I’m Their Stepmom, Not Hers

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I reached a vey obvious conclusion–hence the title.  I think I have been trying far too hard to establish a working CoMama relationship with her.  I see now that this energy would have been better spent on forging a relationship with the kids, especially Ethan.  Evan and I already have a close bond.  In a sense, it doesn’t really matter if she and I have a relationship or not as long as we treat each other cordially.  I can’t guarantee that she will abide by this principle, but I am certain that I will (think Romans 12:18).

This thought occurred to me as we celebrated Ethan’s birthday.  It felt so good to see him relaxed and happy.  That’s what matters the most–their happiness and growth. 

I know that the kids were aware of our past animosity.  I felt ashamed by this and felt if they saw us working through it that they would’nt feel so divided.  She after all is their mother so they have that automatic loyalty to her–whether she is right or wrong.  I am only joined to them through marriage.  And what kid feels comfortable around someone who doesn’t like their mom?  We have never badmouthed her around the kids, even though I know she has been obscenely vocal about her rancor toward me and my husband, she is still mom…

 In other words I didn’t feel good about having them choose sides and putting them in the middle.  Kids should allowed to be kids–not miniature liasions for immature, narcistic adults.  With this in mind I’ve attempted to build a bridge with their mom and involve her as much as possible in their lives.  However, she continues to be paranoid and stressed about a situation she is helpless to change.  She refuses to accept any acts of grace for the simple fact that she is not a gracious person.  Therefore anyone extending her any type of kindness makes her suspicious.  In her eyes kindness is a facade for a hidden agenda or two.

Regardless of who she is I owe it to them to be the best stepmom that I can be.  I don’t owe her anything.  This is such a liberating notion because I’ve carried the burden of trying to help her deal with her imprisonment for far too long.

And not to say that I don’t wish that it could be different, because I truly do.  But, most importantly I see that the kids also need and deserve help lifting their burdens.  The burdens of violence and dysfunction that they lived with for so long under her watch.  They really had no choice.  Eliza, an adult, had choices.  Unfortunately she made the wrong one and will have to live through it, as do her children.  Hopefully my role as stepmom can make Ethan and Evan’s journey in life more bearable .

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7 responses »

  1. I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful blog!
    You continue to be a wonderful source of information for me and an inspiration, besides. I may not always comment, or even read everyday, but make no mistake, I read everything you write. Thanks!

    This is an interesting post.

    I too was caught in this trap, but soon it soured as I was sacrificing myself for the kids and their mother. No more. I will put myself first. If I don’t, there will be nothing left of me, and I will not be able to parent at all.

    So, the kids know I dislike their mother – but only because she no longer hangs out at my house. I do not bad mouth her and always talk of her either neutrally or enthusiastically. In person I am always civil, polite and factual. I have explained to them that we are no longer friends because I disagree with her choices. They do not have to choose between us either. They just have to treat me politely and respectfully – that is all. I have accepted that I will never be their mother and that I am just a glorified babysitter or at best a favorite aunt. And that is fine.

    I think it’s been a valuable lesson for them about conflict and staying true to your own beliefs and ideals, yet still maintaining a functional relationship.

    Since I have had this change of heart about where I fit in, my relationship with the kids has actually improved. I think they really see that I am in no way a threat to their relationship with their mother. And so they can just be their wonderful kid selves around me.

  2. Natz G~

    Hey girl, it’s good to hear from you! I have been checking your blog faithfully waiting for a post!

    Your comment could have been a post–thanks for the encouragement! I’ve had enough of sacrificing, I just want to be free to be me. I am already worn to the bone as is. You are so right in that it takes a load off of the both the stepmom and the kids. I am content knowing that I tried. While you can lead a horse to water–you can’t make them drink, however, you can salt the oats! But I guess the horse named Eliza just ain’t thirsty!

    P.S. I love your insight!

  3. It’s so wonderful to have these revelations and bring yourself to a new level with your stepchildren. I know that I’m so blessed to have such an amazing relationship with my stepdaughter. I wish you so much joy in working on your relationship with your stepsons. It’s taken 6 years to really feel the emotions reciprocated from my stepdaughter, but it’s been worth every effort and every moment. Blessings to you and your family.

  4. PB~

    Yes, I’m discovering that I must be patient! Good things do come to those who wait. And I know that I have to allow them to get to know me and not the picture that she painted of me. It feels so good to take charge of growing our family without feeling victimized. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. “And what kid feels comfortable around someone who doesn’t like their mom?”

    That question resonated with me. I recently apologized to my stepkids for sending an email to their mom that she didn’t like. I only labeled her BEHAVIOR in the email, but she took offense and took it out on the kids. The reason I sent the email was because she and my stepdaughter had tried to get my daughter to participate in a deception against my husband. I NEVER want one of my kids deceiving my husband and I made sure to let her know that in the email. Unfortunately, BM is not a rational person and she took the email as a personal attack on her and claimed I said things I didn’t.

    It made things uncomfortable here at home until I apologized (not for the content of the email, but for not letting my husband fight the battle that was his to fight). I even invited her to go to lunch with me so that we could try to iron out our differences. Of course the invitation was spurned. But, the kids know I tried and the uncomfortable feeling in the home has subsided.

    And the kids know that it was wrong to try to lie to their dad, which is the most important thing.

  6. Kweenmama~

    It is so hard sometimes! Because while I know that feel this way about their Mom, it’s not the same for their Dad. They have heard her badmouth him and know that she does not like him in any form, yet this does not bother them in the slightest.

    I can relate to you apologizing. It’s definitely better than living with tension.

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