The Princess Gene

5 Jul

A recent guest post on Café Smom  by Jessica (Sassy Single Mamma) stimulated a lot of discussion in the BioMom and StepMom community.  The 23-year old single mother of two posted a list of 12 things that “a Smom should do/be”.  The one that everyone was talking about was #12:

12) You are his wife, but I am the mother of his children. I’m not saying I’m better then [sic] you! I’m saying he has a responsibility to take care of his kids, and part of that is making sure his kids [sic] mother is okay! So when he says I got to drop my car off at___ because hers broke down and needs to get to work… Don’t complain! Realize its [sic] for the good of the kids.

The responses ranged from an agreement to a suggestion to program AAA into her cell phone.  My response, to all women, not just specifically Jessica, was this:

#12 doesn’t fly. I’m with Ellie: program AAA into your phone. And while you’re at it, learn how to use a screwdriver and a hammer, learn how to pump your own gas, hang your own blinds, install a car seat properly, start the lawn mower and change a light bulb. Part of being a single mom (and a woman) is modeling to your children (especially your daughters) what a self-sufficient independent woman looks like. We don’t need a prince on a white horse to rescue us because we have it under control!!!

I remember the days when my husband first left.  The lawn needed to be mowed and I couldn’t muster up enough strength to get the lawn mower started because I had shrunk to skeletal-like proportions on the “divorce diet” (all stress, no food).  I was standing in the front yard in tears when my neighbor came over and asked if I needed help.  Completely defeated, I said yes.  Once he got it started, he offered to mow the yard for me, but I protested.  Damn it, I was going to mow the lawn ON MY OWN.  And I did.  It was the proudest moment I had experienced in months. 

With my ex-husband gone, I knew that I had to get familiar with basic home and car repairs or at the very least, find someone to tutor me should I need help.  I made a vow never to call my ex to ask for help with anything.  The one time I did break down and call (my car wouldn’t start in the McDonald’s parking lot) he said, “What do you want me to do about it?  Figure it out yourself.”  Click.  I called AAA and never looked back.

Part of being a woman is modeling self-sufficiency to our children, especially our daughters.  Too many women rely on men to rescue them and in turn, pass on “The Princess Gene” to their otherwise capable daughters.  You know the gene I’m talking about:  problems arise, the princess sends out a distress signal and waits for the dashing prince on the white horse to gallop in and rescue her.  In many families the BioMom presents herself as the princess.  Sometimes the incessant requests for help from her ex-husband are out of pure helplessness or lack of resourcefulness, some are in an attempt to woo him back and still others are because of a victim’s mentality coupled with an attitude of “you owe me”.   Nevertheless, it’s my opinion that it is a single mom’s responsibility to take care of herself and her children and NOT rely on her ex-husband.  Of course there are times when we need help but constantly relying on your ex-husband to bail you out on simple tasks that you could take care of yourself doesn’t make you look like the intelligent and capable woman that you probably are.  My guess is that most ex-husbands would feel a lot better knowing that the mother of his children can pump her own gas, paint a room, use a weed wacker, check the oil in her car and hang a picture (all of which I have heard BioMoms ask their ex-husbands to do). 

What do you think about Sassy Single Mamma’s #12? 

StepMoms: does the BioMom in your life constantly ask for help from your husband?  Does he rush to her aid or does he tell her to figure it out on her own?  How does it make you feel when he helps her out on projects?   Or is the BioMom in your life totally self-sufficient with an “I can do it myself” attitude? 

BioMoms (married, single or in a relationship): do you often rely on your ex-husband for help with projects that are typically “man’s work” or do you have an open invitation from your ex-husband for assistance anytime, anywhere?  Do you feel that he “owes” you the help since you are the mother of his children? Or is your ex-husband the last person you’d call in a pinch? 



15 Responses to “The Princess Gene”

  1. Tosha July 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Are you kidding me??? This is the most absolutely ridiculous thing I have ever heard a woman say! My ex needs to help me, get over it? Wow…that is about all I can say about that.

    With that I must say that my husband’s ex does not and has not called for anything other than needing help with their daughter. If she did I would go through the roof and if he didn’t tell her to figure it out on her own I would!

