I remember years ago seeing the movie “Stepmom” in theatres (with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon) 15 years ago.
I loved the movie then. I actually love any movie that makes me cry – and this one was no exception.
Little did I know that 15 years later, I would still love the movie, but I would also be living the life.
I was surprised to see that they showed the movie on TV on Mother’s Day. Weird, because Mother’s Day is an extremely tricky day for many Stepmoms.
Mother’s Day is a day that many of us celebrate motherhood. However, for many, being a Stepmom does not qualify as “real motherhood”.
Of course, having my own biological children means that Mother’s Day is not one of those awkward, sad days for me. And having amazing step kids also means that Mother’s Day is a celebration for me for being a Stepmom too. I am extremely grateful to have the family that I have. But I do feel for those Stepmom’s who are not in the same situation – those who don’t get to have their motherhood celebrated.
At church they usually hand out some little gifts to celebrate Mother’s Day. I love that they give every woman, over the age of 18, a gift. Why? Because motherhood stretches far past the definition of bearing children. Any woman, involved in touching the life of a child, is mothering. And that should be celebrated.
Back to the Stepmom movie.
Man, this movie has it right in so many ways.
I am a Stepmom, so can relate to Julia Roberts (the Stepmom) and how she feels.
But, I actually can look at Susan Sarandon (the Bio-mom) and relate to how she feels too. I can relate to her on the level of my boys having a Stepmom (although on and off) in their lives. And, I can also look at her and see how her reactions mimic very closely some of the actions/behaviours my skids’ Mom has.
The fear of being replaced. The insecurity that the Stepmom will do things better, or that the kids will like her better. The need to compete. The need to try to make the Stepmom look bad. It is such a challenging relationship.
Although, in all fairness, the Mom in this movie is dying, so I think that introduces a whole different dynamic, where I think some of the insecurities are generally more “warranted”.
But I think it comes down to confidence. Confidence of being a mother. Confidence of being a Stepmother. Confidence to pretend to have confidence even when you are feeling pretty unsure of yourself.
And the truth is? There is no replacement for a mother – so moms have no need to fear.
And I’m happy to say, there is a no replacement for a stepmother either.
In the movie, Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts have the most beautiful conversation, where Julia Roberts is talking about her insecurities as a Stepmom: “You know every story, every wound, every memory. Their whole life’s happiness is wrapped up in you…every single second. Don’t you get it? Look down the road to her wedding. I’m in a room alone with her, fixing her veil, fluffing her dress, telling her no woman ever looked so beautiful. And my fear is she’ll be thinking, “I wish my mom was here”
Then, Susan Sarandon responds, “And mine is…she won’t….The thing is, they don’t have to choose. They can have us both and be better for it. I have their past, you can have their future.”
I cried at the end of the movie the first time round because you know that the Mom is going to die shortly. It is just so unfair, so sad.
But this time round, I cried for a different reason. Yes, I cried because the Mom was going to die shortly. But I also cried because the Mom had given her children the greatest gift ever – the knowledge that their Mom loved them, and the permission for them to also love another woman – and be loved by another woman – in a motherly way.
Movies aside, the reality is the mom does have her children’s past, but both the mom and the stepmom have their futures. The kids really will be better for it.
And you know what, so will both women.