Stepmoms Speak

1 04 2009

The Stepmom Angle

By Mrs. H.

Mrs. H. maintains a popular blog at A Stepmom’s Say.

Before I met my husband, my dating life was fairly normal. I would meet someone, go out on a date, maybe another. I had one real relationship before I met the man I eventually married. I dated this person on and off for about two years. It wasn’t a good relationship, only because he wasn’t the right man for me. We had been friends before we dated, and it should have stayed that way. Still, as imperfect as that relationship was, nobody ever question my motives for dating him. We broke up, I moved on, and through God’s grace, I met Husband.

Almost from the beginning, people questioned why I would want to date Husband. Now, I know that his friends and family were very protective-his divorce was hard on him, but I was astounded at how critical people were of me. I know that their attitude was from a place of love and concern for Husband, but I was very saddened by it all. If they could see what an amazing guy he is, why was it so hard to believe that I could too? The people that truly were Husband’s real friends came around, and the ones that didn’t are no longer of importance to him. Now that I have the ability to look back on those days with a more critical eye, I realize that dealing with this kind of third party judgmental behavior, was just a prelude to my life as a stepmom. To be sure, there are bad people in the world. Some of them are stepmoms. Some of them are moms. Neither role predisposes itself to ensuring that the person filling those particular shoes will be bad or good. But if we are being honest, stepmoms are far more criticized and placed under suspicion than moms are. People always want to know what a stepmom’s “angle” is. I believe there are a few reasons for this. First, it is not natural to actively participate in the raising of someone else’s children. Sometimes tragedy necessitates this, and when it does, we are far more able to rise to the challenge-especially if that child is of blood relation, like a niece or a nephew. Not only is it not natural, it can be incredibly painful. I can honestly say that nothing has tested me more as a human being than my life as a stepmom. The vast majority of time that I spend thinking about how to better myself as a person, revolves around my role as a stepmom. Second, even though divorce has started to become somewhat of an accepted part of our culture, I believe that divorced individuals still wear somewhat of a Scarlet Letter. While we can accept that our neighbor or fellow church member is divorced, we don’t exactly want our daughter to marry him. Further, why would our daughter want to marry him? Why wouldn’t she want to start with a “clean slate”?

Third, since infidelity seems to have become the shining example of the rich and famous, it becomes the hidden suspicion of every person who comes into contact with Wife #2 that she was “the other woman.” I know many people who are divorced for a variety of reasons-none of which include infidelity; but it satisfies our sensational minds better to think that most marriages end because of some sexual trist by one partner or another. I hate having to endure the sideways glances of the new people that we meet, wondering if I was the reason that poor Stepsons come from a broken home. I know that many people look at our marriage from the outside and wonder why I decided to marry a divorced, bankrupt man with two kids. What’s in it for me? If Husband hadn’t been divorced or had children, nobody would have ever thought to ask that question-but because he is, they do.

Other stepmom blogs, as well as mine, like to discuss the pressures of stepparenting and how this affects their lives. It is a crucial component to who we are. However, what rarely ever gets discussed, and what is just as important, is the weight of third party (including BM) scrutinization of stepmoms. Scrutiny of their motives and of them as people.

All you have to do is read through the comments on my blog or other blogs to see the veracity of this. A normal day when I write about my feelings on this or that, can draw comments accusing me of martyrdom or hatred or bitterness. Somehow, my feelings are more suspect because I am the stepmom. If I express displeasure about something, I must be bitter. If I express happiness about something, I must be selfish. If I criticize BM, I must have an inflated sense of importance, because who the hell do I think I am-I’m only the stepmother.

Forget the pressures of having four children in your home. Forget the drain on your finances or the emotional toll of legal battles. The thing that often weighs most heavily on the hearts of stepmoms is how society treats them. Despite the fact that a good number of these wonderful women do a pretty bang-up job of helping their husbands raise children that are not related to them, they are still treated as second-class citizens. Citizens, whose every move is cast with suspicion as to “what’s in it for them.”

I started feeling better about myself as a stepmom when I stopped letting these third party judgments really get to me. Anyone who thinks that way really has no clue what Husband and I are all about. Still, it can get to me, and I often think about all my online stepmom friends who I am sure go through the same thing. My blog isn’t a self-help page or a textbook diagram of a stepmom. It’s just my thoughts and deeds, in all their imperfect glory. You won’t find answers there. And if you’re looking for an “angle”…Well, I don’t have one.

Maybe my life would be a little bit more interesting to the reader if I was some spiteful, evil stepmother.Or even some selfless Mother Theresa-type giving of her everything to her husband’s first life. Unfortunately, I’m neither of those things-I don’t even look like a big-boobed trophy wife. I’m just a girl who happened to fall in love with a guy that had a little bit more of a past than most of us. And, I love him enough to accept that past as part of our future together.

There is no sainthood, martyrdom or evil plan. There’s just us, trying to figure out how to make it day-to-day.



2 responses

27 08 2009

I loved this! đŸ™‚

28 05 2011

Well said.

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