In the car yesterday, my oldest casually mentioned, “Dad asked us to make Mother’s Day cards for his girlfriend.” (She’s lived with him and my kids ever since he left me.)
“Okay,” I repeated. “Okay.” I recovered and added, “So how do you feel about that?”
My daughter said, “Well, it’s kind of weird, but I guess it’s okay.”
(Funny, that’s exactly how I feel about it.)
I agreed and told her, “You should. You don’t have to write ‘Mom,’ but you can express your gratitude for the care she gives you.” She agreed and the conversation turned to her new crush.
Every now and then, my oldest does that “gut check” with me to gauge my response on tough issues. She usually does it in the car in front of her siblings so she knows I won’t freak out. I usually don’t (see my prior blog on grace for more on how I deal with all of that), but it’s telling and powerful to see how much influence I have on her decisions. If I demanded that no-such-Mother’s-Day-cards be made, she would have followed suit. But that demand would not serve the best interest of my kids, so yes, it is okay.
Divorce makes even Mother’s and Father’s Day awkward. That sucks. But the gut-check moment in the car made me realize how lucky the kids and I are that they do have another mother figure (and father figure—the handsome fiancée).
The kids, of course, don’t see it this way. Because they now have four “parents,” that’s more people telling them what to do. But it’s also another person to braid their hair or offer help with math homework, or teach a lesson in capital-gains tax (this actually happened). Does it kill me that her braids are better than mine? A little. Does it sting when they come home with cute new outfits that she can afford and I don’t buy because I’m saving for college? Yes. But I’m grateful they have tight braids and new clothes. And what would have happened if I disparaged her? My kids would feel guilty for accepting her gifts and attention. Guilt does not serve my children, I won’t do that.
I am their mother. I will not let the hurt, anger, jealousy, and resentment of a failed marriage torture any of us. That is my gift to my children everyday. Mother’s Day is no different. It is not my day; it is for everyone trying to raise strong, resilient, forgiving, loving children. I, along with my ex-husband’s girlfriend, am trying to do just that.
This week, I wish you a mother’s love (but you already have that) and the support of others who want your children to succeed.