Tag Archives: biomom

BM | SM | WFC?

3 Nov

Pick your battles

There’s a discussion group on Facebook that typically has lots of fireworks between BMs and SMs (the group is open to both).  I watch the heated discussions, but rarely post.  In a recent thread, an SM said she was thankful for the group and was hoping for better relations with BM.  The BM replied with the same argument that we’ve all heard:  don’t call me BM, it’s the same abbreviation as “Bowel Movement” and the term “Biological Mother” is more appropriate for women that have given up their children.

Here’s an SM publicly holding out an olive branch and the BM takes issue with an abbreviation.  And we wonder why BMs and SMs can’t get along? 

BMs that take issue with “BM” listen up, “BM” and “SM” are acronyms that are commonly used when writing on the internet.  Other acronyms include:

                                                                                                                                                                                          SD = Stepdaughter          BD=Biological Daughter

SS=Stepson                        BS=Biological Son

SK=Stepkids                       BK=Biological Kids

DH=Dear Husband           BF=Boyfriend

Sure we could write out “my husband’s ex-wife” or “the mother of my stepchildren” or use your first and last name, but  c’mon.  Pick your battles.  We all know who the mom and the stepmom is in the relationship.  “BM” and “SM” are internet/texting shorthand terms and in all honesty, are probably a lot better than what the other women would like to call you some of the time.  Furthermore, if you’re using terms like “lol”, “omw”, “cya”, “btw” or “jk”, you should probably think twice about criticizing the use of “BM” or “SM”. 

Let’s focus more on building working relationships with the BM or SM in our lives to make things easier for the children instead of taking offense over internet acronyms.  JS (just sayin’).

 Postscript (11-4-11): as the thread developed on the page, it turns out that the BM and SM are on friendly terms and the comment was meant in jest, but of course the tone was lost in writing.  Still, this is an argument that has come up time and time again, which is evidence by the very long thread debating acronyms.  As I’ve stated before, we know who gave birth to the child and we all know who the stepmother is.  Let’s do our best to raise the children and try to get along for their sake.
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“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too”

22 Sep

Is it our vindictiveness that keeps us from forming a working relationship with the "other woman"?

 

Recently I received a list of questions about stepmothers, and one particularly got my attention:    

Why is it that stepdads seem to be spared the challenges that stepmoms face?    

THAT is a very good question and one that sparked a great late night conversation between DH and me.    

Me:  Answer this question, “Why is it that stepdads seem to be spared the challenges that stepmoms face?”  For instance, the challenge that we hear most often is that the biomom hates the stepmom.    

DH:  Gender.    

Me:  That’s what I think too, especially with this issue.  Men aren’t as wicked to each other as women are.    

DH:  Women are too competitive with each other.    

Me: Yes, but men are competitive too at work and in sports, so why aren’t they competitive in family situations?  Why don’t we hear about conflict between stepdads and biodads?    

DH:  That’s true.  Men can be really competitive with other men at work or in sports, but at the end of the day, they can go out and have a beer together.  Women are…what’s the word I’m looking for?  Vindictive.  Yeah, women can be vindictive sometimes if they don’t get their way or if they don’t win.    

Me:  It’s true.  Women are hyper-competitive with each other but sometimes they can’t “leave it on the field” so to speak.  Instead they go in the locker room formulate their own “Kill Bill” list.    

DH:  Like a list of all the women they want Uma Thurman to take out?    

Me:  No, just a list of women that they despise. “The Wicked Stepmother” is usually on the top of that list.     

Ask any stepmom and she’ll tell you that one of the biggest challenges of being a stepmom is the relationship (or lack of) with the biomom.  Biodads and stepdads can meet in the driveway during pick-up and within 15 minutes, they’ve worked out a comfortable co-parenting relationship between themselves.  I’ve seen it happen in my own driveway. Once DH moved in, he made sure to approach my ex and let him know that he wasn’t here to take his place, he just wanted to support us raising our kids.  Two months later, they were sitting on the couch watching football and having a beer.     

Biomoms and stepmoms are a different story.  Put them in within 5 feet of each other and they’re sizing up the competition.  They put on their best fake smiles, exchange pleasantries, then go to their corner of the ring and morph into the Wicked Witch of the West. Remember how vindictive and spiteful she was:  “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!”     

Not to pick on biomoms, but in most cases, we’re the ones with the chips on our shoulders (see my article in the July issue of StepMom Magazine).  Next thing you know, the stepmom is at the top of your “Kill Bill” list, also known as “The List of People I Wish Would Just Fall Off the Face of the Earth”.  We’re plotting the stepmom’s demise and ways to make her life a living Hell while the biodad and stepdad are having a genuinely pleasant and friendly conversation.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Does anyone realize that the kids are watching?     

So back to DH’s point, is gender the reason why stepdads seem to escape one of the biggest challenges that stepmoms encounter?  I think it is otherwise someone would have written “No One’s the A**hole” as the companion book to “No One’s the Bitch”.  I think much of the tension and conflict between biomoms and stepmoms happens because of the way women are “wired”.  We are all territorial and protective of our children, and then there are those of us who are still working on the less savory aspects of our personalities like jealousy, insecurity and fear which tend to rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune times.  Of course there are all kinds of societal expectations of women as mothers and stepmothers, as well as their expectations of each other. But when there’s a contentious relationship between the two, nothing gets resolved.  When a stepmother and biomom spend time whipping up tornadoes and waiting for a house to fall on the other’s head, no one wins. The big losers in the war?  The kids.   If you think they don’t sense your deep-seeded hatred of the other woman, think again.  Maybe it’s time we take a lesson from the guys and learn to shake hands and play nice for the well-being of the kids.  Be a little less “Wicked Witch of the West” and a little more “Glinda the Good Witch”.  You’ve got nothing to lose by being nice but you risk quite a bit, including the respect of your children, by acting vindictively.     

