How to Become a Stepmother

by Beverly Rollwagen

Remember: This is a test you cannot pass.
The thirteen year old asks, "Where are your kids?"
When you say you don't have any, she tells you,
"His last girlfriend did, and we are best friends."

Feel yourself slip through the blue of her eyes.
The sixteen-year-old watches you from all five
corners of the room. When her father is there
she is pleasant, smiles, asks about your cat.

When he leaves a happy man, she tries to kill you
seven different ways. She sets herself on fire
and says you did it. She watches your chest rise
and fall and hates your breath. If you try to touch

her, her arm falls off. She is a sensitive creature.
Be patient. Soon, you marry the father. The girls
come late to the wedding and pull wrinkled dresses
from paper bags to stand in the living room.

crying for their mother. They throw all their arms
around their father and hold him tight within their
skirts for the last time. Stand outside yourself
in your silly white suit with the gold buttons.

Feel the orchid grieve against your cheek. Finally,
the one who hates you most reaches out and pulls
you in. Feel all their arms around you. Think,
this is my wedding. This is our wedding.

please note: photo by rcipfw on Flickr


  1. Oh so familiar, as I am a stepmother. Now his youngest looks at our wedding pictures and denies her anger at the time, for she loves me (as much as she can) now. And I love her more than I ever expected.

  2. Oh! The stress of it all. It's hard to be a step parent.

  3. I am a step mother....but to be honest,....I am the lucky one. the "Three" were all old enough to like me as a friend...smiles.


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