Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms
After moving in with my husband and his children, my goal was to be the best stepmom ever. I never wanted to hear, “You’re not my mom! You can’t tell me what to do!” So, I started asking friends for advice, and I logged online to find step-parenting advice books. I only found self-help books, and I prefer reading people’s stories. But, being desperate, I decided I’d buy a few.
My husband found me upstairs and asked what I was doing. I told him I was buying books to help me as a stepmom. He looked at the computer and my “shopping cart” and exclaimed, “You need six books?” I argued, “Well, I want to be the best stepmom I can be!” He said he understood, but suggested starting with two.
Later, a friend and fellow stepmom told me of a book about a stepmom’s journey, by Sally Bjornson. One part especially resonated and became a catalyst for writing my book. To paraphrase, she said, “When a woman gets married, she is given a wedding shower, and when she gets pregnant, she is given a baby shower; when she marries a man with kids, she is given a bottle of wine and told, ‘Good luck!’” This is so true. No one tells you what you are in for. No one has sage, helpful advice. In fact, no one really talks about this mysterious role of stepmom. This is odd to me as more than half of all families are “blended”. The traditional family barely exists anymore, yet the topic of step-parenting is taboo.
Over my ten years as a stepmom, I have gathered stories of my experiences, and each week at the nail salon, I would share a story. One day, my manicurist said, “You should write a book. You tell great stories.” At lunch with a friend, I shared a story about my stepdaughter, and she said, “You should write a book. I think your experiences would be inspirational.” On another occasion, a stepmom friend and I were at lunch sharing our trying experiences, when she said that I should write a book including other stepmoms’ experiences as well as my own. Well, my belief is that when we hear something several times, there must be something to it. So, I decided to write a book.
Those moments led me to this point, with a book that is a compilation of stories from real life stepmoms’ adventures. It has been a therapeutic experience, hearing these women tell their stories. Hearing their stories was akin to being in a stepmom support group.
My goal is to eradicate the idea of the “evil stepmother”. That fairytale is ridiculously old, yet, sadly, nothing has come along to replace it, even though there are thousands of blended families. Nancy Recker, from an article in stepmommag.com. points out, in her fact sheet on the wicked stepmother myth, that there are more than 900 such stories touting negative step-mother stereotypes. I am not an “evil stepmom”. I love my step-kids. It took time, of course, but over the years that love has grown. My hope is that my book of real stories from real stepmoms will lessen the fear of this taboo subject and will start us all talking about the struggles and successes of stepmoms everywhere.
My book, Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms, is scheduled for release early 2016 from 4RV Publishing. In the meantime, I am blogging and posting weekly. Please visit my blog at stepmomshawn.com and my Facebook page: Stepmom Shawn Simon Says.
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