    I was raised by a single mother who taught me to not rely on a “man” when I need something. The poor helpless “baby bird” (that’s what my mom calls it) act does not work, unless you are my aunt. I watch women doing the baby bird thing all the time and it disgusts me, they give the rest of us women a bad name. We are capable, we are smart, we are strong and we do NOT need a man to do stuff for us, we are completely and utterly capable to take care of ourselves. My mom has made it through her 50 years not waiting on a man to take care of things, waiting on someone else to do it is guarantying that it’s not going to get done. Raising children, yes children, not just girls, to be this way is raising a generation that cannot rely on its self, given the state of our welfare system, we are already seeing this. Raising children to rely on someone else, man, woman, mother, father, etc is raising children who never have to grow up and stay in a perpetual state of adolescence. All of this reminds me of a shirt that my grandmother gave me when I was little, it said, “anything boys can do girls can do better.” I have lived my life with that attitude and you know where it got me? It got me far! I have a husband who is happy that he has a wife that can hold down the home front, he doesn’t have to worry about me or the kids when he’s at work or if, Heaven forbid, something happen to him, he knows I can take care of everything. Women who live with this notion that they “can’t do it” put undue stress on their husbands to worry about them all the time, the days of a man worrying about you 24/7 stopped or at least subsided when you moved out on your own and that man was your dad. Now there are times that I allow my husband to help me so that I do not bruise his ego, ya know letting him open a jar now and then, get something off of a top shelf, etc. but he knows I can do it. This can do attitude has gotten me far in my career, helped me excel in school, and in vast other areas of my life. In my experience I have found that most women who think they “can’t do it” usually means they can but won’t or simply do not know how. I think as women we owe it to ourselves to stand up and say I can do it all by myself, if I need help I will ask as I am not too arrogant to assume that there will not be a time in life when I need someone else’s help, and I will try to help other women around me realize how strong they are and show them their true potential.

    • BioStep July 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

      I know a few princesses that have got a great system of never having to lift a finger and honestly, it puzzles me. Why would anyone want to portray themselves as totally helpless? The BM of a friend, at one point, had her boyfriend, brother, father, AND ex-husband all working on different projects around the yard and house for her.

      My DH is like yours. He prefers an ass-kicking, get-it-done woman rather than a damsel in constant distress.

      And as far as jar opening goes—Pampered Chef has an awesome jar opener. I never have to ask DH! 😉

  2. PJ MariaPatricia Juliano(-Panther) July 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    This is a problem that became an issue with my husband and I and ultimately was a factor in our household separation (long story-but we are back together again-but still two households) ours was a combined 1-minus of the Brady bunch it was absolute chaos – she has to work early so he needed to pick up the children, or she was working a graveyard shift and need to sleep so she can’t pick up her daughter from gym practice 10 minutes away even though she is awake.

    I, myself am a single Mom who’s bio-dad of my boyz never having to be relied upon for anything at all. His ex-wife seeming to constantly be shoving everything off on everyone including me-even transfer her children Tommy school district at the the time when the households were still combined – I became the taxi service, tutor, maid. Which built up a lot of resentments.

    Now that the household are split – I can honestly say that I don’t miss the call that was expected to be catered to. I know that he does it out of guilt and what considers to be poor parenting skills on her part.

    The one thing that I have realized tho – I’d even with our break/up & splitting of households is that I did not rely on him for anything – I do now for a few things that are non-essential – I am a self-sufficient woman. Which does not sound like much in my case, but it was when you realize that in since 2005 I have been diagnosed with probable MS and am permanently disabled.

    Parenting styles can vary especially from household to household seeming like exact opposite of the “Ex’s” – and this is where you and your significant other can come to disagreements about.
    As for myself, the one benefit that I realize that bring a more independent woman is that I have imparted my independence to my sons – and even my husband will admit this is that my 2 boys are much more self-sufficient, confident problem Solvers than his three children who many times look for someone to solve their problems for them. There is a a lack if initiative and self confidence in the children’s approach to life in general.
    Much can be said about dependence on an ex- right, wrong or indifferent. I do know that those kids do need their Dad to offset – the other parents behavior … but self-suffientcy is something that is best taught by example.

    • BioStep July 6, 2010 at 11:47 am #

      PJ, even with your disability, you still kick butt every day! You are a take charge Mama and your boys are lucky to have you!

