When I found out my daughter’s dad moved on, I was devastated. It felt like someone stabbed me in the back and the heart at the same time. I yearned to pick up the phone and call her—the other woman who later became the wife. I wasn’t sure what I would say, but I was sure that the sentences would be filled with four-letter words.
I didn’t dial a single digit. Although a blow up would blow off steam, it could be detrimental to my daughter. Did I want a woman who was mad at me to watch my child unsupervised? Did I want a woman to look at my princess as something other than an adorable, innocent bystander? Even if she didn’t become the evil stepmom portrayed on television, I didn’t want to give her a reason to not cherish my child. I admit—at first I didn’t want a woman I never met around my daughter. Then, I swallowed a very big pill—I’m pretty sure with a very big glass of wine. I cannot control who comes into my daughter’s life. I had to trust God. If this woman loved my ex, she would love his child, right? Fortunately, she has!
I shared my story with my friend Deesha Phillywaw, author of Co-parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce. We talked about how to spin the stepmother story into a positive portrayal. I told her, that I think I may get along better with the wife than the ex. We laughed and came up with 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Hate Your Child’s Stepmother.
1. She gets a set of keys to the carpool.
Heather: I co-parent across state lines, so my daughter’s stepmother helps with the driving. It’s a long haul, so I no longer worry that my ex will fall asleep at the wheel. I say a prayer, and they arrive safely!
Deesha: People sometimes ask me how I really feel about my kids’ stepmom. After I affirm that I don’t just like her, I embrace her as a family member, I add…‘And even if I didn’t like her, she’s another person to drive these kids around!’ Sometimes my co-parent can’t chauffeur our kids to school and to activities, so I welcome this additional driver with open arms!
2. She shuts the revolving door of women who come in and out of your child’s life.
Heather: I hear so many horror stories of men brining home women they wouldn’t introduce to their mother but would let babysit their children. I don’t think my ex would do that, but knowing my daughter won’t be opening and closing the revolving door at their home is a sigh of relief.
Deesha: My kids never met anyone their dad dated except the person he eventually married. I am so thankful that she has been a positive and a constant in their lives. Fewer women—or in this case, one woman, meant less chance for drama and less adjusting for our children. Also, my ex and I agreed that we would give each other the opportunity to meet any new partners before they met the kids.