To my son's future step mum
Forgive me if at times I appear a little brash. If, at times, I’m short, impatient, or perhaps cold and distant. It’s not your fault, I know that. None of this is your fault. It’s just sometimes, lingering resentment and tension get the best of me. And there’s a small part of me that thinks how much easier it would be just to hate you, snigger behind your back, play the role of the bitchy ex-wife who can’t stand to be in the room with their ex and his new girlfriend. But that’s the easy way out. That’s weakness. That’s refusing to admit this whole situation makes my stomach churn. That’s no good for anyone, especially not my son. I want to show him through my example that when you’re faced with two choices, selecting compassion and love over hatred and anger is always the right path to take.
I'd like to borrow just a few minutes of your time to try and explain how it feels to be me. Not as a means to illicit any sympathy, but perhaps with some understanding on both parts, we can begin to try and understand one another, and work together, in a bid to reach some kind of civility.
You see, the future you're blissfully piecing together with my son’s father isn’t too dissimilar to the one I had in my head once upon a time too. That’s why, occasionally, it’ll be hard to see you stand in the place I once stood. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s me. I’m not sure when it will get easier to watch you step into my shoes every second weekend. You were never supposed to exist. When I envisioned my perfect little family, you weren’t in the picture. There was never consideration another woman will one day be there to help raise my son.
From the day my ex and I broke up, I dreaded your presence. I knew you were coming. I just didn’t know when. It was too hard to simultaneously deal with a broken heart and the fact I would have to share my son with someone else, so I relegated you to the back of my mind and told myself I’d deal with it another day. And now, that day is here. It’s not any easier than I thought it would be. Initially, I probably appeared pretty cynical when I found out you were in the picture. I’ve seen my fair share of women swan into my son’s life and waltz out the same door just as quickly. But, not you, you’re here to stay, and you’re in love with the man I share a son with. It takes a great deal of patience and understanding to be a step-parent. I accept your role in this dynamic is pretty tricky. I mean, no one dreams of becoming a step mum. It’s a thankless task.
Despite all of this, the last thing I want is to be bitter, to be that woman who blames the new girlfriend for her ex’s mistakes. So while sometimes it might seem like I don’t like you. Please forgive me. I won’t always practice what I preach. But please know that it’s hard for me to know how to act, and every now and then, the mask I portray to my son and to the world that everything’s okay will sometimes slip. That’s why it’s important we set some boundaries and get a few things out in the open to avoid any drama down the track.
1. I’m here to stay. Yep, for at least the next 18, 25, 30 years… longer. When my son gets married, it’ll be us in the wedding photos standing proudly by his side. So, in the interest of ensuring my son grows up in a loving, nurturing environment, the sooner you accept this fact, the sooner we can all carry on and accept one another’s presence.
2. Don’t worry, I don’t want him back. I’m not out to lure him away. We didn’t work. That’s okay. We’ve both moved on. But please don’t get jealous and weird if you see us texting one another about funny stories about Ollie, or sharing pictures or videos, or even FaceTiming our son if we’re away. It’s taken a really long time for us to be this amicable. Communicating openly is essential for our son's wellbeing. We're providing him with a solid and stable example of co-parenting. It’s not about you, but that’s okay. You don’t have to take on the responsibility as my ex doesn’t need you to love our son like you’re his mum, he has me for that. Which brings me to my next point..
3. I’ll always be his mum. Full. Stop. I need you to respect this. The only times you’ll see me transform into Psycho Ex is if you cross that line. I want more than anything for you to treat my son with love and kindness, and welcome him into your home, but please tread that line carefully or the sake of this co-parenting triangle.
4. You and I are not friends and it's unlikely we ever will be. That’s fine. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of girlfriends, as do I, so let’s just do our best to respect who we are in one another’s life, and not try and push it any more than we need to.
5. My son is my world. My life. A piece of my soul. Please, take care of him. You’re so lucky to play a role in his life, so from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely hope whenever he is with you and his dad, he feels whole, loved, accepted. That he never wonders “why me” when he sees other conventional families. That he feels the same amount of love when he's with me as when he is with you guys. Sure, we don’t need to be friends, but we need to be allies in this complex co-parenting labyrinth we’ve found ourselves in.