A Healthy Stepmother . . . and 44 stepmothers.

I know 44 stepmothers.

One day, curious, with many names rattling in my head, I took a few minutes to jot a very quick list of all my relatives, friends, clients, and providers who are stepmothers, like me. I immediately came up with 44 women from four generations across three countries.

I’m still not sure why I find this significant, except to say what we already know, we stepmothers are everywhere.

I was having coffee with a stepmother friend and she realized that her mother had also been a stepmother. She hadn’t really thought about it, but in fact, there it was; her own mother. For me, I have a mother, a sister, a sister-in-law, two mother-in-laws, a niece, a hair stylist, and three close friends who were all stepmothers. And, the list goes on.

A Healthy Stepmother . . . and 44 stepmothers.

The oldest generation of the stepmothers I know, now in their 70s, didn’t have support. They were silent, the irony of hailing from the silent generation. The women I know of that generation didn’t have many choices. Society prescribed for them what they would do and not do and there really wasn’t a choice about showing up or not. And, I think they had a lot of painful experiences, silently.

In my generation, too young to be a baby boomer and too old to be a Generation X, technically referred to as a Generation Jones, many of us came into our second marriages quite late. Many of the friends I count in my 44 stepmothers were in their 40s when they became a stepmother, some in their 50s. Somehow, I think being closer to 50 flavored how I went about this process of becoming a stepmother. Add in the extra bonus of going through perimenopause in the midst of integrating into a group of strangers, let’s just say it’s no wonder a few years ago at the Thanksgiving dinner table, I gave thanks for not having killed anyone (figuratively speaking, of course).

Another generation of my friends, in their late 30s and into their early 40s, is in the thick of bearing children. That means that in the midst of the craziness of intense bipartisanship on every issue under the sun, and bitter custody and parenting battles, these women are trying to survive with very small children in the midst of some very difficult challenges. My hat is off to them and they motivate me to write, write, write and bring a voice to stepmother issues.

And, the youngest generation of stepmother women I know, in their very early 20s, has their chin held high and is bravely marching into this confusing maze of family disintegration and re-integration before they’ve had a chance to think about whether that’s what they want or not. I’ll be watching this generation to see if they find a way to solve the stepmother dilemma. Maybe the mothers of this millenial generation will actually acknowledge the ways another woman in their child’s life is a positive instead of a negative. We’ll see, we need time to help us out with our conclusions there.

And, of course, many women don’t fit the description the way I broke it down here. That will always be the case since there are no neat and tidy delineations. One of the hardest things about analyzing stepmothers and stepfamilies is that every single case is unique. The age of a woman when she becomes a stepmother is significant, but so is age of the children and how the mother of the children thinks of herself. Not only that, there’s the age of a father and what generation he belongs to and what the expectations are for him in his peer group and how he feels about himself and his relationship with his ex and on, and on, and on.

I want peace for all 44 of these women, they are my friends and my family! And, peace for all women who choose to marry a man with children. Not only that, I want peace for all the mothers out there, many of whom seem tormented, because often (not always, but often) kids will have peace when their moms’ have peace.

I know 44 stepmothers. I’m still shaking my head.

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9 thoughts on “A Healthy Stepmother . . . and 44 stepmothers.

  1. I wish I knew any stepmothers lol. Actually, I know two, but they both live far away (500 and 2500 miles) and their stepkids are teens, wheras mine are pretty young, so we have very different challenges. My family is composed of either single mom’s with absent dads, or the more traditional stay at home mom types still iwth their high school or collgege sweethearts. Thank goodness for the interwebs or I would still be flying blind.

    • You’re not alone Headstrong Damsel! Read back through Kim’s posts and read the comments, too. They are lots of us out here. This blog has helped me so much in recognizing that altho I know few stepmothers in person, I am not alone. My feelings matter and are valid, AND there are so many ways to make our lives a little easier. Kim has great suggestions. Do what I did: Go to the top right where it says previous posts, and every day, pick one starting at the beginning. Read it and think about for the rest of the day. Then pick a new one and keep going…..
      Take care!

      • Wow, Lana….that’s a great idea. I’ll admit once in a while when I’m feeling very confused about what I think on a given day, I do the same thing. Comforting myself and sharing that with others. The best!

    • Sigh……I wish everyone had a stepmom friend right around the corner. I found a great friend online by seeing her comment on Wednesday Martin’s blog and sent her an email. I was so grateful she had included a link to her own blog. In fact, I did that with two others also. LOL, I must be a stalker. It turned out great. And, welcome here!

  2. I am the only step mother amongst my friends and family. At times, a very lonely and dark place indeed. My friends and family offered great support, endless hours of listening, and love but they didn’t have any on-hands experience with that in which I was dealng/working with/against.

    I am grateful for the online support I found. I am not sure I would have survived (there were so many times I didn’t think I had it in me) the turmoil that had catapulted its way into my life when I married a terrific guy with ugh! two kids who found my presence to be wholly unacceptable.

    Kim, Wednesday, and so many others have been gracious and generous in sharing their stories and experiences. I no longer feel so alone, for which I offer endless gratitude.

    • There is nothing like the support of another stepmother. I don’t mean to diss anyone else that’s important in our lives, but it’s not the same. It’s like me trying to commiserate with a mother and I don’t have children. Or, if I’d never been at the bedside of all my dying relatives and trying to understand what that was like for someone who was. You know what I mean.

      I think this is the beauty of the internet. Lots of ugliness about it and it’s uses, sometimes. But this is one way the web of companionship and compassion can thrive. Best to you!!

  3. I just want to thank you for writing this blog…I am not a good writer and I am horrible at articulating my feelings into words so I share these messages on my facebook for two reasons…1 so that my family and friends can understand how being a step mom affects my life and that it isn’t just me that feels the way I do and 2 so that others may have the opportunity to find your blog and receive the peace it has given me. Thank you Kim, you make me wish I lived in Oregon. Steff

    • Hello Stephanie, welcome here!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the blog. It does make a difference to know we aren’t alone. It’s why there are clubs the world over for this and that. Now, maybe we’re beginning to have more places for stepmothers to gather and share and take heart. I’m glad you found that in these pages. I’ll look forward to hearing more from you.

  4. Pingback: A Valentine to Our Stepmother - Far From Normal

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