Snakes and Stepmoms

“Better a serpent than a stepmother!” – Euripides

I encountered three snakes in one week recently. Two rattlers and one garter. I have not seen a snake in years. I do not live in a snake-infested area. Then three in one week. I must admit it made me check my superstitions. And my biblical references.

I will also confess that I have an illogical fear of snakes. They give me the heebie jeebies. I logically know if I don’t bug the snake, the snake is not going to bug me. But that being said, when I saw the rattler slither ever so gracefully under the porch, in short order I convinced myself that that snake (which was getting bigger with every second of thought) was going to wait until bedtime, find its way onto the deck, unlock the bedroom window, take down the screen and with quiet efficiency glide its way between my clean white sheets.

The logical and the illogical. How many times a day or a month do we struggle with these competing views?

Let’s take the label of stepmother for instance.

Logically, you know that when you meet one it means that the woman has married a man with kids. Illogically, I am going to take a wager that the story of Cinderella comes creeping into your thoughts too. That evil stepmother who locked the poor innocent girl in the attic.

Logically, you know she probably cares about those kids of said man she married. Illogically, you don’t believe that she could ever love them as much as her “own.”

Logically, you know she’s probably a normal, stressed out and flawed woman like the rest of us. Illogically, when you look up fiction books with a step mother in them you are presented with a lot of erotic fantasy options. She’s just plain naughty.

I have been asked why I wrote a memoir about my step mom experience. Part of it was to confront these logical and illogical notions. Better a snake than a step mom?! I have worn with the greatest amount of pride my step mom label and I have been forced to my knees by the weight of that same sticker. Logically, I became a step mom for all the right reasons. Illogically, it was a lot harder than I imagined it would be.

But while I may skip, dance and sometimes shout out a good ‘ole “motherfucker,” I do not slither.

So go to bed. Don’t worry about the snake. And let go of these step mom superstitions.


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