So let me ask you the same question that was asked of me:  Why is it that stepdads seem to be spared the challenges that stepmoms face?  Do you think there’s a double standard as far as expectations of stepmothers and stepfathers are concerned? Do you think stepmothers face greater challenges simply because of gender or does society’s expectation of women in a stepmother role factor into the equation?    

NOTE:  This is the first installment in a series that will look at the unique challenges that stepmoms face.  Next topic: feeling like an outsider in your own home.

Confessions of a BioMom Gone Bad: Manipulating the Parenting Plan

14 Sep

The creation of a Parenting Plan is standard procedure in a divorce.   It’s meant to be used as a guide, and there can be variations if both parties agree.  But, if both parties cannot agree, they must go back to implementing the Parenting Plan.  What I’ve seen too often is BioMoms that use the Parenting Plan in a manipulative way especially with BioDads that are following the rules and are trying to “play nice”. 

I’m talking about the BioMoms that won’t allow BioDad to bring the kids back an hour past the documented drop-off time saying to the kids “We have to follow the Parenting Plan!”, but the next week will ask if he can keep them a few extra hours because she hasn’t finished running her errands yet.  Or the BioMoms that can’t possibly find 2 weeks that the kids can stay with their dad for his summer vacation time but will ask during the school year if he can take them for a week so she can go on a vacation. I even have a Twitter friend that said her stepdaughter told her that when she asked her mom if she could spend more time with her dad, her mom said, “You can’t because the Parenting Plan doesn’t allow it.”   Then when the father asked for more time with his daughter, BioMom said, “You are not entitled to any extra time.”  Huh?  What?  Entitled?  That seems like such an odd choice of words when you’re talking about your own child.

I’m tired of the BioMoms (and custodial BioDads) who only want variations in the Parenting Plan when it suits or benefits them.   For instance, BioMom asks BioDad to make changes in the schedule to accommodate her needs and BioDad agrees.  But when BioDad asks for more time, BioMom falls back on the “legalese” in the Parenting Plan and says something like “The Parenting Plan states that there can be variations when both parties agree and I don’t agree with you having extra time beyond what you’re allocated in the Parenting Plan.”  In the most ideal situation, the custodial parent should be happy to give up some time to the non-custodial parent when it’s requested, but in many situations, this is not the case. 

I’ve got some experience on this particular subject because I behaved badly as a BioMom for a few years (see “Confession of  a BioMom Gone Bad” in the July issue of StepMom Magazine) and I have been guilty of this offense myself.  It wasn’t until I met DH that I could observe what it felt like to be a non-custodial father.  DH has the same “boiler plate” custodial arrangement with his ex-wife that I have with my ex-husband:  every other weekend and one night a week.  I know how much he misses not being able to see his girls every day.  And while our house is always bustling with my two children from my first marriage and the daughter that we have together, nothing can take the place of the two daughters that are only with us every other weekend.  If his weekends fall the right way on the calendar, he may get to see them 6 full days out of the month (plus a day if you add up the week day visits).  For any parent that wants to be involved with their children, that doesn’t seem like enough.

That’s when I decided to start acting like a rational human being instead of a vindictive bitch.  When my ex-husband started stepping on my last nerve and I started to plot how I could get away with not inviting him to our daughter’s concert or making sure the kids had activities scheduled on his weekend, I’d look at DH and realize what a jerk I was being. I was hurting my kids more than anyone else. 

I had a few choices: 

1.  I could be completely inflexible with my schedule to screw him out of time and continue to refuse requests for extra visitation;

2.  I could spend thousands of dollars and take him back to court to have the plan revised;

3.  I could do what felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do—BE REASONABLE. 

Despite my opinion of him at times, he’s still half of their DNA.  He divorced me, not the kids, and he should be able to have extra time beyond what the Parenting Plan states if he wants it.  It was time for “both parties to agree”, but more importantly, it was time for me to get over myself.  Maybe it’s time for you to do that too. 

If you’re a BioStep, it may have taken the BioMom in your life to make you realize how you’ve been manipulating your Parenting Plan to suit your needs and ignore his.  If you’re a BioMom, it may be hard to let go of the one thing in your life you know will bring your ex-husband to his knees.  Bottom line is, start working for the good of your children and not for your own selfish agenda.  Regardless what your issues might be, your ex-husband (no matter how big of a dirtbag you think he is for leaving you or how much you despise his new wife) is still the father of your children, and your children deserve to have a relationship with him. Work your Parenting Plan to your children’s advantage, not yours.  A healthy co-parenting relationship is what we all want to model to our children, right? 

Here’s an idea:  the next time he asks for extra time, give it to him and use that time alone to do some self care.  Take the time to do some reflection and find the root of your anger and hostility and free yourself from it.  You may be able to do it on your own or you may need a therapist’s help.  Figure out what you’re doing to contribute to the problem, own it and then fix it.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you’re willing to do the work. 

Are you a BioMom who worked your Parenting Plan to your advantage and his disadvantage?  What made you stop?  Or are you a BioMom who is willing to admit that you still like using the Parenting Plan as a weapon?  Would you consider stopping for the good of your children even though you feel like you’re giving up control?

For healthy co-parenting support, go to Co-Parenting 101.  They’ll be  featured in a segment on co-parenting after divorce on CBS News’s The Early Show on Wednesday, September 15th at 8:09 AM EST.  Please tune in!