I was at my Auntie Sarah's house in Kedah recently. One evening, while I was on the way to buy dinner with my Uncle Zaghlul and husband, my uncle asked me about my late dad's wife.
Without as much as a blink, I answered him, "That is a phase of my life which I do not wish to remember. If truth be known, I've erased that phase from my memory."
Although he was stunned by my answer, I was amused when he replied, "Say what everyone likes, step-mums are step-mums the world over." "And step-mums usually live up to their billing as step-mums." I was chuckling at the back of the car upon hearing his reply. Uncle, you may never know how spot-on you are with your wry and apt description of a step-mum, in particular, in relation to my experience of a step-mum.
I've always wondered the origin of the word step. The word step comes from the Old English word steop. It is defined as "related by marriage rather than blood." Step is also associated with bereavement or loss, and in reference to stepmothers, it takes on several different meanings: such as one step removed, second best, or stepping into someone else's shoes (and most of the time, it is ill-fitting)!!!
Even as a little child most girls daydreamed about the day they will become a stunning bride. Sometimes, those flight of imagination may quickly diminish into disillusionment. You never hear any little girl wish to be a stepmother when she grows up.
Alas, the term stepmother is nearly unheard of unless the word "wicked" is associated with it. Although mothers are perceived as loving and kind, what is it about stepmothers that educed them an instantaneous negative nuances and overtones?
Is it preposterous to say that some women are born with the word "wicked stepmother" stamped on their foreheads, as a kind of doom and destiny? Or does one become a "wicked stepmother" because of circumstances?
Ostensibly, it looks as if a positive relationship between a stepmother and her stepchildren was never expected. Several references were made to distinguish and differentiate mother versus stepmother. If you were experiencing a lucky, or good day, it would be considered a "mother day." However if you were having a bad day, or unlucky day, it might be considered a "stepmother day." Men from the native country were from the "mother country," while immigrants were living in a "stepmother country".
Clearly, from these examples, stepmothers were certainly of less or no value, compared to a mother. In Greek mythology a dying wife made the following comment to her husband: "And do not remarry and impose on these children a stepmother, who, being a women more ill-intentioned than me through jealousy will lay hands on your children and mine. For a stepmother comes as an enemy to the children of a former union and is no more gentle than a viper".
Evidently, this subject appealed to me because I personally have experience of having a step-mum who was married to my late dad for 8 years. I became a step-daughter at the age of 42. And apparently, my step-mum lived to the billing of a step-mum to a T!!!