No One’s The Bitch

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My daughter was playing with a friend a few weeks ago in our garage/converted play room and she says, “My other mom’s favorite color is green.” I almost dropped the broom that was in my hand. I heard that wrong… I had to have heard that wrong!

“Baby? Why did you call her your other mom? She is your step-mom.” (By the way, she has only carried this title for a few days at this point.)

Jo answered, “Because I have two moms now.”

My heart raced, inside I screamed “NO!!! You do not have two moms! I am your mama, you grew inside MY belly, I felt your first kicks, I kissed you first! I am your mama, I got up every night with you and sacrificed my body for 9 months to bring you to this world, and for another almost two years breast feeding. I am your mama, I slept on the floor next to your bed every night, every shower I took for 3 years was a shower slash bath so you could play and stay close to me because all you ever wanted was your mama. I am your mama, I fell in love with you, you were my first love, and I was yours.”

I didn’t say that. I walked away and cried. This new woman has been in my daughters life for about 5 months, and as far as I am concerned the title, “Mom” is earned. Not to say you have to birth children to become a mother, I have a step mom and she is one of my closest friends. I also had a somewhat absent mother. While I saw my mom on occasional weekends, she never really exhibited the “mom” role in my life. Nevertheless, she is still my mama. I refer to my step mom by her name, although I do consider her a parent. And coincidentally I am even closer to her than either of my biological mother.

I myself am a step mother, as well. My step children call me “Mom”… So you might think that I have a double standard? It took my stepchildren (my kids) about a year to start referring to me as their mom. It wasn’t something I asked or told them to do, it was organic. My husband and I are their primary care givers. Their biological mom passed away a few years before I came into the picture. For all intents and purposes, I am mom. I stay home, I help with homework, I clean, prepare dinner, read books, wipe away tears, ice boo-boos, bandage scrapes… you name it. they asked me if it was OK for them to call me mom. My biological daughter, Jo was excited to share her mama. Granted it took her about the same amount of time to become comfortable with me performing all of the maternal duties for children other than her. I know it was a hard thing for the grandparents to hear, and to get used to, but we all decided that we wanted the kids to know that we are a family, and and even though their biological mother can’t be here, I will be here. (We also do not refer to my husband as Jo’s dad, he is her step dad and she has nicknames for him.)

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Sometimes you have to do very uncomfortable things for the greater good. Hearing my daughter call her step mom her “other mom” put a few things into perspective for me. I had a lot of bitterness, and a part of me didn’t want to let go of it. Because if I let go of my bitterness, I couldn’t be angry anymore. Sometimes we hold onto our bitterness because it justifies the real feelings, the ones we don’t want to talk about. It took a long time for me to get to a healing place within myself in regards to my ex. (For an example check out my truce with daddies http://healthymama.net/?p=22) And most dads for that matter. Granted my ex and I are not BFFs, but at least I have worked through and owned MY shit. I honestly didn’t realize how threatened I would be by “The Other Woman”. My insecurities came flooding out, and I knew I had a BIG problem. My husband said, “It’s OK if you’re jealous…” Aaaannnddd I verbally ripped his head off. “Me? Jealous? I don’t get jealous! I’m not one of THOSE girls. I don’t want HER life, in fact she’s living my old life, the life I fled, wrote off, the life that scarred me.” (OK maybe it wasn’t THAT bad… in reality it just wasn’t right for me. And let’s face it… I have been through MUCH worse than an unhappy relationship. (See  http://healthymama.net/?p=38 for my cult back round and http://healthymama.net/?p=306 for physical and emotional physical trauma) I can think of a million reasons I am pissed not “jealous”.

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Luckily for me, a friend offered me a book called “No One’s The Bitch” (http://www.noonesthebitch.com/) and at this point I am desperate. I couldn’t live with these insecurities any more. I had to find some peace. It was really hard for me because I didn’t dislike Jo’s step mom… I honestly didn’t know her, I was just… Ok I’ll say it: I was jealous. Jealous that my daughter referred to her as a mom, and she seemed comfortable with it, jealous that she is living my old life, has my old friends, and probably has heard about all of my dirty laundry (and then some, knowing the vicious rumors I have heard about myself). Jealous that my baby is spending so much time with a stranger, and that my ex still wouldn’t communicate with me the way I needed. My insecurities were festering. Everyone told me not to bother with the book, that I should just “hate” the step mom because she will inevitably hate me. That she shouldn’t step on MY toes, and I have every right to be angry. I am the mom.

