Title: In defense of step-momsby Gabriela S. Gaione CatepónTo Carlota and Susana, my step-mom and the non-step one, may she rest in peace.
‘For the loser now/Will be later to win/For the times /they are a-changin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylanotherhood must be the one thing in the World that most cultures venerate, even if there are some differences among them. According to the Merriam Webster onlinedictionary, the noun mother is primarily
a female parent.
isto originate, to be the source of.
In a way, mothers are similar and
all over the world. Much has been said about wickedstepmothers and other relatives such as sisters and uncles in both the western and the easterncultural stories and tales. Yet, the figure of the mother has been generally spared from thehitch that brings about conflict and grief, in spite of the generally happy ending arrangementsof most children tales. Mothers, unlike their step counterparts are the she- hero characters thatarmed with the sole power of their motherly love solve the most difficult conflicts and generallysucceed in seeing that their children’s lives go through the right path even if that entails theirown death-at least that is what most fairy tales are all about. In fact, the lack of a mother thatmost fairy tale princesses share almost as a principle is what triggers the tragedy that they areto face until they meet their so called real destiny- that more often than not includes a royalalliance of some sort and a fairy godmother.So much for the legacy of the Grimm brothers and others like them who chose to picture thelocations of their fictitious legendary sagas in some reigns during the middle ages, with noblood tests, internet or cell phones, but with a great array of magic wands and spells the powerof them is always as astonishing as appropriate to the occasion. Orphans, fairies, giants,warriors, witches, dragons, magicians and castles are the leit motif of the legacy of both theEast and the West, suggesting that there are many things in common in both culturalparadigms no matter how dissimilar they might be. Mothers are just one bit of the overlappingarea. Biologically responsible for their offspring, they care for them despite all odds. It is those
ones, the 98% wicked, vain yet beautiful stepmothers that carry the burden of theorphans’ grief, and pay a ridiculous price for loving the rich, royal and masculine widowerwhose only drawback happens to be the kids under his supervision. The pattern replicates itself in Snowhite, Cinderella, and other Grimm stories, and extends to the twentieth and twenty firstcenturies in the form of Latin American soap operas and American or European sitcoms. If oneis to find a villain, go for the stepmother. That is a winning formula.Nevertheless, this essay constitutes a challenge to this vision. As a mother, at times one may find that she treats her children just as bitterly and shrewdly asour brain recalls a stepmother’s behavior. If not, most mothers would never feel guilty about