Monday, 16 February 2009

Because I Said So

As part of my research on stepmothering, I put the prefix step – stepmother, stepfamily, stepchild – into our library's online database and borrowed or reserved every title that I found.

Although not just about stepmothering, I decided to borrow it anyway in hope that there would be one personal essay by a mother with inherited kids. And there was – there was one, the sole reason this book came up in the database search.

According to, over 50% of US families are remarried or re-coupled and 1300 new stepfamilies are formed every day. Considering the statistics, I was very surprised there was only 1 out of 33 essays written from the perspective of a stepparent.

Despite this prejudice or oversight or bias or whatever you'd like to call it, I really enjoyed this collection and would happily recommend it to anyone looking for a book that sticks its hands into the guts of life in the hope it will come out bloody. Some of the writers put a glove on first, some describe their hands, their chipped or manicured nails, their calloused fingers, their moisturised cuticles. Some mothers thrust their mitts right in, while one achingly describes her stump. Some of the mothers are solo, some are partnered, some are young, some old, some with babies, some with children older than me. Some write beautifully, others barely limp along. 

Although some of the pieces were more sentimental than others, and some engrossed me while others brought on the yawns, they all felt honest as each woman described the complexity, beauty, darkness, powerlessness and utter amazement of the daily expedition she pioneers.

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