Here’s a news flash: I don’t wanna be friends.

2 Mar

Have you ever written a letter to the biomom?

I admire biomoms and stepmoms that have a good relationship.  I am in awe of biomoms and stepmoms that continue to hold out the olive branch to the other hostile party.  I dream of a day when biomoms and stepmoms can have relationships like the one of the Patron Saints of Blended Family Harmony,

Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carol Marine. But what if you have no desire to be friends?  This is a letter that so many stepmoms have composed in their heads a million times, but never sent.  It’s a compilation of thoughts, feelings and experiences of hundreds of stepmoms involved in on-line support groups.  Any similarity to a real-life relationship between a biomom and a stepmom is purely coincidental. 

To the mother of my stepchildren:

It’s been (insert number) years since DH and I have been together. Don’t you think it’s time to put down the AK-47 you’ve been aiming at my head?  Think about it, I’m not to blame for the demise of your marriage,  so why all the hatred? 

I’ve put up with harassing emails/phone calls, drive-bys, name-calling and constant litigation.  You’ve spread outrageous rumors about me to your friends and my in-laws.  You’ve told your children to disrespect me and have filled their heads with lies about me and about my relationship with their father.  You’ve called Child Protective Services with false allegations.  You’ve even gone so far as to illegally obtain my medical records.  I just want to know why?  Because I love your ex-husband?  Because I love your children?  You must find me really threatening.  I just can’t figure out why.  I’m married to a man who you clearly don’t want anymore and I have no intention of taking your place as Mom.  Why all the fuss?

I have sat by quietly and ignored the drama and the firestorm you leave in your wake.  I’ve kept my shut when you’ve called me names in front of the kids.  I’ve sat in the back of the auditorium during every one of the kids’ performances just so you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.  I’ve chosen not to go to soccer games because you told DH, “She just stresses me out too much”. I never said a word when you said vile things about my new baby (who just happens to be the half-sibling of your children).  And I have never said anything negative about you to your children.  In fact, I’ve always told them what a great job you do as a mom.

So, the damage is done.  Are you happy now? 

Here’s a newsflash for you:  I don’t want to be friends.  I don’t want to go to coffee or lunch with you.  I don’t want to swap books, trade recipes or tell you my secret ingredient for stain removal. In a perfect world, all moms and stepmoms have a friendly relationship, but after (insert number here) years, it’s obvious that isn’t going to happen between us right now.  So here’s what I’m proposing:  a working relationship.  By “working relationship” I mean a relationship in which we are civilly communicating about the kids:  “Susie’s got a bad cough. You might want to put a humidifier in the room”, “Johnny needs a shower before he comes back home”, or “Can you make sure Tommy gets his homework done this weekend?”  Simple things that make transitions easy and seamless for the kids.  Why?  Because if you think that DH is the one that pays attention to the finer details of caring for a child, you’re wrong.  Some stepmoms have given up and “stepped back”, leaving all the work to their DH.  So if your children come home without a shower, without having brushed their teeth all weekend, or without homework completed, you’ll know I’ve left it all to their dad since your bad-mouthing of me has completely undermined my ability to get your children to cooperate with any request I may have pertaining to personal hygiene or schoolwork.  

A working relationship would also mean one in which we are cordial to each other at events in which we are both at attendance.  DH and I are going to stop sitting in the back to “keep the peace”.  Let’s say hi and engage in some small talk if necessary without gagging.  It will put the kids at ease.  Afterall, they are the priority, not us.  Somehow I think we forgot that along the way.

It also means that you will stop badmouthing me…to everyone.  You don’t have to like me, but be a lady and keep your opinions to yourself.  I’ll do the same.

Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?  For years I’ve heard you talk about teaching your children Christian values, but haven’t seen them in action, especially when it comes to me.  You give a total stranger more common courtesy than you give me and I care for your children every other weekend.  What if DH decided to turn the children against your boyfriend/fiancé/husband?  You wouldn’t tolerate that would you?  And what if your stepchildrens’ mother did the same thing to you that you’re doing to me?  You’d be outraged wouldn’t you? 

For the kids’ sake, please stop treating me with such contempt.  It takes a lot of energy for someone to despise me as much as you do, especially when I’ve done nothing to deserve it.  Your life may not have turned out how you wanted, but it’s time to deal with reality of our situations.  Let’s both act like adults for the sake of the children.

Sincerely,

The Stepmother

If you were writing this letter, is there anything you would add?  Do you think it’s imperative that the SM and BM have a friendly relationship or will a “working” relationship suffice? 

For real letters written by real people, check out: The Stepfamily Letter Project.  It’s powerful stuff.   I encourage you to submit your own letter.  At the very least, it’s cathartic.

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20 Responses to “Here’s a news flash: I don’t wanna be friends.”

