Saturday, October 19, 2013

Soapbox of a stepmom

Since so many people ask how I can get along with my kids "other mother" so naturally and easily, I'll take a moment to explain.
First and foremost: my ex-husband and I both knew that in choosing divorce we were allowing someone else to parent our children. For me, this someone else would not be chosen by me, but by their father. I could love her or hate her, but its a choice I made my deciding to leave the marriage rather than save it. Fortunately I loved her from the moment I met her.
Second: She NEVER acted like the stepmom. And she never tried to one-up me, never tried to make me jealous, never  called the kids HIS kids. Basically, she loved my kids and accepted me as their mommy with all of my flaws and misgivings.
Third: I didn't treat her like the stepmom. I didn't throw my ex-husbands past sins in her face, I didn't tell her that there were duties that were mine and mine alone as their "real" mom and that she had no right to do them. I didn't use her husband as a manipulation tool, nor did I use the kids as leverage. I welcomed her as their family, their parent and their friend.
The fact is, she's important to them. Are there times they confide in her more than me? Absolutely. Are there times they prefer her house over mine? Of course. Sometimes she out-Chrismases me and out-birthdays me. She takes them to the doctor and the dentist when they need it and sometimes she does it without calling me to make sure I approve (gasp!).  They say she's awesome, and I don't resent her for it. They call her mom and I encourage it.  They love her, not almost as much as me, but the same. And she couldn't love them more if she'd carried them for eight months and been there from day one as I had.
My point is you can love the co-parent or hate them but I know from experience as a bio-mom and a step-mom that the way a woman treats her children's stepmother from day one will affect the way co-parenting is done for the rest of the children's lives, the rest of the new mommy's life and the rest of YOUR life. So mommy, be good to the stepmom because she loves your kids just as much as you and there's nothing you can do to change that (and chances are she has enough dirt on you to make your life miserable).