Thursday, February 26, 2009

The 'evil stepmother'

Hi stepmums,

Here is an article by Alison Cameron that was published in Sunday Life on February 2, 2009 that you may find interesting.

You adore him, but when it comes to his children, you feel like the evil stepmother. Alison Cameron explores why admitting you don't love - or even like - your new charges is the ultimate taboo.

You're in love with the man of your dreams. The only hitch is that he comes as a package deal with his kids - and it's no holiday. Your romance is conducted under the gaze of his children, who are ready to barge in at the first sign of affection. Instead of walks in the moonlight, your evenings are spent picking up toys and preparing school lunches. And all the time you feel the children's eyes on you, resenting, criticising.

Being a stepmother can be fraught territory but, for many, admitting you don't like - let alone love - your charges is the ultimate taboo. It's admitting failure, and you may as well tattoo "wicked stepmother" on your forehead and throw in your lot with the bitches and witches of Snow White and Cinderella.

For Dolla Merrillees, the experience of becoming a stepmother was so tough that she wrote a book to help women who found themselves in a similar situation. In The Woodcutter's Wife: A Stepmother's Tale, Merrillees describes how she went from being an independent 34-year-old Sydney art consultant to the stepmother of a preschooler whose mother was a drug addict.

Before meeting her husband and his son, whom she calls Ben and Jonathan in the book to protect their privacy, Merrillees had no interest in children.

"I had never envisioned having any. I was pursuing my career." She knew Ben had a four-year-old son but assumed the boy would live mainly with his mother, hardly affecting their life. She was wrong. Within 12 months of meeting, they were all living together full-time.

At first, Merrillees had a clear idea of what she was and was not prepared to do. On the "no" list was wiping bottoms, cleaning up vomit and disciplining Jonathan. Again, things did not go to plan. "It all deteriorated within the first month," she says. "I was doing all the things a normal parent was doing. To read the rest of this article, click here

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