We were flipping through the TV channels the other night, and my husband and I happened upon Stepmom starring Susan Surandon and Julia Roberts. Now I had seen that movie before, but not since becoming stepmom myself.
So many of the scenes hit close to home. My heart ached for Roberts’ character when she had the bio-mom correct her parenting, when she forgot to pick up one of the kids, when she lost her job because the demands of being a stepmom were too tough to juggle with her full-time job.
But I learned some things from the movie too.When Roberts gave the impassioned speech about why she would be unhappy if the bio-mom moved and took the kids away, I was reminded that no matter how hard things are sometimes, they are not as hard as watching my husband ache with the loneliness of being away from his kids. When the daughter finally started to come around and realize that maybe the stepmom did have some good ideas, I was reminded that all parenting (though perhaps especially step parenting) is a collection of moments. There are many, many times when I get the “my mom does it better” moments, but if I hang in there long enough, there is bound to be a day when I have a victory of my own.
Lastly, it was very good to be reminded of just how hard it is for a bio-mom when that day comes. The scene where the mom and stepmom discuss the daughter’s future wedding is particularly poignant. At the risk of being a spoiler, I think there are many times as a stepmom where I have that sensation, and I paraphrase “My fear is that no matter how hard I’ve tried or how much I have done, they’ll wish it were their mom there with them.” I suppose their bio-mom may feel much the way Susan Surandon did and be worried that, eventually, in those moments they may come to be perfectly happy that I am the one there with them. Until then, we will wait for those small victories.