Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oh, You're One of Those

     Many moons ago, as a newbie to the wife and mother lifestyle, in between teaching dance and choreographing, I thought it would be advantageous to supplement our family's income by selling Mary Kay Cosmetics. Yes, I was a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant.

     You know how it order the kit, you get bookings, a friend tells a friend, you try to conform all you meet to the awesomeness of the products (because the secret of Mary Kay is she bought the recipes/ ingredients list from a tanner that used these ingredients in tanning his hides). But most of all, you absolutely must have stock on hand so you can immediately make an instant trade, cash for product. It is so uncool to get an order and have to wait for it to come in.

     This is why I end up at my bank. I'm young, I've never gotten a loan by myself before. I'm nervous. I sit down at the loan officer's desk, I'll call him Mr. Curmudgeon (if you don't know what that means, please Google it before you read on). I hand him my application, he looks at it and says, "Oh, you're one of those."
I was crushed! Why, you ask? Because I thought the same thing he did about salesmen. In reality, I was a salesman.

     One of my best customer's husband called me "The Pusher". You see, there is an unspoken language that comes with unspoken implications when your occupation is salesman. Salesman, of course, is not the only word with which we do stereotypical deciphering.
                stay at home mom
                oh, here's a good one...stepparent.

     I've seen the look on people's faces, you can almost hear their thoughts out loud when I say I homeschool my grandkids. Ohhh, poor child, won't they be behind? Disadvantaged? They won't know how to be social. These things have been said to me. A stay at home mom?...gee, how fulfilling is that? As if staying home to rear your children is a death sentence. Being unemployed, as I see it, does not make me an undesirable...I'm gainfully employed and the benefits are stupendous!

    The one that gripes my butt, though, is the stepparent one. Every time, through my career as a stepmother to Tangae and Stacey, because someone would say "you don't look old enough to be their mother" many times I would just let it ride. Many times people would go on and on and I would tell them that they were my stepdaughters. Here would come the dismissal. It would be as if you just said, "I am their step (not-valid-not-a-part-of-not-viable-not-necessary-not-a-real-parent) mother."

     I cannot count the hundreds of times I would say, "And these are my stepdaughters" and I am not joking, people would say out loud, "Oh." Like, it does not matter that you've helped raise them since they were 2 and 3 years of age and they are now 41 (almost) and 42. Or that you were there for every event in their lives except their births or loved them like a mama would through every situation. It has always been, except for a few exceptions, just like when I was seated in the bank at Mr. Curmudgeon's desk. "Oh, your one of those." A step mother. Not a real mother, you just play one on T.V.

     That same feeling that I felt at Mr. Curmudgeon's desk would hover over me. It would crush me. In reality, I AM a step mother. I must accept that stigmas come attached to this word. I remember once when Stacey had spend the night company over, I heard the little girl say to Stacey, "She's not mean at all" with which Stacey replied, "I never said she was." It was just implied, stepmother = wicked/evil. Thanks to all the fairy tales!

     I have looked at my being selected to be their stepmother as being hand-picked by God, Himself. For me to "step" in and fill a space that was presented to me upon the marriage to their father. I took the position  knowing that I was called from the foundation of time to be their stepmother. God specifically told me that from all the women on the face of the earth, He had chosen me to be their stepmother. I have always considered it a privilege and a great honor to hold that title. Even without the kudos.

     I gladly step back and let the real parents have their roles, their names, Daddy, Momma, I'm happy to be called Jeanna, Tangae and Stacey's stepmother. I don't take it as a slam or a demotion to be listed as one, even when our culture negates any positive meaning to the name stepmother, 'cause God and I both know that I relish and revel in the fact that...yeah...stepmother, I'm one of those.


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