Showing posts from November, 2011

Play Your Position

“When I grow up, I really want to be a stepmom.”  Who says that?  Understudy, back-up quarterback, substitute teacher, adjunct. Know the role, play it when something bad happens to the lead, the star, the tenured one. Get ripped by critics, commentators, students. Are these all people who missed the mark? Are stepmoms just failed aspirants? Mother. Step-Mother. Real Mother. Wicked Step-Mother. Mommy. Step-Monster. Mommy Dearest. Dad’s Wife. There is a chasm of difference between a “real mom” and a stepmom. A mother can fix her identity on her children regardless of her actual success in performing her role – she is a mother by basic biological fact. Even if she abandons her child at birth, she is a mom. A stepmother is the father’s wife. Being a biological mother is a great burden and responsibility, but I’m not particularly interested in talking about that right now. This is my rant. Mothers have tremendous presumptive benefits on their side. I’m not debating the meri


“Well . . .”  “Well,” followed by a long pause is a much more frequent performer in my verbal repertoire now than before I met and married a man with five children. I think it may have first come on stage in response to T-Man, age 12, plopping down beside me on the couch one morning and relating that something strange was happening to his bed sheets. Though he knew he wasn’t wetting the bed, lately there had been small damp areas on his boxers and his sheets when he woke up in the mornings. He thought perhaps something might be leaking through onto his bed from the ceiling.  “Well . . .,” I replied. . . . “Well,” followed by a long pause came up again one summer day when Little One started talking about relatives.  She had just returned from spending a week at her aunt’s for “Camp Melssa” – a summer tradition for the little girl cousins to craft and raft with Aunt Melissa and Uncle Mike.  Little One wanted to ask about how she is connected to my family but she couldn’t think o

It's Personals

I wanted a really good story about how I met my husband. I didn’t know who he was going to be, or if he even ever was going to be, but I knew wanted an enticing answer to “So, how did you two meet?” when it happened. My husband and I met online. Neither of us wanted that story. We’ve struggled to come up with another one that we could both tell with a straight face, but we get too embarrassed about lying and find it’s easier to just mumble and walk away. Of course, the longer we are married, the less we care about how we met.  But at the beginning, it seemed devastatingly serious. We could see people assess the odds of our relationship and the trustworthiness of our selves immediately upon hearing our disclosure, and the judgment on both counts was low. I met one guy at a college casino night. He was dealer and a professor and seemed so mature and intellectual. I was an administrator and played my cards right. I knew I was in love and went overboard. He knew


It was easier to maintain a bit of self-deception when I lived alone. Living in family strips me of my anonymity and blindness. In a way, it’s like living with a bunch of mirrors and echo chambers. When I lived alone, there were no witnesses. I could construct an identity to present to the world and there was no one at home, except the cat, who politely never spoke of it, to challenge my consistency. There were no eyes in which I was reflected, no voices repeating my words. I felt mature, responsible and grown-up. After all, I lived alone and took care of myself. I had a job and fed myself, put myself to bed, and, most mornings, woke myself up. Such a big girl! Now I go to bed afraid I won’t be able to fall asleep and awake afraid I will be tired. Instead of having compassion for a little one’s nightmares, I dread middle of the night disruptions and feel like crying when they occur because, selfishly, I know I’ll struggle to get back to sleep and I am tired. I want to be