By Anita Tedaldi: PNT columnist
I have a friend who’s a stepmom. She has two daughters with her husband, and his son from a previous marriage lives with them. The fact that “Holly” is a step-mom certainly doesn’t define who she is, but it has been an important part of her life and something that has taught her a lot about herself and her family.
Holly was in the military for many years, and she’s the kind of girl who everyone wants to be friends with. Really, if someone asked me to describe her I’d say she is the best version of an American stereotype — always ready to lend a hand, kind, funny and a great mom to all of her kids.
I admire her very much, and we’ve often talked about dealing with diversity in our lives.
I’m from Rome, and while I was already living in the United States when I met my husband, I had to adjust to military living and to my hubby’s ways and reserved Anglo-Saxon background, just like he had to get used to my Italian (colorful) way of doing things.
For example, my husband was horrified when I told him that I love to have sweet pastries in the morning (cornettos), and I was just as equally shocked when I saw him putting parmesan cheese on pizza, a cardinal sin. We had to learn to compromise on our different traditions and ways of doing things, and tried to focus on the things that were truly important to us, and to let go of those differences we could live with — though I still hide the parmesan cheese when pizza is around.
In a different way, but with similarities, Holly has had to make many adjustments and compromises with her step son, whom she has known since he was an 8-year-old boy. Her step-son’s mom and Holly were completely different people with different parenting philosophies and there was friction at times.
Some things her step son used to be able to do at his biological mom’s home he couldn’t do at Holly’s home, and there was a bit of a tug of war on both parts. Holly and her step-son learned to compromise and focus on the truly important stuff, letting some of the details slide.
Both Holly and I agree that while military life has been challenging, it’s also helped us, a woman from a small town in Oregon and a city-girl from Rome, embrace diversity.
There isn’t a more blended “family” than the military one. We come from different backgrounds, races and religions, we have different views on life, some of us come from wealth and others from a disadvantaged background, the list goes on. We are thrown into a diverse environment and try to integrate diversity in our everyday lives. Somehow we do it.
Sure, there is the occasional jerk, but that’s everywhere.
Holly and I are both satisfied with our diversities. It sometimes makes life harder, but more often makes it richer. I was thinking about this a few days ago when Holly had pizza at our house…and asked for the parmesan. I bit my tongue and retrieved it from its hiding place.
Diversity means some sacrifices, but its worth it.
Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: