I just got a call from an Oprah producer at Harpo Studios, Heather M.! I had spoken to her right before our book came out last year, so it took me a moment to place her name on caller ID. But once I did, OH MY GOD, you could have knocked me off my chair with a pinky finger—or perhaps handed me an adult diaper, because I was going to need it!
As everyone knows, getting on the Oprah show is like the Holy Grail for authors, plus, this is her last season. I felt like I was either sleepwalking, hyperventilating, or both. This just couldn’t be happening!
So I tried to gather my wits about me and not sound like a babbling idiot on the phone. Deep breaths helped. A lot.
Not only does Heather M. want us on the show, which is totally amazing and awesome and mind-blowing in and of itself—but even better—Carol and I get to play a small part in a big announcement for a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts: improving mom and stepmom relationships while creating happier dual-families.
Here’s the deal.
Oprah’s staff is working on a show tied to Mother’s Day (happens here in the U.S. on May 9th) where they will be announcing the official proclamation of Stepmother’s Day!
What’s so cool about this is that I, as a mom, get to publicly acknowledge the important and vital role that stepmoms play in our kids’ lives—something I think other moms need to see, hear, and be thinking about.
I remember when Carol and I couldn’t stand each other, more than ten years ago. She was 21, both my ex and I were 35. I just thought the whole idea of them dating seemed insane and ridiculous (and a few other choice words as well which cannot be repeated here!).
The very thought of her interacting with MY kids on a regular basis (with either love or authority), made my hackles rise and my stomach hurt. Before Carol and I starting getting along about 8 years ago, I would have been hard-pressed to send any good wishes to her as a stepmom—much less any stepmom. Like many moms out there, I just wanted her out of my hair—and my kids’ lives.
So I was a bit slow on the uptake, but I began to realize that it’s not wise to cultivate someone who will be spending tons of time with your children as an enemy. I mean, really, even on a practical level, it’s clearly a pretty dumb thing to do. What if she took out her frustrations and tensions about ME, and our relationship, ON THEM?
Bad, bad news.
And what were we showing the kids about how you resolve conflict as adults? Weren’t we all the ones acting like children back then?
It drives me crazy. I so want moms (not “bio-moms,” remember: our kids weren’t adopted) to really GET how important it is to give their kids permission to not only like, but love their stepmom too. It sucks to put your kids in the position of having to take your side, while creating all this inner turmoil for them.
Okay… I’m sorry.
Today is April Fools Day here in the U.S. and my post is totally fake. Made-up.
There was no Oprah call (although I did actually speak to Heather M. from Harpo Studios a few times before our book came out last year).
There is no official Oprah announcement about National Stepmother’s Day.
I did a search and found conflicting information. Stepmother’s Day already exists, but it’s alternately listed as May 1st (which seems like it would piss some moms off, coming before their day). Or else it falls on the Sunday after Mother’s Day, which would make it May 16th of this year.
So which one is it? Does anyone know?
I think the fact that there isn’t a clear date only highlights the fact that stepmoms are getting a bum rap, without a clear-cut holiday. A day for their husbands to acknowledge their efforts in keeping the family humming along, to get a card from their stepkids, or to gamely eat burnt toast and raw eggs in bed. Or, you know… maybe just get the hell out of the house and go get a massage, just to be away from the little buggers, like moms sometimes do.
Isn’t it time for a definite Stepmother’s Day?
And shouldn’t we all know when that is?
After all, the majority of the kids are being raised by two women. It’s about time we all knew who they were and acknowledged their contributions. I mean—look—in elementary school, most of the kids still come from nuclear families. As you get to junior high, those numbers drop. And by the time your kids are in high school, it’s pretty rare to find kids who still live with both their parents. That seems insane, but there it is.
If you’re a mom and you find yourself annoyed by the idea of a day to recognize the stepmom in your kids’ lives, you might want to think about the fact that you wouldn’t dare leave your kids with a babysitter who seemed to be giving you the evil eye before you walked out the door (sorry, stepmoms), so why are you fine with just leaving things as shitty as they are between the two of you?
If you’re a stepmom and your hopes were dashed by this post, I do apologize. I hope that someday everyone will know when Stepmother’s Day is and the day will you a feeling of validation and support.
Who knows, maybe there’s still time for an Oprah announcement!
© 2010 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved
Our book No One’s the Bitch: A Ten-Step Plan for the Mother and Stepmother Relationship is a hands-on manual designed to help you navigate some really strange, disorienting territory. Get your bearings, learn tricks for diffusing conflict and creating cooperation, and create inner peace no matter what. Coming this month! A beta version of a brand new, in-depth, stepmom/mom transformation course… and details on private consultations.