Moms and stepmoms.
Wives and ex-wives.
If ever two groups of people could be characterized as mortal enemies, I would nominate these ladies.
I understand. I feel your pain. Both of your pain! I am both mom and stepmom, and I am both the wife and the ex-wife.
All I know is that the rivalry, drama, intense hatred, and pettiness is so ridiculously out of control that the quality of people’s lives is compromised! I’m not just referring to the women at battle with one another; but, their families, their partners, and most unfortunately, the children!
I get it. You met and became part of the same family system against your will, and very likely by starting off on the wrong foot. One of you is the former mate, one of you is the new partner. There were broken hearts, broken homes, children, and enough emotional energy to power a large city for a decade!
No matter if both of you were the nicest of nice people with the most civilized and amicable of divorce situations, your relationship requires both of you to step into very personal and sensitive territory to become wives and parents, and to endure a strange new way of life.
The following statements and questions are for myself and for all of you living as moms and stepmoms, wives and ex-wives. Some of them make me swallow hard because they touch a nerve and force me to face qualities in myself I need to work on.
Ladies, quite a few of us have some work to do if we’re ever going to end this ugly war!
To the mom and ex-wife:
I know. You were there first. He was yours. He may have done you wrong (maybe not), and you are angry and hurt from the events of the past. Now, you must send your children, your most precious reasons for living, to be away from you part time. You have no control over what happens to them while they’re away from you, and you just want the best for them.
A new woman comes into your ex’s and your children’s lives and, quite naturally, it’s a threat! How could you not feel sad, jealous, worried, and angry knowing that another woman shares her time with them? Who is she? You want to be the only woman they have affection for. You don’t want another woman imposing her values on them or affecting your relationship in any way.
Understand that she is your ex’s world now. Her relationship with him is completely different than yours. You may hate him and have bad memories; but, she does not. She will always side with him.
She should not ever try to replace you or in any way interfere with your relationship with the kids; but, there is no reason that she can’t be a loving presence in their life. Don’t you want someone to be nurturing and loving to your children when you can’t be with them? Do you realize that your children can love you with all their hearts and still have room to care about her, too?
I know you get mad when the stepmom inserts herself into decisions and parenting duties; but understand that decisions you make about money, schedules, and so on will also affect her (and possibly her children), so she does have a right to know what’s going on and to have an opinion.
That doesn’t mean that her voice will have the final say or that you and your ex aren’t the majority votes; but, like it or not, you are now part of a family system. You can choose to either fight every step of the way and live miserably, or you can choose to be flexible and cooperative.
Be glad that another person besides just you and your ex is willing to drive your kids places, cook and clean for them, take care of them when they’re sick, buy them things, and accept them into her heart.
Would you really want the alternative? Would you really prefer they have the “wicked step mother” who is mean, nasty, and abusive to them? Do you understand that the more conflict you cause, the more you will push her to that end? Are you so insecure in your relationship or parenting that you can’t let another person be a part of their life in addition (not instead of) you?
Your kids know who their mother is. Divorce doesn’t change that. You divorced their dad, not the kids. It’s time to step waging warfare against the new woman in his life. You will never have peace, be truly happy, or be able to move on until you let your anger and resentment go. Show your children how to live graciously, how to deal with conflict without stalking, cussing, insulting, resisting, trash-talking, undermining the authority of others, and generally setting an example of bitterness.
To the stepmom and new wife:
I hear you. You just want to be able to live your life without baby mama drama! You don’t want someone second guessing everything you do, getting involved with the activities of your home, coming after you and your man, and making your life a daily hell. You wonder why she can’t just let the past go, mind her own business, and be peaceful.
You may be performing a host of mothering duties, but you will never be the “mom.” You can never try to replace your step children’s mother, and you should respect the fact that she and your partner are the primary voices in parenting. While your life may feel that it’s held hostage by whatever they do, you did know you were becoming involved in a complicated situation, and you should respect any established routines they had rather that overturning everything to suit you.
Shame on you if you ever say or do anything to try to drive a wedge between the kids and their mom. She is part of them and what you say and do can hurt them. You may not agree with the way she does everything. She may not agree with you. It may feel like you got a free ex with purchase of new spouse; but, you must remain calm in the storm and not let your frustration show. It’s a tall order, but the kids need calm and it requires grace under pressure.
You can’t control her or how she runs her home. All you can do is control your reactions and your home. I understand the frustration but don’t lose your dignity through social media stalking, gossip, and stirring the pot. You are another adult in a position to model appropriate behavior to the kids.
Ladies, this is a tired mess! It’s time to start living life instead of living to undo another person. We’re better than this. We can put the kids first. We can be the first to extend an olive branch, or at least stop acting crazy. It’s a difficult situation we live in; but, we don’t have to be difficult people! If you want drama, keep feeding that drama monster; otherwise, make a choice to be more evolved! Peace.