For almost 4.5 years, I've been playing the role of Evil Stepmother to The Mister's three lovely daughters. They've made the evil part quite difficult for me, because they've been kind and welcoming and easy to get along with. Other than Tammy's insistence that I call her gorgeous, it's been a walk in the park.
But even before I got the job, The Mister had told me plenty about their mother. Very few kind words were spoken about her; her misdeeds and lapses in maternal judgment made her seem remote from - and disinterested in - her daughters' lives. She's been a no-show at major life events for several years.
I met her Saturday at the baby shower for grandchild #8.
She decided that very morning to to come to the shower (and made the long drive after calling to inquire about the weather). Upon her arrival, the tension in the house was palpable. None of the girls seemed thrilled to see her, and she didn't rush forward with apologies and hugs. I lurked in the kitchen, finishing up some last minute prep work (that was already completed). I was a chicken shit.
Tammy said they were tense FOR me, since this would be our first meeting. I was tense for THEM (and for myself).
We were introduced and said "Hi". End of conversation. Had there not been other guests and small talk, we might have heard crickets.
We had the usual baby shower fun: good food, good conversation, games and good wishes.
I won the Celebrity Baby Name game...I rock at shower games.
She declined the food - she had had breakfast in bed earlier that morning. While we ate, she stared at me. I didn't detect a look of malice in her eyes, she just stared - and I became uber aware of my eating habits. Did I dribble tomato sauce on my sweater? Did I take a gargantuan bite of salad? Her gaze made me uncomfortable.
I assuaged my discomfort by having a nice chat with a beautiful three-month old baby girl.
I love me some baby time.
I must admit that I also did some watching of my own. I didn't stare - I'm a seasoned people watcher, I know how to get a gander without drawing attention to myself. I moved about the rooms, taking furtive glances and listening to little snippets of conversation.
She was a train wreck and I couldn't help looking.
If you've ever been to a baby shower, you'll hear talk about labor and sleepless nights, and tales of supportive husbands. Other mothers will dispense friendly advice and offer tips to help make adjusting to an infant an easier process.
I didn't hear her offer any encouraging words to her own daughter.
I felt bad for the girls; I hated seeing them tense.
I moved to a location out of her line of sight when the gifts were being opened - in truth, my new spot offered me a better view of the presents, and of the mother-to-be's reactions.
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. In truth, I had had enough "face time".
She was one of the first to leave, telling each girl goodbye and uttering a "Love you all" as she got to the front door.
In the kitchen, Tammy said, "Now we can breeeaaattthhhe".
I started thinking about the fact that some folks say that you marry the same person, over and over - and began wondering if I was similar to her. Did The Mister marry me to continue a trend?
I hoped not...and I asked Tammy that very question when I rode home with her in the van.
Tammy answered with an emphatic "no".
When I got home, brandishing leftover cake, I asked The Mister just what he saw in her - what was she like when she was younger?
He described her as a young woman.
That wasn't the woman I met Saturday.
She's missing out on so much - three perfectly lovely daughters and their spouses, five terrific grandchildren - and getting to know and love the new grandchild who will be joining the family in April.
As for me? I wouldn't trade in my Evil Stepmother ID card for the world.