Once or twice my son has accidentally called her ‘mommy’ while speaking to me about her on the phone. He also tells me about hours of game playing on her iPhone and how she allows him to eat giant boxes of Astros while watching a DVD before bedtime.
Last week I had an intensely awkward conversation with one of the other mothers at my son’s school who couldn’t understand why I didn’t know about the play date she and ‘I’ had been arranging over WhatsApp for the past few weeks.
So in my mind, this girl sounds like a lovely playmate for my son but is clearly so wanting in terms of being a mother that I struggle to understand what the father of my son is even thinking. Also, this rather sudden appearance of another mother figure in my son’s life causes an actual physical pain in my chest and makes it difficult for me to breathe. Sounds a little dramatic but if it’s happened to you you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Being a mother is not for sissies, here are some of the things I’m doing to cope with this ‘wicked step-mother’ intrusion:
1. Love and gratitude.
So she lets my son do things that drive me completely crazy and that I would never allow, but as far as I can tell, from what I hear from my son and my ex, she loves him. Madly. I am so grateful for this. She could have been one of those women that secretly resent their partner’s children or the time their partner spends with their children. But she loves him and enjoys spending time with him and the feeling is mutual.
2. Understand and accept.
She may not be the kind of woman I would have chosen to be such a strong presence in my son’s life, but it is not my choice to make. Accepting this has led me to the understanding that what is important is that she makes my ex happy and that this in turn creates a happy environment for my son to grow in when he is with his father.
3. Remember and trust.
There was a time when my relationship with my ex was not what it is now. When we had ‘forever’ in our hearts. There was a reason for that. Although our relationship did not work I have to remember and trust in the knowledge that his relationship with his son means everything to him and that it is that which he values above all else. I have to trust that he will always do the best that he can for our son.
Communication with my ex about how we continue to raise our son is key to ensuring that he continues to develop in the rather fabulous way that he is. We still share the same hopes and aspirations for him. While I can’t tell my ex how to live his life I can express my concerns about my son eating too much sugar or being allowed too much playtime on devices; because as co-parents we have agreed that there are certain things that are and are not good for our son. So as long as we continue to communicate and understand that our son’s wellbeing is what is most important, I trust that these concerns will be addressed in his home.
It is important for me to nurture my son’s relationship with this woman. My son is a very sensitive soul and whenever he speaks to me about her he sort of looks more closely at me than he usually would and he’ll gently touch my arm or something. Or completely avoid talking about her. I don’t want my seven year old son to feel that he needs to protect me. I cannot allow my own pain to cloud his life. So I tell him what an incredibly lucky boy he is to have so many people that love him, honestly, he is.
Join Parent24 on Twitter and Facebook or continue the conversation on step parenting on our Forums.
What were your coping mechanisms you used to deal with an intruding step-mother?