Sunday, 18 January 2009 skid, no family

Well it's been a while, but at last, DP and I have managed to have a weekend at home, to ourselves, without SD or having to visit any family. Blissful! DP doesn't leap out of bed on these weekends, full of guilt that SD is downstairs on her own having had to pour her own bowl of cereal and watch cartoons by herself until he's woken up. Hard life being a kid, y'know. We've done things at our own pace, what we feel like, when we feel like it. 'Let's go to the pub and have Sunday lunch'. 'OK then' and off we go.

2/3 of the time, we live the life of an average professional couple with no kids, and then 1/3 of the time we have to morph into suburban family. It's weird, feels like living a double life. I have to admit, I look forward to these weekends that DP and I have to ourselves, probably more than I should. It's selfish, I know, but the weekends that we're with SD, DP is just on another planet, and doesn't always remember to remember me, hello, your partner, no, I am a person, not just a cook/dishwasher/rememberer of school uniforms and books. Away on planet parent....wheeeee, off he goes, and it seems like I don't exist beyond being a facilitator of that. And then, come Monday morning, down he comes, and he's back to being my boyfriend again. Maybe it's a facet of the male inability to multitask that they have difficulty fulfilling two roles at a time.

I will be away next weekend, and won't see SD at all. The way I've been feeling lately, it's not a bad thing. I have been depleted, energy-wise, and the last thing I have wanted when I've managed to limp into the weekend is child-noise and debris - I have longed for a few moments of quiet just to gather my own thoughts. I feel bad for this, because I know I haven't been giving SD the attention and the focus that I usually do, but I guess it's how I get when I haven't even got that energy for myself - I start to get a bit protective of my space and time.

But I got a raise at work, and passed an exam, so it's overall been a good weekend. I've had the chance to recharge my batteries, so by the time I come back from my break next weekend, I will hopefully feel more positive, and have some more energy to put into stepmothering.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The confessional is now open for business

I thought of a hundred and one ways to start this blog. Most of them things that I thought would be catchy, snappy. Clever. You know, like 'the internet is the newest form of therapy' or 'if it isn't on Facebook, it didn't happen' or some witticism about blogs being like the confessional (which I guess they are, but somebody out there, I'm sure, has already said it).

Witticisms, however, are not what this is about. Wicked Steppie's blog is about what it's really like - warts and all - to be a modern stepmother. Well, technically, I suppose I am not a stepmother, as I'm not married yet to my dear partner (henceforth to be known as DP). But - like all 21st century things, the boundaries are a tad blurry these days, and marriage is not the institution of permanent definition it once was, but because we still retain our anxiousness to give things labels, then what I call myself is a 21st century stepmum.

If we examine the word 'stepmother' then we have 2 words. 'step' which implies that we are stepping into something. And 'mother' which meant of course, back in the day, a stepmother effectively became the mother - 'stepped' into the mother's role, as to get a stepmother would have meant that your biological mother (or BM) had died. These days, in most stepmother situations, biological mother (BM) is alive, well, and usually kicking (and sometimes screaming). So, unless BM is completely incapable, the 21st century stepmother is not stepping into anything like a mothering role. But there is no word, label, or role defined for the partner or spouse of a divorced parent. Language hasn't caught up with reality. So we are stuck with being 'stepmother' like an ill-fitting piece of clothing that is full of holes but we can't bring ourselves to discard quite yet.

So who is Wicked Steppie?

Suffice to say that Wicked Steppie is a part time stepmother - that is to say, mostly a weekend one. But just because the kid/s are not around physically all the time, doesn't mean they're not always around. In the life of a stepmother, the stepkids are often either the main topic of conversation, even when they aren't there, or the elephant in the room. I have one stepchild - a girl, ten years old - who manages to take up an awful lot of space in our lives, even when not physically present. One thing as a stepmother that you have to live with is that the first thing people will say when you walk into the room with your other half is 'Where's the kids'?. It's not 'hi, how are you' or 'lovely to see you' or even 'what the hell are you doing here?' it's always 'where's the kids'? And sometimes, it's even your own family doing it!

The other factor in Wicked Steppie's life is that she does not have kids of her own. This adds an extra dimension to the stepmothering experience. There will always be people ready to helpfully point out that you don't get it because you don't have kids of your own, and will be very surprised by the venomous response that comes back. And the head of those helpful people is very often my own DP, who has often been known to run for cover after dropping this pearl of wisdom into an argument. He's learning - perhaps not learning to refrain from saying it, but learning that if he does decide to say it, he needs to be a long way from me when he does. It's an odd thing, you see. I know it's a very true statement that I do not know what it's like to be a parent. It is a fact. I am an odd sort of parent-nonparent hybrid - not quite a complete nonparent, as my life is in part dictated by the fact that there is a child in it in a way that say an aunt's life would not be dictated by the presence of a niece or nephew - there is no contact schedule with a niece or nephew, no child support. But I am not a parent either, as I have no biological tie or legal responsibility to this child. And having to watch DP be a parent to another woman's child and feel completely excluded from a whole part of the life of the man you love - those who say 'you're not a parent, you don't get it' might think twice if they knew what that felt like. Salt, open wound.

So this is the start of the Confessions of a Wicked Stepmother. I liked the word 'wicked' - it seemed fitting with being a 21st century stepmother, that it has a double meaning. The question is, is Wicked Steppie wicked or just plain wicked? ;)