Host Valérie Robert met the man of her life, chef Martin Juneau, in 2015. At the same time, she became the mother-in-law of Simone and Léonie, aged 2 and 5.
Seeking her place in this new family dynamic that she did not know, she tried to find her bearings by looking for books on step-parenting. Finding nothing on the subject, she decided to write her own guide La blonde de papa, released on June 5, by collecting testimonies from other mothers-in-law.
How do you explain the “mean” stepmother stereotype?
“It is true that it is well anchored in our popular culture. In the world of comedians, we always make tiring mother-in-law jokes, because a mother-in-law also represents the mother of her spouse.
This book demonstrates that the role of mother-in-law can have a different face than it is generally associated with.
Why did you want to make a book about it?
“First of all, I did it for me because it did me a lot of good to talk with other women who lived my reality. I realized we were going through the same thing. This book taught me a lot about my role and it was a re altherapy. Then I said to myself that it could benefit all the other mothers-in-law like me who were looking to take their place. In the book, there are 20 testimonies, including my own, of different types of women who live in all kinds of situations. It is certain that by reading it, each mother-in-law will find things with which she identifies and which will be useful to her. »
You will find testimonials in the book, sometimes from anonymous women, sometimes from women well known to the public, including Émily Bégin, Marie-Soleil Dion, Sophie Durocher, Ingrid Falaise and Kim Rusk.
How do you maintain a good relationship with the biological mother?
I think you have to put yourself in her shoes and realize how upsetting it must be for her to know that her children are in someone else's arms every other week. My parents separated when I was young and my mother always welcomed my mothers-in-law with open arms. So I thought it would be like that for me too, and not at all. We had some green and immature ones, me and the mother of the girls, but over time, everyone learns about it and it gets better. We must succeed in finding a certain harmony between adults for the good of the children.
What is the spouse's role in all of this?
It's super important to communicate with your boyfriend from the start to find out what his expectations are and what place he is ready to give you and how far you have the right to go as a mother-in-law in discipline and educationfor example. My boyfriend greatly supported me in this and was able to set his limits too. How do your lover's daughters perceive you today?
Like a second mom. Today they are older and they are lucky to have three parents. From the start, it clicked with Simone & Léonie, I was very lucky. Probably the more the meeting is done with young children the easier it is. Having received testimonies from other women who met the children of their lover in adolescence, the first contact is certainly more difficult. It requires more work to do with the child and frank and honest discussions.
What do you think is the key to being a good mother-in-law?
Time has taught me to let go. No situation will be perfect and step-parenting is a roller coaster of emotions. You may not have carried the children in your belly, but you carry them in your heart and you have to get used to the idea that as daddy's girlfriend, you will always be the second and that you don't will never be en titled to the same recognition as the mother for everything we do for the children. It's a very thankless role, but I wouldn't trade my place in girls' lives for anything in the world.
The book La blonde de papais on sale for $29.95 in good bookstores since June 5.