THREE+ME: With stepmoms, Disney got it wrong

Even though I’m not officially a stepmom yet, the kids wanted to give me a Mother’s Day present: a terrarium filled with my favorite things, like a hobbit door, ice cream and a miniature cat.

Originally published in The Herald News on May 13, 2017.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I’m not a mom.

I never wanted to be a mom, actually. Girlfriend? Yes. Wife someday? Absolutely. But mom? No thanks.

“Adulting” for myself is tough enough; why would I want to be responsible for another miniature human being?

Then I met a guy. I became the girlfriend, the fiance, and now, in exactly a week from today (!!!), I’ll be the wife.

But one little thing threw a wrench into my anti-mom plan. Two little things, actually. My almost-husband already has kids.

At the time, that was almost enough to scare me away. Because if this relationship worked out (which it did), theoretically it would lead to marriage (which it has). And that trajectory would land me squarely in a category that’s possibly even more terrifying than “Mom” — a category that’s been stereotyped and villainized in fairy tales for … forever.


Or as the stories phrase it, “The Evil Stepmother.”

If there’s anything I wanted less than being a mom, it was being the bad guy in a Disney movie.

Not only would it mean taking on responsibility for two little people, but also not taking on the role that society expected me to fall into, at least according to the fairy tales — and my own prejudices, too. I remember years ago I was teaching a skiing class, and a kid mentioned his stepmom was going to pick him up; I automatically didn’t like the woman, because I assumed she was a horrible person.

Because she was a stepmom.

If I was now going to be one, what would that say about me?

Then I met the kids. His son was 8, his daughter was 4. And, rather unexpectedly, I learned something: kids can actually be kind of awesome.

Now, his son is 10, and his daughter is 6. And in the past two years, I learned something else: stepmoms don’t have to be evil.

In fact, we can be kind of awesome, too. And what amazes me, is that the kids see that. I know I’m not officially their stepmom yet, but they both have already accepted me as such, and they tell me so. Often.

Like this past weekend. Apparently both of them, independently of each other, asked their dad the same thing: to give me a Mother’s Day present.

We don’t have them with us on Mother’s Day itself, so last Sunday morning, my fiance and both kids paraded into the bedroom, where I was slowly waking up, and handed me a glorious little terrarium, filled with my favorite things — a cat, ice cream, even a hobbit door!

My almost-stepson gave me a hug, and his sister said, “I’m so glad you’re gonna be my stepmom.”

I almost cried. I don’t deserve this. After all, I never wanted to be a mom. I was terrified I’d screw it up.

But stepmom? Stereotypes and self-doubt aside, maybe, just maybe, this is something I can pull off.