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美文阅读:当后妈的日子

2019年11月25日 英语美文 暂无评论
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原文欣赏 Something is going on in the stepmothering camp. Call it an uprising, or a rebranding.[1] There was the story about the woman in Australia who went to court to prevent her daughter calling h

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Something is going on in the stepmothering camp. Call it an uprising, or a rebranding.[1] There was the story about the woman in Australia who went to court to prevent her daughter calling her stepmother "Mummy D". It was a small item in the news—one of those designed to make you marvel at the pettiness of divorced couples[2]—but look closely and there is something else going on here. A mother battling to maintain her unique status. A stepmother who imagines she is no different to a birth mother, and wants to rewrite history with her centre stage in the family portrait[3]. www.verywen.com


I am a stepmother. I'm not crazy about the term—the step part makes it sound cold and hard, not to mention all the negative baggage that goes with it—but it serves a useful purpose, which is to clarify exactly where I stand in relation to my stepchildren, and they to me.[4] I am not my stepchildren's mother. I did not give birth to them. I had not even met them until they were in their teens. Those are the plain facts and they are the sort of facts you mess with at your peril[5]. What I am is a full-time parent—someone who fulfils a motherly role in their lives on a daily basis. I am the one who bandages the cuts, buys the spot cream, answers the homework questions, takes them clothes shopping, gets their hair cut, and nags them to shower.[6] I've done my share of delousing and standing on the touchline in the rain, separating fights, clearing up sick and talking through various problems, from oblivious girls to trunk rash.[7] It's me who gets the phone call after the exam. Me who sobs at airports when they disappear on gap years[8] and me who worries when they aren't home on time. Still, I'm not their mother. I am something important, but significantly different. I am their stepmother. copyright verywen.com


The trouble is, there's a new generation of stepmothers who want to compete for pole position[9], instead of accepting that they have something unique to offer. It's the philosophy of the "me" generation taken to its logical conclusion—because I'm worth it and I do the work of a mother (even if it's every other weekend), I deserve to be called a mother. Ladies, really, this is madness. There are so many advantages to being a stepmother as opposed to a real mother. 本文来自美文网


For a start, if you make any sort of effort, you are regarded as a heroic, selfless figure, whereas real mothers are simply expected to get on with it. Stepmothers can forget the sports kit, turn up late for the parents' meeting, shrink the blazer,[10] burn the birthday cake, and the world thinks she's doing a fantastic job ("They're not even hers"). Strangers are always congratulating me for what I have "taken on[11]" (particularly when they hear I don't have children of my own). Divorced dads offer their condolences and mutter guiltily that being a stepmother is "the most thankless task in the world".[12] What is more, we stepmothers can moan, and ask for help, and admit we're not sure we're getting it right without seeming unnatural or disloyal. It’s a win-win situation and it works both ways. 本文来自美文网


Because I am not their real mother, my stepchildren can pick and mix[13]. On days when I manage to stay the right side of cool (if I've bumped into Lily Allen in a shop, or bought them an item of clothing that is not, for once, "gay"), then I am their stepmother, loud and proud.[14] On days when I am a total embarrassment (conferring with shop assistants, dancing in the kitchen, ogling footballers and getting their names wrong),[15] they are free to say, or just to think, "She's not my mother." How liberating[16] is that? copyright verywen.com


And because I am not their mother, they find it easier to talk to me about subjects that are traditionally agony[17] for mothers and children to discuss—namely sex, their ambitions (or lack of them), clothes, drugs, disloyal friends. I can see them as the age they are, not—as mothers inevitably do—as babies. Every exchange with a real mother is loaded with expectation and the potential for hurt, but stepmothers aren't plugged into their stepchildren's nervous systems, so they are cushioned from the worst agonies.[18] (When one of my stepchildren goes to the dark side, I do not think: "Oh God, that's because I didn't potty train you early enough/didn't breastfeed for long enough/took that stressful job in my second trimester.")[19] And if one of them wants a piercing[20], I can discuss it objectively without a voice in my head screaming, "But you're my baby!" verywen.com


So much for the pros[21] of this special relationship. There are downsides, too. I get tired of round-the-clock giving (more tired than a regular mother, because I haven't had the practice), but at the same time I feel sad when they thank me for small kindness that children should take for granted. It seems a shame that they are appalled[22] at the thought of being caught naked by me (or worse, me by them), though I guess that, past a certain age, that's normal. And I am sometimes brought up sharp by the yawning gap between their life experience and mine.[23] I am not part of my stepchildren's history—they are a gang[24] with their father and I am, if not the outsider, then the new member of the band. Our house is full of photographs of their lives before I came along, holidays I never went on, houses I never lived in, plus a couple of our wedding day, with all of us in a line, squinting[25] into the camera. But you know what—that's exactly as it should be. We're not rewriting history, we're making it—and we're doing a pretty good job so far. www.verywen.com

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