Can I Sue the Brothers Grimm for Malpractice?

Yesterday, I discussed how I wanted to resurrect the Brothers Grimm and whip their linguistic little asses for their centuries-old stepmother smear campaign. Today, I’m going to share how that cultural bias almost killed my stepdaughter.

Big A. had several strep infections per year when she was younger. During her twelfth summer, she got one that knocked her flat. Her fever spiked, and my gut told me this particular illness was serious. I took her to her pediatrician, and I shared my fears. I was scared, and I asked him if he would consider giving her a shot of antibiotics first to sort of boost things along.  Keep in mind that I knew very little about sick kids, but I had remembered my own doctor giving me a shot for a bad strep infection, and I felt better almost immediately.

This bastard looked at me and said, “What are you, a wicked stepmother asking me to stick a needle in this child’s behind?’

He then looked at Big A. and added, “Are you Cinderella, and is she going to make you scrub the floors when you get home?”

Due to professional connections between Big A.’s mother and stepfather to this practice, I said very little at the time. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to rock the boat. Back then, it was much more important for all of us to get along for the kids’ sake than to rightfully smack the shit out of this self-righteous douchebag.

Turns out, I’m not so stupid and evil after all. Dr. Pissant gave her a form of antibiotics that I told him hadn’t worked for her in the past. Two weeks later, Big A. was in the hospital with strep meningitis. She had a morphine drip for a week and a helicopter on stand-by because her kidneys were shutting down. After five days, she finally responded the antibiotics and, thankfully, recovered fully.

Some of the nurses on staff eagerly awaited what they thought would be inevitable drama between the four terrified parents sitting at the child’s bedside. One doctor even told us we were weird  for all being in the same room. It would be much easier for step and bio parents to get along if some members of society didn’t secretly want to watch a step-smackdown. I guess we disappointed them. We mainly just prayed or willed Big A. to breathe when the morphine slowed her respirations to nearly zero.

I attempted to file a complaint on the pediatrician, but Dr. Shithead swore he never made those statements to me. I guess Big A. could have addressed the medical board to substantiate my case, but to what end?

As a family, we have all done the best we could to help Big A. and Big T. have the happiest childhood possible in a joint custody situation. Since 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, millions of other stepfamilies are working for the same results—happy, well-adjusted kids. It doesn’t take a child psychologist or a 15th century linguist to note that blending a family isn’t easy. Spend five minutes with Big T. or Big A. and you will quickly realize why we fervently believe it was all well worth it.

Now, will the rest of you self-righteous smart-assed people who insist on staring into the blended family fishbowl quit judging and  let your step-stereotypes eat the poison apple and die? If you don’t, I’ll make you lick my kitchen floor clean!

Happy Mother’s Day, Stepmom!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sending a shout-out to all you stepmothers out there wondering how to handle this somewhat confusing holiday. If you have children of your own, you probably have your Sunday covered. Macaroni pictures and a PBJ sandwich for breakfast are probably forthcoming. That’s the best, isn’t it? Cuddles and hugs and jelly kisses rock my world, too. There’s no better present, even if they smear peanut butter all over the kitchen floor.

It’s different when you’re a stepparent, especially if you are longing for children of your own. I am fortunate in that my stepchildren have always come back to our house on Mother’s Day night to celebrate with me. That has always meant more to me than I can ever say, and I am thankful that their mother shared them. I know that many stepmothers aren’t as lucky as I have been, and I would like to take a moment to celebrate “Bonus Moms” everywhere.

Stepmom, you married a guy and became an Insta-Parent. Your marriage has revolved around children since before you even wrote your vows. Many women get to bask in the glow of newlyweddom for awhile, but not you, Honey. If you even got a honeymoon, you jumped right into washing skid-marked drawers immediately upon your return. Bless you.

There will always be “another woman” in your life, like it or not. This woman has and will have a great impact on your life, at least until the kids are grown. This could be a veritable gleesome threesome—or it may not. Society now encourages step and bio moms to get along. Studies show that an amicable relationship between the women helps the kids tremendously. It did in our case. That doesn’t make it easy. This Mother’s Day, go do something nice for yourself. It takes a special woman to open her heart to a family like this and dedicate herself to making it work.

