. I carried the book around with me for days. The tension that Waldman builds into the narrative kept me awake reading late into the night and it’s so true to what stepfamilies go through that it gave me a stomach ache and warmed my heart at the same time.

Waldman has been the object of some controversy because she wrote an essay called Motherlove in which she shared her opinion that she believes the marital relationship needs to come before all else, even the children. She got so much heat for the article that she ended up on Oprah to discuss her opinions. Of course, stepmoms understand what she’s talking about. If the marital relationship erodes in a blended family, we’re toast. It’s the weakest link. We must focus on our marriages or they will fail. That doesn’t mean we don’t love our children. This is not a zero-sum game.

I agree with Waldman. And I’m a stepmom and a mom. I must have a strong relationship with my husband or none of this will work.

If you want a heck of a read this weekend, check out this book, ladies. but I have a warning: Do not read this book if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or have an infant in the house.

Looks like Hollywood is really catching on to the drama of our lives, girls. The movie of this novel will be coming out with Natalie Portman starring as Emilia.

Already read the book? Let me know what you think!

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2 responses

4 03 2009
Peggy

I haven’t read the book, but I do have to agree that the most important relationship in ANY family is the one between husband and wife. If more moms and dads (whether you are in a nuclear family or blended family) realized this, there would be a lot less drama…a lot less arguing over children…a lot less mistrust between husband and wife.

If my husband did not treasure me above all others, what we have would not exist. Likewise, if I do not put my relationship with him first, what we have would not exist.

1 04 2009
Bobbi Jo

I absolutely agree that a family cannot ultimately thrive if the couple is not put first. I am a stepmom of three and mother of one and although my husband and I don’t necessarily agree on this, he does support our weekly “date nights” and other couple-only activities… which help us stay in love, to work out differences away from the kids, and to keep our foundation as a couple strong.

If this foundation is not strong, the family will ultimately fall apart, and divorce would result. So what is better, putting the kids first and the couple falling out of love and divorcing, or putting the couple first (really it is putting the couple AS important as the kids in my opinion) and as a result, feeling stronger and happier so we can transfer this good energy to being great parents?

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