One of the most difficult things for a mother to get used to is sharing their children between two households and giving up control. When going through a divorce this can be one of the greatest challenges. It never get becomes perfect, to be honest, but it does get easier. It takes patience, time, therapy or the support of good friendships, and much self-control. The later point is both the most difficult and the most important for the bio-mom to keep. Everyone who plays a supportive role in the bio-mom’s life must understand the amount of pressure and turmoil going on in her life, her mind, and her soul during her divorce.
Even a few years after a divorce it can still be tough sharing your children, especially when another mom is involved. I assure it is not always about the former relationship between the ex and bio-mom, although sometimes it is. I will gladly admit I was jealous of my ex and his girlfriend at first, who is now his wife. She is 14 years younger than me. How could I not have been jealous at first? But the point is, I was careful not to allow my own feelings to cloud my parenting. My children did not need to hear about my adult issues. The truth was once I got over the initial green-eyed monster, the only thing remaining behind was fear. I was terrified of losing my children and of being replaced by another woman in my daughter’s lives. I know it sounds ridiculous. In my rational mind I knew there was plenty of love in both of my daughter’s hearts for all of us, and that I had no room to place judgment upon anyone. But I am only human.
One of the other things going through my mind at that time was the constant worry about my children. I worried when they were with me that I wasn’t enough for them. At first they seemed to have more fun at their dad’s house, and at the time I could not compete. When they were at their dad’s house, I worried about my youngest daughter’s anxiety level. I worried about what they were eating, what time they went to bed, and whether or not they were having bad dreams.
It wasn’t a lack of trust in my ex-husband or Molly as individuals, it was the feeling all mothers have deep down that no one can better care for their children than us. We all have this feeling inside from the moment we feel that life growing inside of us and it intensifies when we watch them draw their first breath. As we watch them grow, guiding them in life to make healthy choices, we truly only want the best for our babies. When someone else walks into the picture, especially someone without prior experience with their own children, it is very hard for a mom to relinquish control over her child to that person–a virtual stranger. I know, it is not fair for her to judge this other woman, she doesn’t even know her. She has no idea of her background, what type of experience with children she may have from taking care of siblings or babysitting, right? This is why I refrained from acting on my feelings. My daughters were and are my most precious treasures in life. I am so proud to be called their mother. In order to live up to that title I feel I must always act with dignity and respect. I have to be a living example of integrity for them to look up to. Girls especially learn how to interact with other women from their mothers. It is possible to have all of those feelings–to live with them, work through them, without taking them out on the other person or the children.
I also know it is completely unfair to say I am more of a mother than another mother just because I am the one who gave birth to my children. I understand it is not blood that makes a parent what they are. It takes constant commitment, patience, love, humor, self-sacrifice, self-degradation, more commitment, compromise, more patience, more humor, more compromise, and even more patience. Step-parents have this covered! I recognize step-parents put in all of the work and get little of the recognition or perks of the traditional parental roles. It’s also tough being a bio-parent and giving up control because you NEVER stop worrying.
I encourage both sides to try to empathize with one another. Try to separate yourself from the emotion of the situation. Try to view the other woman as someone other than the enemy. Instead try thinking of her as another person ready and able to love your children.
Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of eleven and fifteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish is the owner and founder of Family Fusion Community. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.