Thu 11 Aug 2011
Last week, I had the fortune of spending five days in sunny San Diego. By myself. Yes, that could be a post in and of it self because I did not feel one ounce of guilt going to San Diego. This is not how I would have traveled four years ago. Back then, I would have had to pay extra for the second suitcase of guilt I would have checked with customer service for doing something without the kids.
So there I was in grown up clothes that were neatly pressed and crumb free at BlogHer11 which is an amazing conference for bloggers. Among the over 3,600 women in attendance I had the fortune of meeting up with women of whom I respect and admire for their contribution to the stepmom and co-parenting arena. When we actually met, I felt like I had known them for years from all the sharing we had done through our blogs, on Twitter, interviews on the StepMom Connection webshow and some phone conversations. These women are authentic and wonderful!
I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Barb of Evil StepMom Speaks, Lisa of HersHisandOurs, Deesha of CoParenting101, Diana of A Life Well Blended and Debrae who is going to be launching a blog soon (I’ll let you know when). I also met a non stepmom, Colleen of MommyAlwaysWins who was bravely checking out our stepblogger room of your own at Blogher.
Meeting these wonderful women was a true blessing and further fueled my passion for creating a strong community of positive thinking stepmoms. Each one of us has a different story. Each one of us is in a different stage of stepmothering. Each one of us cares deeply for all stepmothers and the children they love and care for.
In addition to these wonderful women, I met countless stepmoms who were attending the conference. Many of these women spoke with me at length about my site only to tell me in a whisper at the end of the conversation “actually, I’m a stepmom too!”
Stepmoms are all around us but they don’t wear Tshirts shouting I am a stepmom (although I do know where you can get some:). Barb and I were talking about how often we talk with women only to have them “admit” at the end of our conversation that they are a stepmom and it’s usually in that same ol’ whisper.
I have found that the response I get when I tell someone what I do for a living and the type of blog I run, falls into one of three categories:
Mainly, I get Oohhhhh! Those long, drawn out oohhhhs usually come from non stepmoms whose children either have a stepmom that the woman doesn’t care for or they just have a stereotypical view of stepmoms. They are always polite and kind but I get the feeling that they think they are going to catch the “stepmom bug” from me.
Secondly, I get Ooh! In an excited way and they seem interested but don’t tell me that they are a stepmom til the end of the conversation and then they want to share their horror story and seek advice. These are typically newer stepmoms and/or stepmoms who are in the middle of a very tough stepfamily situation.
Thirdly, I get Wow! That’s great!. This response mainly comes from veteran stepmoms who indicate that they wish they would have had online support when they started out “15 years ago”. These women have stayed the course and they are all about the high fives and support.
So, why all the Oohs??? I think its because our culture still has a negative view of stepmoms. And because of that, many stepmoms don’t feel comfortable saying out loud what they are feeling inside. There seems to be a fear of judgement for some stepmoms. Its when they know for sure you will not judge them for their stepmom role that they open up, share and seek connection.
Meeting fellow stepbloggers was pure joy. We shared our personal stories and our missions for helping stepmoms. We talked about how we can support one another. We laughed and we cried. We connected. We created community in that stepblogger room of our own. There was no judgement. There was no competition. There was only community!
I want the conversation that we all shared to be extended to all stepmoms. I want stepmoms to feel free to express their joys and their struggles without fear of judgement.
Lisa and I spoke about how we all want the stepmom community to be where the mom community now is which is a place where we can feel free to share our hearts without fear of being judged or fitting into the “evil stepmother” persona that Mr. Disney created decades ago.
On Tuesday, August 9th, Matt Lauer on The Today Show was covering a story about a man who was ordered to take down his blog about his “psycho ex-wife” as the couple was embittered in a custody battle. Matt made a comment to the effect that this judge must not look at blogs, because they are all about the negative and untruths.
Au contraire, mon frère Mr. Lauer. On the contrary, I am proud of the work that many stepmothers are doing to demystify the “wicked stepmom persona” and offer support through personal stories and encouragement. I just met some of those stepmoms in San Diego.
Stepmoms often live under the lens of false judgement of society. Our positive community is important because as stepmoms, we don’t judge each other. We listen, support and encourage one another. Personally, I may not agree with another stepmom’s choice but I will NEVER judge her character. There is no cookie cutter way to be anything in this life we live.
That’s one of the beautiful things about our community. Our stepmom community is about support not judgement.
What response do you get when tell someone you are a stepmom? Do you feel judged because of the role you play in your home? Have you benefited from the community of positive stepmothers that social media has allowed us to create? Have any of you thought about starting your own blog about the job of stepmotherhood? Please Share.