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But I was looking at this from a different point of view. I went to a place where I was happy and relieved that my ex found someone, that he seemed happy. My daughter obviously liked her, too. Jo has been through enough, and the last thing we need is for me to make everyone’s life miserable because I can’t handle my insecurities. I have always been very… judgmental of parents who do not put their kids first. Not to be mean, and I know judging is not OK, but I cannot respect a parent who puts their children in a dangerous situation out of selfishness or convenience. So how can I put my daughter in the middle of a territorial fight? How is that fair? It’s not like we can cut her in half! (Yes, that was a biblical reference) I had to find a way to share, a way that wasn’t going to break my heart.

So over the last few weeks I have been working through my shit, and it’s not an easy thing to admit where I need to change. I feel vulnerable. But I also feel lucky. Lucky that I found help so quickly, that the other woman is very respectful towards me, and we have found we have more in common than either of us expected. That we both have Joliene’s best interest at heart. We found that we communicate better with each other than I do with my ex!

I still don’t want to hear her referred to as Jo’s “other mom”, I am still protective of my title, and my relationship with my daughter. I am, however, working through these feelings, and learning to deal with them in a healthy way. No one has to be the villain. No One’s The Bitch. Except me, I was kind of being a bitch.

 

 

 

Bridesmaidzilla!

Last night as I was skimming through my Facebook news feed I came across an adorable picture, It was a box with herbal soap, a face mask, nail polish, and a few other things, and there was a card that said, “I can’t say “I do” without you”, and in the lid it said, “Will you be my bridesmaid?” I thought it was the cutest way to ask your friends to be a part of one of the biggest days of your life.

I’m getting married, so of course I thought, who will I build my boxes for, and what will they look like? I was very immediately crushed when I realized that I don’t have my friends anymore. I’m not saying I don’t have friends, I’m just saying, things have changed. When I got engaged I immediately planned about 6 bridesmaids, there was no question in my head, these women have been supportive, and have stuck by me, they love me, they love my daughter… who better to share these awesome experiences with?

Unfortunately, my little fairy tale wedding plans went down the drain very quickly. Within weeks the thought of my wedding gave me anxiety, and conversations about it often ended in tears. I couldn’t understand, I was so happy, I was finally going to marry the man of my dreams, I had the fairy tale engagement! Things were supposed to be happy! But they were terrible. My friends all had their own ideas, and were not willing to work together, one friend all but hated 4 of my bridesmaid choices, one of them lives out of town and felt left out and bitter because she really couldn’t be involved in the plans as much as she wanted to, and she didn’t like 3 of my bridesmaid choices. Me and most of my potential bridesmaids dislike (to say the least) one of my bridesmaid’s husbands, so much, in fact that I have no intention of even inviting him to the wedding, which will cause problems, and the last thing I want to do is force her to choose between us… but he no doubt will give her an ultimatum, one that I won’t be competing with. In the past I have lost, and I can’t take that kind of heart break, especially over my wedding.

Fast forward to today… I’m not even on speaking terms with my potential maid of honor, I’m only superficial friends with one of them. The one with the husband doesn’t feel like she can be honest with me, although she tries… and thanks to this new development, who knows if she will even be able to attend my wedding. I don’t even know what’s going on with my out of town friend, but if my dreams are any indication… I don’t have high hopes. Another one has pulled away because she owes me money (that I don’t care that much about, but the fact that she is blowing me off over it… that’s just wrong.)

If you had seen me with any one of these women a few months ago, you’d think nothing could separate us. Now I’m afraid to pick up my phone to call them. I have responsibility to take. The past few months have been so busy! I recently became a step mom, and a work at home mom. I did not have a decent phone for months, so I could not even talk to my friends on the phone. I don’t have a car so I had to end my usual Saturday happy hour/shopping girl time plans, plus I started working weekends to save up for the wedding. Not to mention, I had a few melt downs that effected my friendships negatively. Looking back I see it clearly, my wedding was basically a battle field, and I felt like I was caught between 6 people. I started lashing out, I must have been subconsciously trying to make them hate me so I wouldn’t have to keep up with so many high maintenance relationships.

I miss my friends. Thanks to all of this, there may not be any bridesmaid boxes. In fact, we have decided to have a destination wedding. It’s simpler this way, and it won’t hurt as bad when 6 of the women that I love so much are not there. But it hurts now, it hurts whenever I get a chance to actually pick up my phone, when I want to share my life, ask advice, laugh. I don’t have anyone to call anymore. I mean, yes, there are people I’m sure I could call, but a few months ago I had 6 people on speed dial, they were my life lines. Granted I am not in need of as much venting time anymore, I’m a lot happier than I was. I also don’t have as much time, but I would gladly make some time to catch up with my friends.

To the 6 of you, I want you to know that I am sorry I did not appreciate you when I had you, and I love you.

***DISCLAIMER: I am super excited about our wedding plans!!! I’ll write a whole blog about the beautiful tropical location we chose!***

***ALSO, I did not include my sisters in the 6 because neither of them caused drama, and they go without saying***