A Healthy Stepmother is one stepmother’s attempt to take a very grief-laden, anxiety-producing, and image-busting experience and turn it back around into something tolerable. Because this stepmother-author has been a stepchild herself and watched her own mother be a stepmother, because her mother-in-law is a stepmother and the death of her husband has caused inter-generational ripples, and because this stepmother-author is now experiencing the role of stepmother for herself, she has learned a great deal about this developmental process.
Remember all the advice to take care of yourself, make time for yourself? Who listened to that, really? It might work for some, but most of us want to be there for our husbands and his kids and not be seen as someone who hates or checks out. A few of us are paranoid and jealous, but that is not this stepmother’s experience. Most stepmothers are the average woman, trying too hard, like most women try too hard, to be liked and loved. Where’s the crime in that? And, sometimes it’s a good idea to laugh, otherwise you’d cry. Think of this blog as an on-line bereavement program for the average stepmother.
Disclaimer: The jokes and ironies and stories are not meant to be creating an image of this stepmother’s life or a representation of anyone remotely related to this stepmother’s life. The content is related because of the topic and the fact that it is very difficult to find a healthy path toward being a stepfamily. Our primitive brains kick in to some reptilian survival mode and it’s the rare individual who rises above it to ask questions and bring peace. Many of the images come from what the stepmother-author has read, heard, observed. And, some stories are an amalgam of the experience of having been a stepchild herself.
PS When she read this first set of A Healthy Stepmother quotes to her husband, he said, “Ouch.” He admitted that it felt close to home for him and painful to imagine his wife in so much pain. Dear man, you are a wonderful husband and she would not do this for anyone else but you!!!
PSS If you are an adult stepchild and you are reading this and you find yourself enraged . . . please, consider that you have many options also. You have the option to sit back and look at your actions through the eyes of your adult self. Your adult self might want to have a relationship with your father. If that is so, then finding a way to recognize, respect, and honor your stepmother is the single, most direct pathway toward that goal. This is not to be confused with becoming her best friend. It is simply to offer up a greeting that is heart-felt, it is simply to listen to a story or two of what happened in her day, and to recognize that she has changed her life so you can be part of your dad’s.
PSS This stepmother holds nothing but peace-filled wishes for all the players in her extended family, including her husband’s ex-family. She thinks there is no reason to hold grudges, hate, and negativity to be carried for decades and handed on as a legacy to the next generation. There is no reason to limit anyone’s capacity or ability to be connected to another human. This stepmother-author-stepdaughter-daughter-human has lived through the abuses and tragedies that composed her childhood and young adult life, and come out on the other side with a sense that we humans are more alike than we are different. We are all doing the best we can. Here’s to that “best.”