Mar 20, 2007

In Search of a Step 'n Bitch

So I've been trolling the internet for fellow stepmoming bloggers. There don't seem to be very many. And those that I have found, well, I've got to say I'm not really feeling the warm embrace of humor and common sense.

I guess I'm somewhat pleased to learn that I'm not alone in having a hard time--indeed, some seem to have a much harder time, in some ways--but so much of it seems to be caused by the stepmothers. And honestly, if I, who am predisposed to sympathize with them, see it that way, then crikey, what must the mothers of the children think?

Which brings me to what seems to be a touchy issue: naming. Though Guy and I aren't married, I refer to myself as a stepmom. This wasn't really my idea; any sort of "mom" word in reference to me is somewhat panic attack-inducing. However, Girl had been asking me what to call me; was I her aunt? Was I her other mom? Friend didn't seem to do it for her. She would ask, were Daddy and I going to get married so that I could be her stepmom? Would it be soon? Finally, I told her that if she wanted, she could just call me her stepmom anyway, since we lived together and since Daddy and I loved each other and loved her. It seemed to satisfy her. And eventually I got used to the idea--I doubt much of anything will change when Guy and I do decide to get married. There is a name for the role I play in Boy and Girl's lives, and I might as well accept the title if I'm going to take on the job.

However. I would never, ever, refer to myself as their mother. Nor would I ever allow them to do so (and not just because it's written in the Divorce Agreement either). A friend of mine, on announcing their engagement to her boyfriend's children, was asked if they could now call her "mom." She couldn't say GOOD GOD NO fast enough. Mrs. H, on the other hand, thinks that it is unacceptable for the mother to be angry about the kids calling Mrs. H "Mom." And she doesn't want to go to teacher conferences with the mother, because it is "allows her to play her favorite game of trying to prove she is more mommy than me." Jeez. This is the kind of stuff that got us labeled Wicked Stepmothers in the first place. She is more mommy than you, lady. She's their mom. And since she's showing up to teacher conferences, I'm guessing she isn't exactly out of the picture. Back off.

So yeah, I don't think I'm going to be reading Mrs. H anytime ever. The Wicked Stepmother seems to have her head more firmly attached to her neck, with no spinning-all-the-way-around capabilities. But she too has a naming tic: she buys into the trend of calling the mother the "BioMom." Now, the role of the stepmother is important. Boy and Girl are with us half the time--I see them as often as their mother does. But my role is undeniably secondary, and that is as it should be. Qualifying the word mom by tagging a "bio" in front of it is not only silly--sorry, were we confused? Did the word mother not automatically imply a biological connection?--but self-aggrandizing. Stepmother has a qualifier because it isn't the same thing as a mother, and that should be made clear for the benefit of the children (not to mention for the benefit of me. I cling to that "step." It means that the screamed "It's not fair!"s won't be directed at me). Mothers don't need qualifiers. Their role is clear, and muddling it will only make divorce more confusing and upsetting.

I'm going to do a bit more poking around, I think.

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