Eventually, she’s coming…the woman who will become stepmom to my children!
I’ve logged seven years in the stepmom role. I’ve tended to my partner’s ill children, helped them with homework, celebrated every holiday and special event with them, dried their tears, packed their bags full of school supplies for the first day of school, tied neckties before the homecoming dance, been in the audience for countless concerts and sporting events, washed their clothes, cooked their meals, and every imaginable thing one could do for a child.
I’ve celebrated our moments of family closeness. I’ve had my heart crushed when reminded of my status as an outsider. Through it all, I’ve been their “other” mother loving and caring day in and day out.
What I have not had to experience until now is wearing the shoes of mom facing a stepmom. I’ve always just been “mom”, the mom to my own two children, with never a bit of interference, competition, or involvement from another woman in my own children’s lives. My ex has had a series of girlfriends (at least six) since we parted ways. None stayed around long enough to make a lasting impression on my children or to become a part of their lives. Until now.
“Kate” has been dating my ex for about five months now. Not an eternity, but long enough for him to talk about moving out-of-state to be closer to her. She has met my kids, but not spent an inordinate amount of time with them. She is a huge part of their dad’s life, but they are still in the introductory phases with her.
I have always imagined myself taking an extremely evolved stance as the “bio-mom” accepting a stepmom-type figure into our situation. I’ve talked to my kids about not feeling guilty about liking and accepting a new person into their lives, and I’ve tried to give myself the pep talk about the importance of being civil, cooperative, and drama free.
Heck, I’ve lived on the receiving end of a high-conflict mother for years, and I wouldn’t wish that sentence on anyone- not the new woman, not myself, and mostly not my kids! I know how the dysfunctional side lives the blended family and stepparent life, and I simply do not have the patience or energy to make the significant other of my ex my target for annihilation!
Best intentions aside, I found myself conflicted, a little pissed off, and in need of checking myself again this morning after a conversation with my ex. Our son, an 8th grader, will begin high school next year. He’s a smart kid with lots of potentials. He knows he wants to go to college, but he hasn’t definitively locked down a major or career path. He’s fourteen. Yes, he should start to develop a plan; but, but I’m 44 and still “locking down” mine!
My ex, who has had a rocky relationship with both of the kids the past couple of years (all his focus on having a social life has taken its toll on them, and they’re frustrated by him), asked me if our son has talked to me about college and what he wants to do. He informed me that “Kate” (who has only seen my children a handful of times) has done some research about what test scores our son will need to be accepted at one of the colleges he’s interested in, and what kinds of college prep classes he will need.
My knee-jerk reaction (kept to myself) was something along the line of “stay in your lane, chicky! Who the hell does she think she is?”
The logical side of me, that tries to be devil’s advocate, intervened. I tried to understand the motivation for the insertion into what I consider to be our business. Let me remind you, while “Kate” may be all that and a bag of chips, she is still very new on the scene and does not yet have an actual relationship with the kids. I have to assume she spoke out and did her little investigation as a gesture of showing that she cares or wants to be involved. It’s a minor infraction, I suppose if we call it an infraction.
She didn’t tell my kids to call her “mommy.”
She didn’t overstep in a drastic way such as cutting my daughter’s hair without asking.
She didn’t hijack a major holiday or special occasion or try to take over our co-parenting system, which my ex and I have painstakingly constructed after years of co-parenting and many trials and errors.
She probably just responded to a comment he made about his son and son’s future and thought she would be nice to share what she knew. I will refrain from imagining the absolute worst or thinking there was anything more sinister involved.
Time will tell what can be expected from her involvement, or if they will break his current dating record and persist past seven months. Whether “Kate” is “the one” or not, eventually, some other woman is going to ride into town and establish a foothold in my children’s lives.
My wishlist for the woman who will become my children’s stepmom:
A kind and supportive friend to them who will be an additional loving presence in their lives.
An example of good traits and qualities.
A good partner to their dad who brings out the best in him so that they have an opportunity to see modeling of positive relationship skills. I especially want for my daughter to see her dad treat a woman with love and respect so that she sets these standards for herself!
A woman who understands that she is an addition to an already established situation. She may be able to offer support to make our ways more solid and efficient; but, she will understand the roles and relationships and have respect for boundaries. I have learned this hard lesson as a stepmom: I am not so much the star of the show as I am the backup singer!
