I sometimes like to think of weird things that might have extremely large numbers assigned to them.
…How many breaths each and every creature that’s ever lived has taken, all together.
…How many times the clouds have passed over the sun as someone looked skyward.
…How many times you’ve eaten lunch.
…How many times your name has been called.
When a family dissolves by divorce, we’re typically not expecting to add any extra names to the list of cast members.
When we marry into a new stepfamily, it can feel vaguely insulting to have the name of the ex randomly interjecting itself into our every day.
And yet, there they are: the unwanted. The new woman.
Even the terms we use for each other are loaded:
Just the stepmom.
The crazy ex-wife.
The evil stepmother.
Why do we speak this way about each other?
When our aim is to cut the other woman’s legs out from under her before she even gets started, we should be suspicious of our motives.
Do stepmoms ever refer to their husbands as the “bio-father” or is he simply, “the father?” What about their own mothers (unless they were adopted or raised by someone else)?
Are moms aware of the fact that stepmoms are likely performing most of the hands-on tasks to take care of the children? As women, we already know: how can anything be “just…” about that?
ALL of those ex-wives can’t really be crazy. There’s too many of them.
And why are we STILL living in a culture where the cheap and easy trick for creating a villain in a kid’s movie is to give them a stepmom?
So it’s good to ask….
What might we secretly fear about the other woman?
What power are we attributing to her that we want to take away by denigrating her name?
In what ways might we be totally clueless about who she really is?
And isn’t it a shame that we don’t have a name to use for each other that acknowledges our familial ties to each other — and allows for the potential growth of love and affection?
© 2011 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved