MY STEPMOTHER IS HUMAN
I got married yesterday.
Congratulations you will say! I wish I could smile when I hear anyone say that. For I feel anything but joy at the moment.
My yesterday is actually ten years ago. I sit here, in my matrimonial home, staring at nowhere in particular, wishing that my joy will indeed show forth and the darkness of my present will pass away.
Today is my 10th year wedding anniversary. My yesterday is actually ten years old. And the memories feel as old as the years.
I walk to the wall and gaze sightlessly at the portraits. My husband, Kenneth and I, 0ur three children, Reuben, Levi and Dinah. Then the two other children, Ramia and Rawlings.
Two other children!
They are at the centre of the turmoil I face this day. They are the reason why I have to tell this tale. They are products of Kenneth’s first marriage.
They are my stepchildren.
I sigh deeply as I return from my examination of the portrait and lower my tired body onto the settee closest to me.
I am a stepmother!
Is it a life that any woman plans for herself? I have not done a survey to find out. But I can say for myself that it was not what I planned for my matrimonial cruise.
I had dreams. Dreams of getting married to Prince Charming who will look at me so tenderly as if I alone existed in the world; his world, proclaim words of eternal love to me, appear on a white horse, take me to his palace of plenty where I will push my lazy legs into designer model shoes and sit on PLUSH SEATS on EASY STREET; where we will sing one endless melody of love.
Alas! Reality strangled my dreams!
For I searched endlessly for Prince Charming who was as elusive as the moon on a hot afternoon.
Just before I turned forty, I found him. At a point when I was so desperate, I was ready to settle for anything, marry just any man just to bear the title of Mrs and escape the scorn of the world.
Kenneth was widowed and had two teenage children. I did not care if he had a football team in his house. I just wanted to get married. People told me I was lucky to get anyone to marry me at my age and advised me to grab Kenneth before I grew grey hairs and died as an old maid.
I was foolish enough to believe them. I married Kenneth and did all I could to make the marriage work. Kenneth was and still is a wonderful husband. He responded to all my efforts, loved and cherished me.
But his children!
Ramia became a cross I had to bear. I tried all I could to please her. I covered up for all her indiscretions and never reported her rudeness to her father. I bought her a lot of things which she spat on and threw back at me, saying in her nasty tone, ‘You can never be my mother. I hate you. No matter what you do, I can never accept you.’
Rawlings was indifferent. He behaved as if I did not exist. At least Ramia gave me the sharp end of her tongue. The only time I tried to get Rawlings to talk, he calmly told me, ‘I don’t feel like talking to you. You got what you want. You married my father. You are enjoying his wealth. Remain as a stepmother. Don’t go beyond that.’
If I had a scar each time my stepchildren wounded me with their words, there would be no more space left on my body and even my internal organs to accommodate the scars.
I was treated like scum and sometimes felt like scum.
Then I took a trip down memory lane. I saw the scenes pass slowly before my glazed eyes.
Times when I insulted my stepmother. Times when I connived with my mother to make her miserable. The one time when I joined my mother to beat her up and she had a miscarriage. I saw those scenes and I shuddered. I have heard that Karma is a bitch. Could it be pursuing me and ‘rewarding’ me for my evil deeds? Was I placed in the position of a stepmother to show how my own stepmother felt?
Remorse sat confidently on my skin as I sought out my stepmother. I apologised for all the wrongs I did her and took care of her in her old age. My parents have long passed on and I took her as my own mother. I felt happy I could ‘right’ my ‘wrongs.’ But my friend, Collette was not so lucky. She did not have the chance to correct the wrongs she did to her stepmother as the woman passed on before she ‘came to herself.’ Colette did not have stepchildren but the challenges of raising her own children made her realise that her stepmother was not a monster after all. If she could have so much trouble keeping her biological children in check, she wondered how it felt for her stepmother to take care of five children who were not hers.
Colette and I talked about it and decided that we were the real monsters. I recalled that my stepmother never treated me badly and never responded to any of the insults thrown her way by me and my mother. She was an exceptional woman.
How sad that I had to become a stepmother to realise what she went through!
The problems of life make one a philosopher, they say. I have become one as I write this message. I don’t think life has been fair to stepmothers. I can remember them now. The fairy tales that painted stepmothers as the epitome of evil. The classic tales of Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel come to my mind as I write. Many people have carried this idea in their heads: Stepmothers are always wicked!
No one considers the fact that some stepchildren, like me, can be VERY DIFFICULT TO HANDLE!
I dedicate this piece to STEPMOTHERS, STEPFATHERS and all those who have at one point or the other became GUARDIANS to children they did not bring forth into the world.
You should be celebrated because you are sowing seeds of greatness into the next generation.
You should be appreciated because parenting of any form is not a walk in the park.
You should be applauded because you are not perfect but try in your imperfections to carve a perfect path for your ‘adopted children’ to follow.
You are human and can make mistakes like others.
You do not deserve to have your faults MAGNIFIED and your good DOWNPLAYED.
You deserve a MEDAL OF GLORY.
As I end this message, I pray that my own stepchildren will one day, very soon say:
MY STEPMOTER IS HUMAN.