  1. Ellen Kimball March 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Wonderful letter! I would willingly send a version of it to my children’s stepmother, who is now a widow. She and my ex-husband had primary custody of two children from ages eleven and ten to the year each of them turned eighteen. The husband we both wed at different times in our lives is now deceased. I had a medical problem that put me in the hospital in 1980 and needed time to recover. We are scheduled to attend a July 3, 2011 religious ceremony for our eldest grandchild, now thirteen. Thanks for your interesting blog. Cordially, Ellen Kimball

  2. Maxine March 3, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    What a refreshingly honest article, I related to every single word as a Stepmother – having a “friendly” relationship with the BM in my life is just not ever going to happen for a number of reasons. Thank you for being so honest, I could not read “No One’s The Bitch” – I gave up at chapter three, I knew it would never apply to my situation, but hats off to those who do get there.

    • BioStep March 3, 2011 at 8:56 am #

      Trying to read “No One’s the Bitch” can be highly frustrating if you know it’s never going to apply to your situation. However, if you stick with it, there are some good opportunities for self-reflection. You’ll definitely learn a few things about yourself, even if you never have a relationship with BM. Give it another try!

  3. Peggy Nolan March 3, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    A friendly relationship isn’t required or in the cards for many moms/stepmoms. Like Jennifer and Carol, I also have a very good “friendly” relationship with my husband’s ex. It’s rare but not impossible – and it’s not for everyone out there. As both a mom and a stepmom, I do wish more moms would put down their AK-47’s and get on with living their own best life.

    Great article!
    Peggy

    • BioStep March 3, 2011 at 9:06 am #

      Thanks Peggy! I’m always honored when you read my blog and comment.

      Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there’s pressure in the stepmom community to “get along” with the biomom, and major frustration among the ranks bcs so many of us know it’s never going to happen OR if we have no interest in having a friendly relationship we are afraid of saying it out loud for fear of criticism.

  4. Stepmom Central March 3, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Love love this article!
    For me, reading NOTB was also frustrating but I also saw some things within myself.

    Everything you just wrote is exactly how I feel, except I have to deal with it on a custodial stepmom level, so no stepping back from dealing with the stepkids for me.

  5. ChapmansRus March 3, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    As both a stepmom & a biomom I know both sides. I’ve been the biomom who went out of the way to make sure smooth transistions happened. Made sure the stepmom & I could talk & share info about the kids.. When she had two kiddos, that are my kiddos’ half sibligs, I made sure I made a big deal about my kids having a new little sister & a new little brother.. Even after the stepmom & my ex split, I maintained that relationship with the stepmom because of the kids…

    So it’s really frustrating to me to be the stepmom trying to bend over backwards to make things work & having all the negativity from the biomom & now my inlaws as well, at the expence of the kids & the relationship they need with their dad… it’s exhausting..

    Thanks for your post… definitely a letter I’ve thought of writing… The question becomes, do I write it?

    • BioStep March 3, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      My suggestion would be to write it and hold on to it or post it to the Stepfamily Letter Project. At the very least, you’ve got your thoughts and feelings on paper. Then the real question becomes, do you send it???

      • ChapmansRus March 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

        She would twist everything I wrote.. as she does now.

        I may write it.. I may not.. I do like the Stepfamily Leter Project though…

  6. Angela March 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Can I just say that I love this!? I don’t want to be her friend. She is mean and nasty. But I want to get along w/her because her stress and resentment of us is causing emotional turmoil for her son. I stay far removed from anything regarding parenting my SS for fear that he will like me and in turn tell her and be punished for it.

    Well written! Maybe writing out my thoughts will allow me to heal some of the hurt she has caused. Something to think about!

    • BioStep March 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      Isn’t it sad that so many stepmoms have backed away from caring for their stepchildren because of the fear that the child will be interrogated or be put in the middle of a loyalty war if, God forbid, the stepmom is ….NICE?

      Have you noticed that when you do something routine like washing their clothes or “nice” like serving ice cream for dessert, that you’re label a “goody two-shoes” or better yet you’re accused of trying to steal the child’s affection from the mother, YET, when you step back and do nothing at all, you’re being called “lazy” or you’re accused of being “heartless” and “uncaring”. With some BMs you just can’t win.

      One of my ex’s GFs took my daughter on a shopping spree at Claire’s for Christmas. She came home with 20 pairs of earrings! First thing that came to my mind, “Wow, that was really, really sweet.” I was genuinely pleased that my ex’s GF would take the time to find out what her favorite store was and then let her go crazy. Now, if I was a different kind of person, I could have gone off with accusations of trying to “buy her affection”, or made some comment about how the earrings were inappropriate (they weren’t), or find some other fault in it, just because I could. I’ve seen the smallest gestures towards stepchildren turn into WW3 and it makes me sad.

      • Angela March 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

        Last visit he was here SS asked what to call me, he said that he didn’t want to call me mom. I told him that he shouldn’t that he had mom and that I wasn’t trying to take her place. We had such a great visit! We played games and him and I spent lots of time just talking and joking. We all had a really good time. When he left he hugged me and told me that he loved me. 2wks after he returned to “home” his mother accused me of being abusive to him. I totally know what you’re saying on the whole “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” I totally feel like we’re living WW3 and I feel so defeated.

  7. Peggy Nolan March 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    The BEST part of NOTB is chapter 2 – “own your own crap.” That’s the biggest thing that gets in the way of moms and stepmoms getting along. Moms aren’t willing to own their piece of their failed relationship and stepmoms aren’t willing to own their martyrdom (I do everything) – there’s enough bitzching on both sides to go around the universe a few times.

    What worked for me: To be myself. I am who I am. I do because I choose to do not because “I have to” or I feel obligated to. So much of the mom/stepmom angst is built upon half-truths, assumptions, and erroneous expectations.

    Jennifer and I talked about chapter two when she was on my radio show a few weeks ago. By far, it’s the best chapter in the book (IMHO)

    xo
    Peggy

    • BioStep March 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

      Amen! It’s hard to look in the mirror. I know as a stepmom, I had to get the chip off my shoulder and as a biomom I had to put my ego in check. Chapter 2 is the chapter with the most writing and notes in the margin 😉

  8. Talia March 4, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I must say, I have absolutely no desire (read none, zero) to befriend my husband’s ex. She is five shades of crazy and honestly, I want nothing to do with her. She has poisoned her children against me and my husband, yet she wants all the perks that we can offer. Thanks, no. I raised my girls and always told them, “You are only as good as the company you keep, so keep good company.” I am very proud that my daughters are in college on the Dean’s list and actively engaged in life. Friends with the ex…thank you, NO!

  9. Erin March 4, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Amen to owning your crap!

    None of us are perfect. Despite all of our best efforts to do right by our partners and kids in our lives, sometimes things just don’t gel and we’re left holding on to our hearts wondering: what happened?

    I get along with my stepkids’ mom, but we’ve had our moments. I think she realizes I can be a positive influence in her kids’ lives and appreciates that. I give her a lot of credit for welcoming me into the family like that. I feel tremendously lucky.

  10. Kris March 27, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I did write a letter to my husband’s ex five or six years ago.

    Though I don’t even remember what all I said, I know I communicated that I would never try to take her place and that I would look out for and care for her child. I ended by asking for a photo of her for her son’s room. She never acknowledged the letter but it seemed that she started to slowly warm up to me afterward.

  11. Closer to Lucy April 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    As the product of an amazing stepmother’s hand and great relationship between my biomom and my stepmom I am still just baffled by the daggers thrown my direction by my now stepson’s biomom.

    Not gonna lie, after being slapped by my gestures of peace I don’t ever want to be her friend and sadly I am one of those that are being forced to step back…..I wonder who she thinks remembers her on Mother’s day, her birthday or Christmas, it’s not my husband that’s for sure. This year he’ll get the reminder because I haven’t the heart to get the gifts.

    Great post one that touches us all, I’m sure.

  12. OKSM April 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    As a new stepmom (2 years) it’s sad for me to say that I have dealt with almost every single thing listed. Been called names (in public and in front of ss), talked bad about (we have friends who are mutual friends), cussed at, lied about, ignored (which is actually preferable), screamed at, etc. All the while, I painstakingly sit back and refrain from saying anything. I’m sure the feeling is mutual — we do NOT have to be friends. But I do feel that your definition of a “working relationship” is essential to my ss’s wellbeing. Sadly for me, our situation has yet to develop even that far. We are still at the point of 3rd and 4th party relaying of messages. So many things are miscommunicated, lost in translation, or the info is simply too late to be useful. I have offered the olive branch time after time, only for bm to break it and slap me in the face with it. I’m at a loss right now, but trying to keep my hopes up. — So to answer the question, no, bm and sm do not “have” to be friends. But the relationship (whatever is decided upon), must be functional at least.

    • BioStep April 21, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      OKSM, the first few years are the worst, especially if you’re dealing with a BM that has an emotionally incomplete divorce. The best advice I can give you is to continue to NOT react and to continue to speak positively of BM with your SS. SS will see the difference and BM may eventually quiet down once she realizes no one wants to play in the sandbox with her.

      The tricky part is getting to a functional relationship. Some families get there because everyone puts their egos aside for to make things easier for the kids. Others can’t let the control or love of conflict go and continue to make things difficult for everyone.

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