A bonusmamma from another planet

Not really the Alien Stepmom but if being a stepmom is hard, try being a stepmom in another country. Throw in some language issues, mix carefully with cultural differences and sprinkle some childish behaviour … and you will see what I am talking about.

If you think being a parent is hard, try being a stepmother in a foreign country. It is like landing into another planet. If you are a parent who thinks it is hard to be a parent (whoever says it is easy is lying), then think that at least you had the 9-month preparation period. You saw your (or her) belly grow, felt the little one kick, people looked at you and went “aww!”, you probably even got a baby-shower with lots of friends and your mom’s friends throwing an avalanche of advise at you. With all the hormone production your body and your mind prepared you for one of the most natural processes in life. However it was for you, during those 9 months you were slowly physically and mentally preparing for the big moment. And the big moment was the actual birth of your own tiny spawn.

At this point, spare a thought for us stepmothers; we do not get a “big moment”. There is no preparation, no one patting your belly with love (perhaps only yourself, thinking about that last bit of cake you probably should not have had), and no one giving you lots of loving advise, especially because it is quite unlikely that you actually know someone else who is a stepmom, and who you can relate to. In my case, I was too busy organising my wedding, my moving to another country, understanding the new country’s ways and institutions, opening a consultancy company, figuring out the Swedish tax system, getting the language, finding a job… becoming a stepmother was just another thing I had to learn, only there was no wedding planner genious, tax consultant, language specialist, or job coach to help me with the process.

No, sir. Stepmothers are just throwned into the role as if they were born that way, and with no other reference in the cultural and popular world than the Evil, Wicked Stepmother Cinderella-type (or Mary Poppins) there really is no wonder why it is such a shock to everyone (yes, including your own mom). There simply is no “role-model” out there worth following, apart from Julia Roberts.

Maybe that is why there are lots and lots of lists made by well-intentioned people about “things you shoud (or shouldn’t) do to become a good stepmother”, from Remember that they are not your children (Oh thanks, I had just forgotten!) to Don’t come in and try to automatically become part of the family (hmm.. no comments).

When I became a stepmother I didn’t even think of at least searching on Google for the term “stepmother”, let alone search for books on preparation to the big Princess-to-Stepmom transformation. Actually, I didn’t even think it crossed my mind. When I became a stepmother I didn’t only become a stepmother: I also became a new-comer in Sweden, a non-Swedish-speaking foreigner, unemployed, clue-less on where to start, one of the very few foreigners in country-side Sweden where I stick out like a carrot among parsnips (or swedes!). My life was at a point in which the only things that were for sure in my life were the ring on my finger and my determination.

Today I stand in a slightly different place. Fortune has been very kind to me, and I now have a great job that I love, a decent level of Swedish, a good understanding of the Jante Law- mentality (just enough to get by), we are moving to Stockholm in a few weeks time…  and it finally feels like I actually have my own life in Sweden. And the kids? well, they love me when I do their hair, make pop-corn or organise pyjama parties, and hate me when I make them eat vegetables and clean their rooms.

Today was Fettisdag, and with the help of some semlor and cream, I became the most popular stepmom in the whole planet, and loved it. So, I would say for a bonusmamma from another “planet”, that’s about as normal as it gets!



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