It#039;s the part after step#039; that counts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 28, 2001

This month, I have gotten so

many cards in the mail from readers, thanking me for my articles or columns. I love to get mail from readers.

I received one letter from a very nice lady in Georgiana

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who read last week's column, and was touched by the love I have for my stepmother. She wrote in her letter that she, too, is a stepmother and felt that sometimes stepparents never measure up to the natural parents, no matter how hard they try.

I have been most blessed with my stepparents. My stepmother has been in my life my whole life. Her sister is married to my father's brother so she has always been part of the family. She and my father were married when I was about three and I have grown up with

having two mothers

two great mothers at that.

My stepfather came into my life when I was six, and although I swore I would never be anything like him, I am so glad that I am.

My stepparents and I haven't always gotten along, but neither have me and my mom and dad. I don't expect that the four of us will ever see eye-to-eye, but that's because I have all the qualities of my four parents,

plus some I picked up on my own along the way. And I

hate to say it, but if I were exactly like any one of the four

of my parents, I never would have left Mobile, Ala., and certainly would never have lived in Wisconsin or definitely not New York

heaven forbid.

But, parents and stepparents have a really hard job, especially these days. I was recently at R.L. Austin and was talking to one of the teachers. "I didn't even know what drugs were when I was five years old," I told her after looking through some essays on the topic, "What being drug-free means to me."

The topics that parents have to deal with these days is very different than what my parents had to deal with.

It scares me to think about what I might have to face if I

ever have children (yes, Mom, I did say if). But, I am bound to be a good parent, one day, if I am anything like the four people who were the driving force behind my own success, and to them, I send out a very sincere thank you.