Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: The New Breed Mama’s initial thoughts on Wednesday Martin’s book, ‘Stepmonster’

Step-mothers usually struggle with adapting to their new role. For some it is harder than others. There are a variety of different factors that can influence how a woman adapts to this new role. Every New Breed Mom is different. There is no exception to this rule, especially with respect to being a Step-Mother. With that said, I have some mixed emotions about Wednesday’s book.

Recently, I have been searching the internet high and low, reading everything I can find about step-motherhood searching for the answers to my own personal questions. How can I be a great step-mom? What kind of relationship do I want to have with my step-child’s mother? Does my step-son’s mother feel threatened by the very active role I play in his life? What should I expect as time goes on and my “blended family” progress?

By the way, I do not like the term “blended family”. There is something about that term that makes me feel like I am somehow forcing everyone to mesh together, and that is not the case at all with my family. They are my family, plain and simple. My husband, who is my son’s step-father, my step-son who is my son’s step-brother, and me who gets the pleasure of being both mom and step-mom to two very different and very lovable seven year old boys.

The book, ‘Stepmonster’, is advertised all over the internet as being the best thing since sliced bread for women who are step-mothers. “Finally, a book just for step-mothers! I finally feel as if I am understood!” - the bloggers post. There are a ton of positive book reviews ranting and raving about how this book oh-so-accurately tells it like it is, and all from a step-mothers point of view.

Reading, all this positive hype, I eagerly visited the website , where I found yet more (imagine that!) positive hype about this book. It must have been my lucky day, because, that very afternoon, Wednesday herself was going to be answering questions live on Facebook! On StepMom magazine’s FB page to be exact. Of course I attended the cyberspace event and I even posted a question to Wednesday herself. I appreciated her answer and also noticed that her answers were very appropriate in respect to others questions as well.

At this point in time, I had already ordered the book off of , and was fervently awaiting its arrival! Well, it arrived last night and I have begun my reading. This is one of those books, that if given to me a on a weekend, I would have curled up in my big chair and read the whole thing cover-to-cover. However, it is the middle of a work week, not to mention, the middle of a work week during my hectic and crazy life as a New Breed Mom! So, I’m on chapter four, and I’m having some very mixed emotions about this book.

There are certain excerpts that really hit home. For example, “..the experiences and emotions of the woman with stepchildren matter just as much as anyone else’s.” And, “At times, the issues and emotions that surface in this most overdetermined role can lead us to act in ways we have never acted before – jealous, angry, “vindictive”, like the classic stepmonster – and do things we never suspected we were capable of.” And, “Stepmothering does not happen in a vacuum, but rather within a force field of other relationships.”

There are also parts of the book that make my stomach squirm. In particular, the section that discusses “The Myth of the Maternal Stepmother,” and blatantly implies (pretty much states) that the majority of step-mothers do not feel at all so motherly towards their children. This bothers me. Maybe it’s because the author of ‘Stepmonster’ walked into her role of step-mother while her step-children were adolescents so the viewpoint regarding "maternal stepmothers" is slanted? Maybe it’s because I love my step-son so dearly – dare I say I love him as my own? Maybe it’s because I’m still adapting to my own role as a step-mother? Maybe it is because I don’t have a clue? Regardless of the reason, reading this section of the book felt like someone punched me in the gut.

Because of all of the publicity surrounding this book, in addition to my positive take on Wednesday’s blog and advice rendered on FB, I will refrain from saying I disagree or dislike the book – at least until I read it in its entirety and engage in some self-reflection on the topic.

In the mean time, I’d be curious to know, from other step-mother’s, what do you believe your role is in your step-children’s lives? Also if you have step-mother, what was her role like in your life?


Angie said...

I'm not a step-mom, but my kids have a wonderful (ex) step-mother and step-sister. Even tho their dad divorced her several years ago, she has remained in their lives and I appreciate that. She was always good to my boys and encouraged their visits with their dad. We continue to invite her to family functions like graduations and weddings. In fact, she attended my brother's wedding 2 years ago, as did my ex-husband and his new wife. I know Rosemary loves my boys and considers them her kids too :)

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