Can you relate? Here’s what I read recently …
"Letting him go is one thing, but sharing my kids with another woman... that I cannot do. Fine, if he’s gone. I’ll get over that. Fine if he left me for another woman. I’ll get over that. But, there is no way in heck I am going to let another woman, especially that woman, parent my children. Never! Ever! They’re mine.”
Wow! I understand this train of thought. I think almost every mom who has someone else step into that “mom-like” role with her kids feels some version of this at some point.
Who can parent (mother) my kids as well as I can?
How come she gets to spend some time with my children when I want to be with them all the time?
I didn’t sign up to be a part-time mom so that some other woman could spend the other half of their time with them. I don’t want her influencing my kids. I don’t want her touching my kids.
Let’s keep this train of thought going … I don't want her soothing them back to sleep at night when they are having nightmares. I don’t want her to put on the band-aid when my son’s knee gets scraped. I don't want her talking with my daughter about boys and dating. I don't want her to go to their sporting events. I don’t want her to have any fun with them.
Seriously? That means that when your son falls and scrapes his knee and you aren’t there that you would prefer no one comfort him?
That means when your daughter is experiencing teenage boy drama that you want her to be crying alone in her room?
That means when your kids have sporting events that you want them to feel guilt or angst as they look in the stands to see who is cheering them on?
That means you don’t want them to have any fun with her. That feels kind of selfish, doesn’t it?
I was listening to our local morning radio show yesterday, and one of the DJ’s said she never intended to have any children. She’s 30, and one of the other DJ’s asked her why. Her first answer was because she knows she is not “self-less” enough to have kids. I liked her honesty.
She said she knows that you can’t be selfish once you have kids, and she said she doesn’t see that happening as she likes her life the way it is. Kudos to her for being self-aware enough to know this about herself, and for being brave enough to articulate it (especially in a society that often doesn't support women who intentionally choose not to have kids).
She’s right. As parents, I believe we do have to become less selfish. It’s not all about us anymore, but rather many of our actions and our decisions have to do with what is in the best interests of our children.
Often, what is in their best interests can feel in conflict with what we want or what we believe is in our best interests. When this happens, do we go with what we want, or with what we know is best for our kids? It can frequently seem like a tough choice.
You may not want your children to have any exposure or to spend any time with “that woman,” but the reality is that it is going to happen.
You can’t stop it.
Why make it miserable and difficult for them? Think about the ramifications. Your children may feel guilty if they know you hate her, when they actually think she is nice. Guilt is not a positive emotion.
Do you want to create an atmosphere where you are responsible for setting up a negative relationship? Do you want to perpetuate the “evil-Step-Mom” scenario, and create needless drama?
I am a huge advocate of putting differences aside, and putting the best interests of the kids at the forefront of the relationship. You may not like her, but you presumably do have common ground in looking out for the kids.
Make that your platform.
Learn to embrace the fact that there is another maternal figure that is there to care for your kids when you can’t be there. A simple change of perspective can be really enlightening.
As difficult as it may be, make sure you do all you can to open those lines of communication as it relates to the kids. The kids will see this, and benefit from it. It helps to put all “parents” on the same page with respect to rules and expectations. The ability to play one parent against the other diminishes when the kids know that the parents talk about them.
Nobody says you have to become BFF’s with the other woman (be it your ex-‘s girlfriend or his new wife), but you should dive deep into your heart to let go of your own anger and selfishness, and consider what is truly in the best interests of your precious children.