When I divorced my Ex Husband 20 years ago, he threatened to make sure our daughter knew who "I really was." Not surprising his view wasn't particularly flattering. Several months later he jumped into a relationship with his now former Wife and Elle's former Step Mom, Malus. In short order, Malus self appointed herself the enforcer of my Ex Husband's promise and took over 99% of his parenting duties. Which by default meant I was co-parenting with a narcissist that was not my Ex.
Co Parenting With A Narcissist That Is Not Your Ex
I didn't immediately see that Malus was a narcissist. Initially she seduced me into thinking she was my friend, greatest ally - bringing me into her inner circle. The circle that the outside world never sees because otherwise they would be total outcasts. The circle that becomes a nightmare once you're inside.
An open letter from a Mom to the StepMom a few weeks ago went viral and with it the implication a Mom and StepMom's ideal relationship should be that of two Besties. While in theory it sounds like a reachable goal, reality paints a far more challenging picture that has all the makings of friendship never happening. The better alternative, the one more likely to succeed is creating an atmosphere of Friendly Not Friends With The Ex.
I remember the day Raylan's Ex Wife (one of them) said I feel like Lisa has totally REPLACED me - Raylan and I were not married, nor living together. It had come on the heels of Raylan telling Greta how happy we were to be taking the next step - living together.
With one brush Greta had tagged me as Raylan's Replacement Wife. A woman stepping into her shoes; the ones she no longer wanted to wear, but didn't want anyone else to wear either. Only to me, I didn't feel like I had replaced her, nor Raylan's other Ex Wife - I had brought my own pair of shoes to wear to my own party. People from her life were apart of the new life Raylan and I had created - I was not apart of the life she had chosen to leave behind.
As an Ex Wife myself - divorced from my Ex Husband 17 years now - I don't recall feeling like Dick's Wife had replaced me. It didn't mean I wasn't innocent in discounting her role.
Ever notice that whenever someone either writes or talks about divorce there is always those vocal group of perfectionists letting all of us who are divorced know that we are, well, quitters? Opining that we divorcees like to take the easy way out in life, while they meanwhile do all the hard work by staying married.
Never for one moment have I entertained the notion that I somehow took the easy way out by divorcing my first Husband. FIVE reasons why Divorce is never the EASY choice:
Writing my blog has never been a secret, but it wasn't something that I felt I needed to broadcast five years ago to the THREE EX WIVES in my life. Nor did I want or need to get their permission. No, my Hubby didn't pick up another Ex Wife; my Ex Husband did which brings a total of THREE onto the scene.
One of my favorite things to do around this time of year is browse through "Oprah's Favorite Things" List. For many years, I've entertained the idea of doing one of my own. So on that note, here is my first go around of sharing some of my Favorite Things. A combination of favorite gifts I've received to favorite things that make our Family Holiday Breakfasts more fun and enjoyable.
My third Mother's Day, my Ex HusbandDick was living with his girlfriend(now former wife) who he had bestowed upon her the title of MOM to our daughter. I had unceremoniously been demoted to the Lisa (The Pesky Bio Mom he tolerated thanks to the legal system). That particular Mother Day's fell on my Ex Husband's weekend. Which made me all the more adamant that I would get MY time with My daughter on that one Sunday in May if it killed me.
I've-been-lucky-to-be-apart-of-raising-three-kids. One Bio - Two Step. Hers-His-And-Ours.
I was laser focused on proving to myself - to my Ex Husband - to his Wife and anyone that would listen really that I was in fact THE MOM. What better way to do that than on the one day designed specifically for Mom's - Mother's Day! Showcase my Momness while the world is watching.
When I divorced my Ex Husband 19 years ago, my Mama Bear mentality went into overdrive. I was convinced that I was the only person who could love and protect Elle. Add to that my need to prove - I'm a good Mom even if I did divorce the father of my child....... My mantra became - Cross my kid - I'll make your life a living HELL!
Divorced Mom = Mama Bear on steroids! GRRR!!!
It's not just Divorced Moms, Divorced Dad's pretty much fall into the same trap when protecting their young.
It's a fantasy that we all at some point entertain even if we don't say it out loud - wouldn't life be better, easier if the Ex just wasn't around? No more back and forth, constant negotiation, different house rules, splitting life smack dab down the middle...... It's not that we wish for harm to fall upon the Ex - we just wish for simple, easy. But life is never simple or easy - Ex or no Ex in your life.
If we didn't have the complications of a Blended Family to contend with - there inevitably would be something equally as challenging right there to take its place. My friends with families minus the Blended seem to have just as many issues as we do - just different issues - the key word being issues. Every family has issues.
Its been years since I've been to the "What If" scenario. So when the phone rang with news that Greta, Mom to Jax and Little Hart, had suffered a heart attack - I felt guilty for ever having entertained the thought.
Whether I'm 5 or 46 there's just sometimes when I need to hear THE VOICE OF MOM on the other end of the line. It could be that I have some fantastic news to share - devastating news or no news at all! Mostly I take comfort in the fact that day or night I can call my Mom if I want and she'll answer! It's the same relationship I have with my daughter Elle. Five years ago - not so much!
THE VOICE OF MOM
Immediately when I heard about the bombings in Boston - I felt a personal connection with my daughter living back East. I immediately called and texted Elle to "check in" - when she didn't pick up my heart started racing.
JUST SAYING NO when it doesn't work for your schedule or your emotional health is absolutley neccesary when you're a Mom and/or a Step Mom in a blended family. If you're anything like me - you may be saying YES when inside you're screaming not only NO, BUT HELL NO!
It's a common habit for StepMom's of a blended family to do especially when you're the newbie on the block! You want to be liked, maybe even loved and you mistakenly think saying YES - being everyone's Go To Gal will you get you there, but it rarely does.
When my daughter Elle was born 18 years ago, I thought no one could take care of her the way I could including my own mother! My Mom was quick to point out that well - she raised me and I survived, as well as, my three brothers - if she could raise four kids she probably could muddle through watching my baby while I took a shower! Hard to argue with that logic!
Over time you get over yourself, you still think deep down YOUR way is the one and only way, but you're willing to let the little things slide when others care for your child for that well deserved break that you needed yesterday! Still the overbearing mother instinct comes roaring back in a hurry with the introduction of a Step Mom into your child's life - no matter what their age.