Your stepkids may adore you, or they may despise you.  It’s beyond terrific when love flows smoothly, and it can be a heartbreak visible from Pluto when you’re on the shit list. Regardless of your status in anyone’s eyes this Mother’s Day, celebrate your awesomeness. This is a tough job, and no one tells you straight what the expectations are. Some days make sense. Other times it feels like you’re neck deep in Shit Creek and the damn boat’s on the bottom. Regardless of the day, week, month, year, or life you’ve had, you’re there, and you’re trying. Take a break from it all and get a massage. You deserve it.

Whether or not your stepkids celebrate you on this holiday or not, celebrate yourself. Get up with some other stepmom friends for toddies and party together. Tell your husband exactly how you would like to spend the day, and let him spoil you rotten. You don’t have to wait for anyone else’s approval to feel proud of your role as a stepmom. If folks choose to judge you, chances are they aren’t stepmoms and wouldn’t survive a half-mile walk in your moccasins, so screw ‘em. When you validate yourself, you give off a different vibe. It’s hard to be huffy around a woman who shines. So here’s a cyber-bouquet, Ladies!  Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Dinged and Happy: A Boat Story

I spent my eleventh wedding anniversary fishing with Mr. Jenn on my newly refurbished jon boat, Penelope—the same boat my parents bought me for my eleventh birthday. Penelope and I both shine in a completely different way now than we did then.

Neither one of us are teenagers anymore. Rough weather has dinged our once sleek(ish) undersides. Penelope flew across an acre of back yard in a tornado and landed against a tree, denting her all over. Age, excessive cookies, stress, love, loss, miscarriage, family health crises, job changes, and the inevitable storms of parenthood and stepparenthood have left my exterior a little pock-marked. I have scars, lines, and droops in places that were once tight and smooth. I think all teenagers believe, at some level, that they will be young and sexy forever. I walked around in that naïve fog until recently when childbirth rearranged my personal real estate, and age thirty-nine reached through the mirror and bitch-slapped the hell out of me the other day.

Penelope and I sport our dings with pride, though. Every dent symbolizes some major shit we’ve both overcome. The tornado that merely punched a small hole in Penelope’s gunwale ripped the house down the street in half. The divorce rate in stepfamilies hovers around 65-70%. Eleven years later, we’re still going strong, even though we’ve both had some pretty severe wounds to lick. When Penelope and I were tootling around the river at thirteen, I can assure you I wasn’t dreaming about becoming someone’s stepmother. Looking back on the entire family blending journey, though, I learned to shut my mouth, to pick my battles, and to dig deep trenches in the sand where necessary. I stood strong in my human decency regardless of the opinions of the peanut gallery. I found that I could love in the face of hate and polarity. I realized that sometimes circumstances explode, and I have to ask for help. I adore my four children, and I genuinely like the person I see in the mirror. She has survived far more than her adolescent persona imagined; my thirty-eight, almost thirty-nine-year-old self sleeps peacefully every night.

One other thing Penelope and I have in common is that we both leak. When we began our relationship some twenty-sevenish years ago, we were both watertight. As years progressed, we’ve both been banged up enough that our rivets have worked loose—water collects in her bottom gradually, a mouthwash cup at a time. During our anniversary fishing trip, Mr. Jenn cut the top off one of my Diet Coke cans and used it to bail out Penelope’s stern. After he finished cleaning the cooler full of catfish we caught, Mr. Jenn lovingly wrapped Penelope’s rivets with expensive marine adhesive. Her bottom is now covered with puce polka-dots–adult diapers for boats, if you will. Since I refuse to wear these types of undergarments, I supposed I’ll have to carry a bailing can around with me for such times as when I laugh, cough, or sneeze.

In short, Penelope and I both enjoy a pretty sweet existence. Mr. Jenn bought her a new trailer for our anniversary, and my old boat looks so pleased with herself as she rides along to the river behind our truck. As we laughed the other day while reeling in catfish, I asked Mr. Jenn where he imagined himself eleven years after he proposed.

“Right here, jug fishing for blue cats with you in your little old boat,” he answered. I just had to agree.

I’m linking this post to the Lightning and the Lightning Bug’s “The Way We Were” challenge. Check them out! 

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