I meant to write about step mothers long back but was rather pre occupied with my SIL’s illness first and white washing and painting of our flat drove me crazy and my mind stopped functioning temporarily. I’d return to a messy house, sweep and clean till 9 in the evening and go to bed exhausted. The white washing is not over. Only three fourth done but the painter has vanished. His mobile is switched off whenever we call him so we’ve learnt to live with a verandah in a jammed state with the ladders and stools used by them and the other full of paint brushes and half used paint cans and what not. We’ve paid the fellow only 50% of the amount agreed upon so even if he has started work elsewhere he will definitely come for his money. Either we do not know to extract work or come across as people who can be taken for granted (Fools, perhaps?). I was therefore perpetually out of sorts and just couldn’t type a word let alone a post.
Coming to the point I feel step mothers are a maligned lot. With Snow White and Cinderella being ill treated by their step moms and David Copperfield having to face the wrath of a step father I was sympathetic to any child who might have lost his/her mother and had to deal with a step father. Widow re - marriage was rare during my growing years so I never gave a thought to the possibility of a person being ill treated by a step father. That happened in foreign countries I felt. As a teenager I had the unfortunate opportunity of witnessing the manner in which our cook Kalyani mami treated her step son. The boy stole money from our house and ran away much to our relief.
My first impression about step mothers changed when a neighbor and good friend of mine B…….. died a pre mature death when her sari accidentally caught fire. Her son was just seven years old when she passed away and her husband re-married within 3 months. The family shifted to a new location and I happened to meet them 4 years later. The girl who replaced B…….. was a gem and treated her step son with the same affection that she reserved for her own daughter. The boy reciprocated in a similar manner and I found myself hoping praying that others in the extended family let them be. Very often it is these others who poison children’s minds but luckily it was not so here. The boy is now a qualified engineer and I hear that he is as fond of his step mother as he might have been if B……… had been alive.
A P was just 4 years old when her mother died and her younger brother was not yet one. Her father re – married. Her maternal grandmother filled her mind with negative thoughts about her step mother.
“Mummy” asked the girl “will you change when a baby brother is born? Nani says so.”
“Never my child. I’d love you and Chotu always. Why would I want another child?” said her step mother. And she did not stop with saying so. She convinced her husband and had her tubes tied and never had children of her own. AP was our student some 10 years back. Today she has a good job and her step mother takes care of her children while she works. She has grown up to be a confident young woman and when her husband lost his temper during the initial years of their marriage she stood up to him saying that her mother would stand by her and she was certainly not putting up with his nonsensical behavior. He has mended his ways since. How many young girls can say so about their natural mothers I wonder.
The relationship between a woman and her step children has to grow and it is for society to encourage such growth. It is not easy if the step children are old enough to understand and adopt an antagonistic attitude. However no one bothers to understand her side of the story. I do agree that there are several step mothers who never ever accept step children as their own. My heart goes out to these children who suffer in silence and never really get out of the trauma. But there are several others who accept the situation and treat their step children really well. I wanted to write in support of these women who are grossly misunderstood by society.