When my daughter came home to tell me her Father, (my ex-husband), had asked his girlfriend to marry him, she was beaming. She proudly pulled out her phone to show me a picture of the bling he placed upon her left finger. Her eyes brightened while her smile splashed infinite love. Scarcely containing her excitement, she happily announced, she was going to have a new stepmother.
I don’t know how to describe the emotions I felt at that moment. There isn’t a canned response for “your ex-husband is remarrying, and there will be another woman in your children’s lives.” My gut clenched, bouts of jealousy attacked my thoughts, but I wasn’t necessarily upset about the marriage. It wasn’t because my ex-husband had found another woman to spend the rest of his life with or that she was younger and more beautiful than I. I was genuinely delighted he had found somebody to make him happy. He, as much as anyone, deserves to fall in love.
It was the word “stepmom” that tore at my heartstrings.
I couldn’t help but feel I was going to lose little bits of my children to the new woman, stepmom, in their life.
The fear of losing pieces of my daughter concerned me the most.
The bond her soon-to-be-stepmother and she had already made, was written all over her face. She was obviously in love with the idea of this woman being in her life. There is no instance in my life that would have me take joy from my child, no matter how hard the situation may be for myself. Consequently, I did what any loving mother would do in my circumstance. I feigned enthusiasm. Held back tears, sat with her on the couch like best friends would, and pleaded to hear every last detail of the engagement.
I assumed this day would come. My ex-husband would meet a woman, fall in love, and my children would have another parental figure in their lives. Although no amount of preparation equipped me for the rapture I observed in my daughter’s eyes. I felt the excitement she felt—in my bones. My heart ached. Jealousy reared its ugly head.
As I do with most of everything in my life, I took a few days to over think. While doing so, I played out the worst scenarios and imagined them monotonously.
My fear of not being the one my sweet baby comes to with her female matters had already played out months before when she had her first menstrual cycle while on vacation with her Dad. I wasn’t there to help her through one of the most important moments of her life. Her new stepmom was, and I desperately desired it to be me. I cried from hundreds of miles away while my daughter took comfort from another woman.
Another woman who had instantly become a fill in Mom.
My job as her parent and female role model felt threatened. One of the most difficult parenting moments I’ve experienced thus far. Because it was made up of selfish, jealous thoughts.
My ex and I have an open line of communication. We remained friends and do our best to raise our children with respect toward one another. However, I scarcely know the new woman in his life. In my children’s life. I have no clue if her parenting style is akin to mine. I wonder if she believes in strict parenting, or if she hates Donald Trump as much as I do. I wonder how she will help raise my children. Every. Single. Day. Although, I do know that every mother struggles to be the best Mom she can be. Including stepmoms.
Therefore as Mother’s Day approaches this year. I felt compelled to put my thoughts into words for the woman who will now be sharing my children with me, for the rest of our lives.
To My Children’s Stepmom,
Happy Mother’s Day.
You are an enormous part of my children’s life. It is clear my babies love you with all their hearts. For that, I am and will always be eternally grateful. Love is what drives me. Knowing you have brought more love into my kid’s lives warms my heart. We can never love our babes too much.
Obviously, you have a good heart, or my children wouldn’t be so eager to spend time with you. My promise to you is to do my best to share every experience we have as mothers without jealousy and bitterness. We will both have moments in which we struggle. Hopefully, we can have each other’s backs throughout the process.
I want to thank you for every moment you spend helping to parent my children. Sacrificing your time to be a part of their lives is a selfless and caring act.
Besides, you are supremely talented at the French braid, something in which I have never mastered. As much as I am jealous of your ability to braid my daughter’s hair better than I, I am also grateful she has someone to do it. Thank you, for putting a smile on her face.
Thank you for driving my son to work on the rainy days. I acknowledge the fact you work hard and are as tired as I am after a long day. Taking on the responsibility of my children, reveals you are a kind and generous person. I am thankful they will have that type influence in their lives.
Thank you for respecting my parenting style and doing your best to implement it into your new family. I know it can be tough as a Mother to accept different parenting styles. As long as we work together in the interest of our children, I am sure we will raise them to be kindhearted adults. I am excited to observe how both of us will influence wherewith my kids grow into self-aware and loving adults. The time you put into my children is something I will never be able to repay. There are no words good enough, other than my infinite gratitude.
I have come to realise there will never be too many helping hands when raising a child. Your hand in this process is as important as mine. Your time is as precious as any other Mothers on this planet. Giving your valuable time to help raise my children is the greatest gift I have ever received, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving my kids and I the gift of your time.
From me to you, Happy Mother’s Day. You may not have received the clay pots and flowers I have over the years. Or the illegible drawings and breakfast in bed. But you deserve a morning spoiled by my children because no matter how hard it is to admit, you are now another mother in their lives.
Thank you, for helping to mother my loves. You have the most precious pieces of my heart thirty percent of the time. Nevertheless, you have my respect and pure gratitude one hundred percent of the time.
Happy Mother’s Day!
(P.S. Hey, do you mind taking my kids that day? I’d like the day off.)
This piece originally appeared on New World Moms. It has been reprinted with permission.