So, I was cruising around the internet while my husband was out camping with the big dog and I was home with the little dog focused on updating my website and other general tasks that modern stepmothers do. It’s been a few weeks since I was over at Stepmother’s Milk, but tonight I noticed that there’s a comment on a post about Stepmoms Dealing with Moms and one commenter said she found the post offensive.
My first reaction was to laugh and think to myself, welcome to the world of a stepmother trying to find where she fits, only this was a mom reading a stepmom’s site. The reason this mom didn’t like the post was because she couldn’t see where she fit, in my opinion. It wasn’t written with her in mind. It was written for stepmothers who struggle in their relationship with their husband’s ex-wife.
So, I sat back and pondered the offended woman’s comments in the larger context of the cultural stories we’re telling ourselves about each other. Don’t you think, like I do . . . that there are good mothers and sorta-attentive mothers and overly-involved mothers and neglectful mothers and even some bad mothers? And, aren’t there good fathers and sorta-attentive fathers and overly-involved fathers and neglectful fathers and even some bad fathers?
And, aren’t there good kids and overly people-pleasing kids and slothful kids and even some acting out kids? Even good stepmothers and sorta-attentive stepmothers and overly-involved stepmothers and neglectful stepmothers and even some bad stepmothers? We could keep going down the list of roles and job titles and find good teachers and not-so-good teachers, good doctors and bad doctors. And on and on and on.
My point is that not all stepmothers are mean or jealous. Not all mothers are horrible and angry. Not all ex-husbands are deadbeat, hurtful, or resentful. And no group is ever homogenous. I think it behooves all of us to quit spreading stereotypes. Stereotypes about stepmothers, mothers, and fathers are as bad as racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes. We are slowly educating ourselves that those seemingly broader social stereotypes are not appropriate but we continue living as if the Evil Stepmother or the Jaded Ex-Wife stereotypes are true.
No one is ever any one thing.