As I churned the marshmallows in the large stainless steel pot, readying them for Rice Krispie treats, my phone rang twice. One stepdaughter was asking to go out to a party following Ultimate Frisbee practice. The second stepdaughter was going out as well. For now, they had the same destination, but different curfews.
As I hung up from the first, who I encouraged to go despite the early curfew, telling her she needed the practice to drive, her last words were “I love you,” streaming forth from the speaker though I had already set down the phone and hit “end” to stir so the marshmallows wouldn’t burn.
A similar situation occurred with the second. As I was hanging up, trying to keep the Rice Krispies from popping, an “I love you” was quickly muttered.
I was pleasantly surprised at how both conversations ended, but instantly my mood turned sour when I thought about Kyron Horman, the missing Oregon boy. More so, I thought about his stepmother who had been in the headlines of every Google News column and People magazine caption.
Stepmothers get a bad rap, and I tire of it easily. The girls have done things on occasion that I am certain their mother would have found abhorrent, and certainly would have disciplined them in a harsher manner than I did. The “evil stepmother” term has probably been tossed around behind my back, but I take comfort – and humor – in that.
And the fact remains, I am still here. I wash their laundry. I am at the other end of the phone when they call to tell me good news. I drive them to colleges and orientation, encourage them to shop for new clothes, which they don’t often do (who are these girls, right?). I am not perfect, nor do I have the patience for their nonstop speeches when I am ready for bed at 10 p.m. But I am still here.
A good friend told me one of her acquaintances in Arizona referred to her stepchildren as “bonus” children, and she their “bonus” mother. In our case, I tell folks, we are a blended family, but the girls are all mine. By this I mean, I treat them as if I birthed them. Sometimes there are discrepancies in my tone with my son vs. them, but there is also room to point out how different it is in raising girls and boys.
If Kyrons’ stepmom is responsible, shame on her. She will get what she deserves and most likely not be a part of any family that some one would trust her with. Mostly, shame on Disney, the Brothers Grimm, and the other fantastical media breathlessly waiting to type out, “The child’s stepmom…” They should work harder to find a better ending, I know I did.