The Other "Woman"

I remember the day I first met you, when Daddy
Brought you to my mother’s house, all dressed in red.
"Always wanted a daughter, call me Mommy," you said,
Just barely three months since my mother was dead.
I’d have called you "Bitch" if I’d known that word,
But I didn’t, so all I could call you was all that I had.

You pushed me away from the start, and called me
names, like Lazy and Stupid and Always-in-the-Way.
I might have known why if I were older than nine,
But all I knew was that no matter how hard I tried,
I never measured up to the daughter you never had.
I couldn't be her because, just look, I was just bad.

Five years into it, one night you screamed that you'd had it.
You cleaned out your closets and packed up your bags.
Shouting harsh words, you stormed out with all of your stuff.
The truck came two days later and took all of ours.
You left us two beds and a television, two lawn
Chairs, two tray tables, our place to eat dinner at night.

Couple weeks later, the sheriff came to our house.
I was home alone after school, and I opened the door.
“Your daddy here, girl?” he asked me, puffing his chest out.
“No, sir.” He’s at work until six.”  He gave me some papers.
“Tell your daddy he’s been served."  He barked loudly.
"Now don’t you forget.  You hear me, girl?”

Back then, all I knew was that you were divorcing us,
Me and my daddy, and somehow it was all my fault.
You actually said so in the papers you filed. 
 “Cruel and unusual,” you called me, “a terrible child.
No marriage could work with her in the house."  
Back then, all I knew was that somehow I'd failed.  

Today I know better, now that I'm grown.
Today I know I was OK; it was you who was
Lacking in most everything but jealousy of a child.
My only sin was being that other woman, daughter.
And today I know. Oh, yes, I sure do.
Today I know exactly what I should call you.



Written for One Shot Wednesday.


  1. Powerful, Patti. Kids have such a hard time in this world. She did that little girl a favor when she left.

  2. boom..now that is some powerful stuff patti...wow...agree with sherry...ugh

  3. You must have known my first step-mother. Back then I called her 'Troll.' Fortunately, she is no longer around either.

  4. oh my - this touched me patti..glad she left in the end but children tend to think it's their fault when things go wrong...

  5. FABULOUS! I love the hands, I love the twist at the end. I see the reality.

    and your poor dad,

  6. Wow! That was powerful. Excellent.

  7. It feels good to get it off your chest.

    What horrid, unkind things to say to a child.

  8. Patti...
    You are such a great writer.
    My heart ached when I read this.
    Bitch is such a tame word.
    The word you seek begins with a C...

  9. Children so often take on blame when parental relationships go awry. Sad. But what a satisfying ending to this piece.

  10. Amazing how some adults blame children for their lack of self-esteem and cold hearts. Powerful poem that speaks volumes, Patti.

  11. I suspect if given half a chance, my step mother would have been the same. Luckily, I didn't see her much.

  12. So much admire this write. Strong, exposing, true--well composed, solid structure and rhyme. Brave woman, brave write, cleansing. Excellent. Gay

  13. Wow Patti..you hit step parenting on the head...I have been in both places and I am a firm believer that if possible it should be avoided...a rough road for all...bkm

  14. Too bad I didn't know you then. We could have fought her together.

  15. Laying it out there with precision! Glad you are amongst the survivors, you came out the victor. Powerful writing, blatantly honest.

  16. Forgive the nitpick, but I feel sure you mean "woman's" not "woman," near the end.

    I don't know if this is a true story or not, but it sure sounds that way. The lack was hers, to be sure, and you've renamed her perfectly. When we're very young, though, we do think everything is our fault. Don't think someone like her doesn't know that and play on it. I hope someone puts hair remover in her shampoo bottle.

  17. The pain and hurt and confusion surrounding this subject are communicated so well. A very powerful, deeply moving piece. I like your honesty and sense of realism.


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.