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‘hypocrisy about stepmothering’ -- Wednesday Martin Blog -- interesting read

Posted by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 12:21 PM
  • 28 Replies

Bad Stepmother: Stepmother Secrets and Lies

Monday, August 10th, 2009

As a mother, I’ve felt tremendous relief and validation as writers (whether they’re blogging or publishing in traditional print media) have recently blown the lid off the secrets lives and feelings of mommies. They have all my gratitude and respect for letting the cat out of the bag regarding the aspects of motherhood that were not spoken of much until recently. Like how mind-numbingly dull it can be sometimes to keep up your end of a conversation with a five-year-old, how infuriating it is to sunblock a toddler, and how you’re ready for a drink (or at least a massage) by 10 a.m. some days.

Whether it’s It Sucked and Then I CriedSippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay, Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother, or any of the dozens of mommy bloggers telling it like it is, our romanticized and sentimental notions of motherhood have been replaced with a new honesty. We love our kids, but some days motherhood stinks.

When will it be okay for us to write with such brutal honesty about how much it sucks (sometimes) to be a stepmother? Why are mothers allowed to let it out, while women with stepkids are still supposed to keep it zipped? It’s hard to be a mother, sure, but it’s harder, much, much harder, to be a stepmother (I’m not going to cite the half dozen studies that say it’s so. Look them up yourself if you don’t believe me. And those stepmothers reading dobelieve me…). It’s hypocritical to expect women with stepkids to keep up a wall of silence about it for much longer, while we’re giving mothers the latitude they need and deserve to re-write our social script about what mothering is and what mothers “should” think and feel and do. A stepmother who bitches is considered unseemly, a cliche, not an interesting and important mouthpiece for a cultural shift like the mommies who bitch. This is not a competition, of course. I’m not saying Ayelet Waldman doesn’t have to take a lot of crap. Sure she does. All the mommy writers are putting themselves in the line of fire for telling the truth about how they feel about motherhood some days, and quite often they are berated for it by those who would prefer that that the veil of sentiment that distorts our concept of motherhood remain in place.

But can you imagine if a woman with stepkids dared to be that out there? It’s hard to fathom. And it doesn’t often happen. Women with stepkids are careful, I learned in my research, very, very careful indeed, about telling the truth, about disclosing how much they struggling, about confiding their ugly and taboo (but perfectly normal) feelings, and speaking honestly about less-than-perfect lifetime outcomes with His Kids. That’s why our blogs are so often anonymous or carefully edited, our conversations so hushed, our blood pressure and rates of divorce and substance use so high. We have learned the hard way that when we speak of our stepmothering experiences publicly, we will be excoriated, often viciously, if we are anything less than tactful, diplomatic, and utterly ladylike in our descriptions of life with his kids.

“You sound like a lobotomized Stepford Wife!” a friend, also a woman with stepchildren, chided me after she had watched one of my TV interviews about my book Stepmonster and stepmother reality. She was right. Like most women with stepchildren, in many of my TV appearances and radio interviews I had bent over backwards to seem reasonable, so fearful was I of being branded wicked, bitter, and all the other stepmother cliches. Which I am anyway, many times, in spite of my best efforts. It seems that advocating for women with stepkids at all is profoundly disturbing and unsettling for some tv viewers and radio listeners.

Meanwhile, over the last few months, I have received over a hundred emails from women with stepkids who confide, “I can’t blog about this because I don’t want my husband and his kids to know”; “I’m a stepfamily therapist but I have to tell you…”; “I counsel couples for a living but I’m at my wit’s end about my own remarriage with children”; “As a psychiatrist, I am just starting to accept that it makes no sense for me to make any more efforts with my husband’s young adult son”; and more. During a Canadian call-in radio interview I did last Spring, the host told me, “Something really odd is happening. No one’s calling in, but in the last 10 minutes I’ve received about 50 emails from women saying they want to call in and talk about what stepmothering is like for them–but they’re afraid someone listening will recognized their voice.”

I feel for all these women –who wouldn’t? Everyone lives a partially closeted life in some ways–there are secrets we keep and little polite lies we tell every day because it’s part of the social contract. “Nice to see you.” “Everything’s great, how about you?” But I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we relaxed our expectations of women with stepkids, allowing them the freedom to say, privately, publicly, in conversations, in print, what’s really going on with them. Is it possible for us to allow women with stepkids to describe stepmother reality without jumping on them every time they deviate from the Big Lies of stepfamily life–that it’s easy if you just love them, that it’s really worth it, that it necessarily gets better with time. Disliking stepmothers who speak up seems to me the last hold out of a kind of ugly misogyny that has otherwise waned in our culture. And as Elizabeth Church has written, the fear of being branded a stepmonster or a bitch is a tremendously effective gag.

http://www.wednesdaymartin.com/blog/tag/hypocrisy-about-stepmothering/

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 12:21 PM
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Replies (1-10):
nmaxwell816
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:08 PM

 I love this article.  It is very true.  Gladly for us stepmoms-we have CM to reach out and talk with other moms.

Thanks for the post

mallowcup17
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:11 PM

that was my thought too. so glad that there is an outlet. 

Quoting nmaxwell816:

 I love this article.  It is very true.  Gladly for us stepmoms-we have CM to reach out and talk with other moms.

Thanks for the post


nightngale83
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:16 PM
1 mom liked this
But sometimes even on cm we can't express how we truly feel among our peers (other stepmoms) without being judged critcized and crucified on how we feel.
Quoting nmaxwell816:

 I love this article.  It is very true.  Gladly for us stepmoms-we have CM to reach out and talk with other moms.


Thanks for the post


HeatherSumowski
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:16 PM
Thank you for sharing. This article made me feel amazing and normal
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
mallowcup17
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM

your welcome :)

Quoting HeatherSumowski:

Thank you for sharing. This article made me feel amazing and normal


mallowcup17
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:19 PM

((hugs)) there are definitley some strong opinions and personalities here but know that this group is here for support and we never want you to feel nervous about sharing. if you ever need to vent you can pm me personally if you don't want to do it in the group. 

Quoting nightngale83:

But sometimes even on cm we can't express how we truly feel among our peers (other stepmoms) without being judged critcized and crucified on how we feel.
Quoting nmaxwell816:

 I love this article.  It is very true.  Gladly for us stepmoms-we have CM to reach out and talk with other moms.


Thanks for the post



nightngale83
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:25 PM
Thank you I appreciate it
LWhite85
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Thank you for the article. It's nice to hear someone on the side of step-moms for a change.

MsB0521
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I love Wednesday Martin....she GETS it....and fully understands the Stepmom who doesn't have it easy.  Her book, Stepmonster, is fantastic....I read it last November and it was like...FINALLY....someone who understands the madness of MY Stepworld.  

I subscribe to her blog and she also does a lot of writing for Psychology Today and Stepmom Online Magazine.  She recently did a seminar with some other authors and counselors in NYC. I would love to see her come to my area...that's something I'd spend my money on....to hear her talk "in person."

mallowcup17
by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM

i'm gonna have to pick up one of her books! i remember you mentioned her when i found the article. 

Quoting MsB0521:

I love Wednesday Martin....she GETS it....and fully understands the Stepmom who doesn't have it easy.  Her book, Stepmonster, is fantastic....I read it last November and it was like...FINALLY....someone who understands the madness of MY Stepworld.  

I subscribe to her blog and she also does a lot of writing for Psychology Today and Stepmom Online Magazine.  She recently did a seminar with some other authors and counselors in NYC. I would love to see her come to my area...that's something I'd spend my money on....to hear her talk "in person."


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