Today, I am honored to be guest posting for Rachel Held Evans. I am sharing my thoughts on faith and step-parenting.
Redeeming Cinderella’s Stepmother
No little girl ever wants to be Cinderella’s stepmother. We dream of princes and balls and weddings and babies, but all of those things would belong to us first. We would mother our own biological children, not someone else’s. No one wants to be a stepmother.
The Bible doesn’t offer us a shining example of a stepmother. We could posit that Sarah was the stepmother of Hagar’s son Ishmael; however, she forced both Hagar and Ishmael to leave after the birth of her son, Isaac. Not the best pattern to follow. Literature isn’t kind to us either. We give away poison apples, prey upon feeble-minded men, and force servitude upon the stepchildren. Even the Greek playwright, Euripides said that “it is better to be a serpent than a stepmother.”
I am stepmother, not a stereotype.
To read the rest of this post, please head over to Rachel Held Evan’s blog. I’m part of her series Faith in Parenting.
Foam meal cartons, chicken tenders, green beans, slaw filled to them brim. The price includes a dessert, a Pepsi, and the feel goodness of supporting a struggling family. A typical benefit dinner in a typical small Southern town. We have no dinner resturants so Friday night benefit dinners draw the whole town to the Fire Station. We eat around folding plastic tables where fire trucks usually slumber. Our mouths too full to talk at first, then we swallow and the flurry of words spills out.
All round us people laugh and talk and smile. Men slap each other on the back, and women swirl from table to table hugging, greeting, chatting. My kids join the throng of friends, classmates who have escaped the stuffy building for the cool, muggy outside air. Soon my husband disappears like the others gone outside. I’m alone. Even in the crowd of people, I’m alone. I scan the crowd, but all of the faces look familiar and strange. But the conversation still buzzes around me.
Yes, I live in the small town, everyone knows your name town. The epitome of rural life. But only if you were born here, only if your kin have lived on the same street for years. Not for people who hail from another state, another city, another small town like me.
I am the outsider.
Scene change, the pews forest green or blue or red, whatever in vogue color for padding. A dewy morning, a Mother’s Day morning. The church filled with children and their mothers, grandmothers, wearing corsages of red and white flowers. We sit in the back pews and admire the special Sunday school crafts for the mothers. Crafts, I won’t be given. The “I made this for mom” or “you’re not a real mom, you didn’t have any kids” cut like daggers, but I’ve heard them ever since I began doing this full time mothering thing.
During the service, all mothers stand recognized for another year of loving, giving, sacrificing, and I stand too. I feel the looks of the other women not so comfortable with the word “step” in front of the word “mother.” Perhaps, I make them uncomfortable since I became a mother through my husband’s divorce. Perhaps, they put too much stock in Disney’s Cinderella. I don’t know, but they don’t say anything. Silence speaks more than words.
Sometimes, they ask when it will be my turn. To have a baby, to procreate, to legitimatize my role as mother. I joke about only wanting puppies or kittens or something called a career or now’s not the best time(not sure if there ever is). Perhaps, it is impossible for people in the church to fathom how a 30 year old’s biological clock isn’t sending out its usual siren song–babies, babies, BABIES! Maybe, mine’s just broken. Again, I’m left on the fringes. Outside the safe, normal realm of being a mother.
I both loathe and love being an outsider. Perhaps, it is just easier to watch, to sit back and wait, to avoid hurt. I have grown accustomed to being on the fringes.