A partner who inspires my ex to be the best father he can be. He must never forget the incredible gift he was given in becoming their father, and should never allow other distractions to prevent him from fulfilling his responsibility to them. If she really loves him and is a quality person, she will be delighted to see him be a great father, and will be honored to help him be the best he can be!
An amazing person with gifts, talents, and knowledge she can share with my children. I don’t know how to do everything; yet, I’m sure there are things I am really good at, that she’s not. She is a different woman, and a new addition to their lives; so, hopefully, she can enrich them in some ways that I can’t. This need not be a threat to me, hopefully, it can be a benefit to my kids!
I may be headed into a new phase of co-parenting. Like every other phase, I’ve encountered so far, I’ll get through this one too! If I really analyze where my anxiety comes from, it has nothing to do with my ex moving on with someone new. Instead, my fears reside somewhere around not wanting to see my children hurt in any way and not wanting the relative peace that my ex and I have established being disrupted.
I suspect that we will all fumble as we adjust to the growing pains of yet another member of our divorced family. I pledge to try to keep a positive attitude about this development and to try to encourage my kids to do the same. This experience is yet another reminder that divorce may be many years past in the rear view mirror; but, with children involved, there will always be new paths to travel as a result of our divorce. Quite honestly, I don’t plan for “Kate’s” and my paths to cross all that often. I have no intention of interfering with her position as my ex’s new partner and have no problem with her presence so long as it does not conflict with my role as mother to my children.
Like it or not, you have an indirect effect on the inner workings of his HH, just as your guy’s HCBM definitely reached her sticky shittiness into your otherwise awesome home.
It’s part of the deal and people that need disproportionate control (so many BMs) always, always find ways to subtlety throw shade at the new women. IMHO it’s an insecurity thing. I know my importance to my daughter ,even with a measly 35% time and never fret over stories of my ex’s bf in my daughter’s life. I know I’m number one so why concern myself with him just trying to fit in? He’s human. He wants to make time at that house as comfortable as possible for everyone. Only severely insecure people allow those worries of being replaced seep into outward actions, no matter how subtle. Just be the best you and the rest takes care of itself, seriously. Parenting is hard work, just imagine trying to create an imprint on a young life with only 35% time! Yeah, i know.
I argue that there is virtually no way around it with ex-wives though.
In my experience, even if they talk the talk, all the fakeness is transparent.
My ex sat down for coffee with my new wife and was seemingly nice to my wife.
Three days later she cancelled mediation and walked away from a tentative agreement on making the 50/50 status quo permanent on paper. Two months later she unilaterally stripped me of 4 days per month not ordered to me on paper but being exercised for the past 19 months.
Why? My wife had the audacity to suggest coparenting and things like having birthdays and bbqs together for the kid. Smdh. My ex was like, NOPE.
My ex-wife only likes to say the right things when people making decisions are watching. At heart, she’s a jealous, grumpy troll. It’s sad. When married I always told her she was being a negative nancy… it’s part of why I had to go. She always had this frown on her face but claimed she wasn’t upset. Some people are just unhappy with themselves.
Your article is interesting because you do admit to having all the feelings I’m sure my ex has. In her case, she also is trying to replace me with her mother. So sad.
My ex is so focused on the fact that she was dumped and not seeing the good in the situation. I was never going to love her after she showed her true colors. Ever. However, when I did move on, I didn’t expose my child to any other women at all, except for the one I eventually married and had more kids with. You think that helped things?? Haha.
My ex is mad she isn’t the one to have given our daughter siblings and loathes the fact that our daughter begs for more time at my house. She’s fighting tooth and nail ($25,000 in combined fees so far) to keep our daughter from me. She likes it 35me and 65her. Shit, she’d prefer even less for me.
She’s going to lose that battle in court and be forced to co-parent like an adult with 50/50. I hope she finds peace sooner rather than later through blogs like this.
More importantly, hopefully your ex can find the focus to zero in on his kids if that’s 100% the truth as your article claims. I have never wavered from my role as dad. Like I told my attorney, I have emails and texts requesting an increase to my parenting time every six months. I missed one day in four years because I had to go to the ER (adult ear infections are crazy effed up!) and I’m never late unless traffic sucks after work.
In short, remember what your HCBM did to your HH and consider what your actions could create in his…not for him, but for your sons. Their relationship is already on the rocks? If you want to seal the deal on that, just inject some drama their way. I know first hand how that goes and so do you.
Ok, let the hate come flowing from the comments. 🙂