  3. Carol July 6, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    The only thing I ever asked my ex for help with was diapers & formula when the kids were babies… I would have never asked for anything else from him.

    My husband’s ex doesn’t ask for anything anymore because I put my foot down… while she was living in another man’s home with my SD’s the clutch went out in her car… this other guy (the one she thought was so great that she HAD to leave my hubby for) couldn’t be bothered to fix it, so my hubby ran over to fix it so she’d have a car to transport my SD’s around in… in the mean time, she drove other guys car… yeah.

    I was a sinlge mom for 8 years before hubby & I got together… when my car didn’t work, we took the bus. And it never did us any harm… not to m ention all the other things I learned how to do on my own.

    Unfortunately, the BM has now taught both my SD’s to have this pitiful, poor me, the world owes me everything attitude and my inlaws buy into it & cater to the demands of BM & SD’s and to hell with us & and our wishes in the matter…

    • BioStep July 6, 2010 at 11:47 am #

      I think that asking for help with formula and diapers is completely reasonable!

      I don’t like the “poor pitiful me” act anymore than I like “you left us” guilt trip or the “you owe me” attitude. I used every single one of those “power plays” in the early stages of our separation and divorce and in the end, it made me feel both incapable and manipulative. In some ways, I think those are natural responses from a women who get blindsided by a divorce. It’s when those behaviors continue months or even years after a divorce is final that I think it really becomes an issue, especially when BM has a boyfriend (or in some cases a multitude of BFs) that are ready, willing and able to help out.

  4. Jenner July 7, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Finally delurking, first time poster here. I read the original post and was quite amazed at the nerve of the poster. I’m not quite a step-mom, but I live with my boyfriend of two years and his young child. We still have dealings with the ex and even though she perpetually claims the victim role, she usually doesn’t make any claims on his time and he doesn’t give in. There was the time when she asked him for money for her cell phone bill even though she’s been living with another guy for almost a year.

    I don’t understand why women are happy to take on that position. I guess I was lucky my mother and father raised me right to be independent from the start.

    • BioStep July 7, 2010 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks for posting and joining the conversation! First of all, you ARE a stepmom if you’ve been living with your BF for two years and caring for his child. Marriage doesn’t make you a stepmom. I’ve got a few posts on that issue because I’m not married either!

      The author of the original post was surprised at the feedback and has now said on her blog in a roundabout way that the post didn’t really express what she meant to say. I’m not sure it was her nerve so much as it is her inexperience as a mom and as a writer. Regardless, it gave the community a topic to discuss.

  5. BioStep July 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Prior to getting remarried, I asked my ex for help more than a few times. Our divorce was not nasty. We made a commitment to each other to place our children first. Did I call him over to change a light bulb? No. But did I ask him to come over and help when the roof started to leak? Yes. Did I call him when I had a flat tire? No. But when the car broke down in 104 degree heat and I had our 3 young children in the car stranded, he was my first call.

    He re-married first. I get along very well with his wife and if I needed him prior to my getting remarried, I would ask her permission. “Do you mind if J stops by after work and helps me Natasha’s school project?” She was always welcome to come with him and on more than one occasion, she did. When my ex was out of town and she had an emergency, my new husband went over to help her.

    I would never dream of asking my ex to come over and fix the thermostat. But our children and the children that have come to the family because of new marriages kinda like have 4 parents that all get along and respect each other. I think my boys benefited from seeing their father still be a gentleman even though we were no longer married. And I think my daughter has benefited from seeing two women get along without all the drama of a lifetime weekend movie. Just because you are no longer in love doesn’t mean you have to hate each other.

    However I do agree that #12 was very over bearing.

    • BioStep July 8, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

      BioStep, thanks for sharing your story. I think the way that you’ve approached asking for help from your ex-husband is really healthy. What I love is this: “I get along very well with his wife and if I needed him prior to my getting remarried, I WOULD ASK HER PERMISSION” (emphasis added). There are so many biomoms that don’t care that their ex-husband has a new wife and possibly new step and biological children and feel as though he is should be “on call” 24/7 to take care of whatever she needs.

      “Overbearing” is a great way to describe #12.

      What the author of the post doesn’t take into account is that the “I’m the mother of his children” line doesn’t work when the ex-husband has a “mine, yours and ours” family.

