How my daughter's Step-Mom made me a better Mother
I know there are many pieces out there about mothers and step-mothers at war. This, to me, seems to be one of the most selfish things either of the children's parents (yes, step-parent IS a parent) can do.
The children have already seen far too much unnecessary heartache with the divorce of their parents. No matter how young the child was, or how long ago the divorce took place, believe me, the kids still feel the effects long term. Every holiday that is spent with just one of their parents, every weekend handover, every time they have to explain to friends that they are busy when a particular event is on because they are spending the weekend with the non custodial parent, their little hearts feel it. So why would anyone want to create unnecessary conflict for the kids to be wedged in the middle of?
This woman below has taught me a lot about being a step-mom. Before I go any further let me address a few things you might be thinking right now. 1) sure you have a great relationship with her, but you should meet MY ex's new partner. 2) I am the mother, I shouldn't have to share my role with anyone 3) The kids don't need her, they have me....
My daughters step mother is in fact the woman that my ex-husband was having an affair with while we were in marriage counselling trying to save our marriage (she was not aware that this was the case at the time). Logically, I should resent her..... I don't! Why? Because she is a wonderful person and, more importantly, she has been wonderful to my daughter.
Best step mother I could have ever wished for my daughter, This is Kathryn with her Daughter.
Kathryn went above and beyond to ensure that my daughter was loved and cared for while in her home. She read stories to her at night, played dress up, taught my baby how to cook and amazingly, she spoke about me often in my absence and build a bridge between my daughter and I. HER attitude towards me is what made my daughter feel safe in speaking about her love for me, and prevented her from feeling as though she had to show loyalty to one side of her family versus another. This resulted in my child being free to love all the people in her life. Me, her dad and her step mum and dad. She knew that she had 4 parents and that we all loved her. Why did Kathryn, or rather how did Kathryn show this grace? Shouldn't she feel threatened given I was the EX. Why like a lot of step mothers didn't she have 'something to prove'?
Kathryn made a choice. She chose to be to my daughter, what she would want a step mom to be to her child. She sent me mothers day cards and we could talk openly over the phone about my baby's progress. We worked together on issues that came up, because lets face it, DAD's play a different role to Moms. While it was between me and my childs Dad as to what decisions were made regarding our childs care and upbringing, it would be naive to think that our partners who we were forming a life with, and whom would be affected by any decisions, woudn't have a say. Some parents don't feel comfortable talking to the step parent about the big issues, and prefer to just talk to the ex. Either way issues are addressed, I was well aware that any decisions that my ex would make and consult me on, would first be talked over with his partner. Whether I liked it or not, either directly or indirectly, this woman was going to be contributing to the decision making. I could do it with her, or I could allow her to do it from behind the scene through my ex. Thank-fully we were able to talk. We both loved my child and wanted what was best for her....and this meant that most of the time we could work well together, infact, she was often my Ally when my ex was being unreasonable. She was my daughters step mother, and she became one of my best friends.
As wonderful as Kathryn is, I cannot give all the credit to our family functioning. I had a part to play too. I could have refused to talk with her. My ex was never good at being organised and this would have meant a lot of quarreling between the two of us. I chose to talk with Kathryn and allow her to work with me on what was planned for my child, instead of having massive arguments with my ex. This meant that instead of fighting around the my daughter and conflict, she was watching two people who loved them very much, work together for their benefit. It also meant that my baby was not able to play one against the other. What happened in one home, happened in the other. If there were issues raised we could talk directly and not get a biast story from a little girl trying to be an opportunist.
Kathryn taught me that being a Mom and a step-mom is about getting past our own insecurities and hurt. How we feel towards step parents should come second to what is best for the child. Being a parent is about putting your children first. Lets face it, if Kathryn was going to be my daughters step mother there was no use in me pretending she didn't exist, ESPECIALLY when she would be providing care for my child. It took courage for Kathryn to take the high road and stretch out the olive branch for the sake of my daughter. It took courage for me to accept the olive branch... but how could I not? the fact that she was willing to extend a hand of friendship showed me that she did love my daughter and have her best interests at heart.
For those who are scared of being replaced... a child's real mother can never be replaced, so long as they are being just that... a MOTHER. Mother's put their children first. They avoid conflict and what their children to grow into stable, emotionally reliable adults. This means creating a family for them... one that includes the step parent!