The Making of the Evil Stepmother

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Family dynamics can be a complicated and messy topic, and my family is no exception. My parents got married while they were still in college, and while it may have seemed like they had it all together from the outside, behind closed doors, things were far from perfect.
Unfortunately, my dad was physically abusive towards my mom, and what’s even more ironic is that he left her to live with his sister, whose husband was also beating her. My mom saw the opportunity and filed for divorce, but even though she was semi-free from my dad’s abuse, he still visited from time to time.
It’s unfortunate that one of my earliest memories is of seeing my dad put my mom’s head in the stove. That kind of trauma stays with a person for a long time.
My second earliest memory is much less traumatic but still a reminder of how even as a child, I was trying to assert some control over my life. I remember cutting a braid of my hair in kindergarten and how freeing it felt, that is a story for another day.
After my parents’ divorce, my mom remarried someone who struggled with addiction. He eventually took his own life while I was in college, which honestly was an answer to prayer. I prayed daily either I would die, my mom would die or he would die. I did not want any of us to commit suicide but I felt if I died I would no longer see how the struggles with his addiction impacted my mom and our family, if my mom died I knew he would automaticaly be out of my life and lastly if he died, the problem – him would be gone.
My mom eventually found happiness again when she married an amazing man of God who showered her with the love and affection she deserved. He set a positive example for my brother and me of how a husband should treat his wife, and I’m grateful for the impact he’s had on our family.
My dad, on the other hand, was in and out of my life after the divorce. When my mom remarried, I rarely saw him. He did come to my high school graduation with his new daughter, my step-sister, and I remember praying that he would be a better father to his new kids than he was to my brother and me and he was. At that point in my life, I didn’t feel like I needed a father figure. But my dad attempted to reconcile our relationship by helping me with small tasks around my house after I bought my first home. That started a dialogue between us, and we talked. He eventually remarried when his children were in their twenties, and thus, I officially gained a stepmother.
While I didn’t see my stepmother very often, I did have a certain perception of what step-parenting involved, based on my experiences with my stepfather. I never really saw him as a “stepfather,” but rather just as a dad. However, with my stepmother, it was different. I’m not entirely sure why, but I did view her as a “stepmother.” My interactions with my stepfather were more frequent, and he taught me how to drive my first car, which happened to be a stick shift. It’s a skill that I still appreciate to this day. He has a calm and peaceful spirit, which is truly beautiful to witness.
When I became a stepmother, I thought I knew what I was getting into. After all, I had grown up with step parents and had a general idea of what step parenting involved. My stepfather was a great guy who I saw as a dad, and my stepmother was…well, let’s just say I saw her as a stepmother, for whatever reason. From that, I knew I didn’t want to be a stepmother myself. I wanted to be a “real” mother, the kind that raises children and instills certain values and shares life experiences. But that perspective was my first mistake.
It wasn’t that the children had a mother already, although that was certainly a factor. It was that I was approaching the role with a mindset that wasn’t appropriate for step parenting. Stepping in as a parent to children who weren’t my own and whose parents had already instilled their own values and life experiences was cumbersome. Issues arose that could have been avoided had I recognized that being a stepmother was a different role, with different challenges and opportunities for growth. I am not mother in any derivative of the word and because I have a perspective of parenting that I thought I would be I do not consider myself a parent either. I consider myself a person married to someone with children and thus another adult in room.