      Congratulations on having a a great co-parenting situation and a good relationship with your ex-husband’s new wife. That’s something that many of us long for…

      • Tosha July 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

        “Congratulations on having a a great co-parenting situation and a good relationship with your ex-husband’s new wife. That’s something that many of us long for…”

        It was something that I had and since around April of this year it has been lost, not by choice. I’m not really sure what happened, but it was BM’s choice so…whatever I guess. Good luck and it does sound like you have a great situation. (oh how I miss mine)

  6. BioStep July 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Deesha Philyaw from CoParenting 101 wrote a great post about #12. It’s a conversation between her and her husband’s ex-wife Sherry.

  7. BioStep of 8 July 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Thanks BioStep (I din’t mean to steal your name so I changed mine)

    I think how we developed our relationship in the first place helped us have a good relationship throughtout the years

    When my kids informed me that their Dad was getting re-married. I was a *little* overbearing in demanding that I meet her. I should say insisted, not demanded. I just wanted to make sure that my kids were in good hands. I trusted him to an extent, but I needed reassurance.

    I invited her over to my house and cooked her lunch and shared with her my goals for my children and the expectations I have regarding my ex and his relationship with me and the kids. I kinda phrased it that I will always be IN his life, but I don’t OWN his life 😉

    I told her that she may get a frantic 3 am call, but I would keep those to an absolute minimum. And she was welcome to call me anytime about anything except issues between the two of them. As close as I am to my ex. getting in the middle of their problems, should they have any, was very unappealing to me.

    I told her I had 4 conditions:
    1. To please try to love my children as she loves her own. In return, I promised to make my children as lovable as possible.

    2. If I do something that she doesn’t approve of. Please talk to me. Don’t bad mouth me in front of the children and don’t put J in the middle of it. I don’t want him to feel torn. But let’s be women about it and talk it out. 9-10 times it’s just gonna be a misunderstanding.

    3. if she feels that I’m trustworthy enough, to let her children spend time at my house with my kids. We’re all in this together and they can’t just be siblings on “dad days” . Besides she gets a break and my kids won’t drive me crazy with “I’m bored!” I will treat her children no different than my own except for disciplining, which I will defer to her unless something urgent arises in which they will get a timeout (we call it quarantine :)) until I can reach her.

    4. Let’s support each other. Not as old wife and new wife, but as 2 women trying to raise productive human beings. Husbands come and go, but our kids are our kids. Let’s help one another as best as we can.

    We’re not always perfect, but we try to do the best that we can and respect each others roles.
    We’re going to take it to the next level In August. ALL the children have indicated that they don’t want to go on separate vacations this year. They want us all together.
    EEK! The Jones-Mayfair-Brighton clan is headed to Disneyworld. Florida may never be the same.

    • BioStep July 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

      Wow, wow, WOW! I really like your list. I especially like:

      “I will try to make my children as lovable as possible.” So many moms poison their children with their own hate for the stepmom from “She stoled your daddy away from us” to filling their heads with lies. The children are nasty to SM because of the loyalty bonds. Too many times I’ve heard SMs say that their SK’s have said, “If I like you, my mom won’t love me anymore.”

      “We’re all in this together and they can’t just be siblings on ‘dad days'”. Once again, good for you! I’ve heard from a BM who refuses to let her children refer to their dad’s new baby as their sister. They are not allowed to say the baby’s name in her house, nor are they allowed to have pictures. I think the way that you’ve approach it is very healthy.

      “Not as old wife and new wife, but as 2 women trying to raise productive human beings.” I am a firm believer in the “it takes a village” concept!

      Now….I’d love to hear your SM’s side of the story!! Fair is fair, right?? 😉 Seriously though, the fact that you’re all going to go on vacation together says that you’ve worked long and hard on this relationship. So, so happy for you! And, as I’ve said, this is something that so many of us long for!!!

      • ladyjustine July 15, 2010 at 10:28 am #

        Biomom of 8… how I wish you were the real mum of my almost-step-brood. You’re so right: we’re the grown-ups and we should behave like grown-ups!

        And Biomom blog-lady: Fab blog. First time I’ve stopped by and I’m so glad to find another person who doesn’t like the ‘Princess’ girls. I’d rather poke my eye out with a screwdriver than ask a man for help. They make my blood boil!!

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