Splitsville: A Letter To My Future Step-Sonâ€™s Mother
Welcome to Splitsville. This weekly column will focus on parenting after a divorce, break-up or one-night stand that didnâ€™t end like a Katherine Heigl movie.
Last week, I wrote a pretty emotional letter to my daughter’s future step-mother. More than anything, I hoped that she would love my daughter whole-heartedly, without worrying about stepping on my toes or bruising my ego. Before thinking about my security issues, I want my daughter to be loved and supported by the adults in her life. If that means opening up and accepting a new woman into a partnership of motherhood, I’m just fine with that.
This piece inspired some incredible and heartfelt feedback. Obviously, the relationship between mothers and step-mothers is a dynamic one. More than anything, I was struck at how much we all want these partnerships to work. Even if it’s difficult sometimes, even if it means giving up a little of our authority or power, we really just want to do what’s best for our kids.
It’s hard to generalize about family relationships, because each group has their own personal set of issues and challenges. We all have our own history. And as some people pointed, not every mother will feel the way that I do. One commenter cautioned that I was giving “cruel and unrealistic hope” to the step-moms of the world. And yet others mirrored my sentiment, or at least hoped that they could be welcoming and inclusive if they were in a similar circumstance.
Even though it’s hard to group together millions of different moms, at the end of the day, birth-parents and step-parents are all parents. We’re all trying to raise children in our own ways. There are good birth-mothers and good step-mothers, just like their are less-good varieties of each. We can only work to make things as comforting and supportive to the children in our lives as possible.
All of this (admittedly very long) intro is leading up to an email I received shortly after posting my letter. One of our readers sent me her own letter and it only served to lift my spirits even higher and reinforce my belief that most parents simply want to help children, whether they gave birth to them or not.
This reader told me that she didn’t always have a good relationship with her fiance’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. In fact, they had despised each other for quite a while. But the more she thought about it, the more she wanted to turn that relationship around. Here’s her letter:
To My Future Step-Son’s Mother,
We havent always had the greatest friendship. Really, I dont know that we’ll ever be the bestest of friends. Im not asking for that.
But when I look at your little boy, my heart fills up in a way that I didnt know it could. His smile is sweet enough to bring tears to your eyes. And honestly, it makes him look just like you. Hes an amazing little boy, and I know he got that way because your a good mom.
I want to be a part of his life. I want to be something positive for him. Not just because I love his dad, but because hes a great kid.
I hope that someday we can move past our bad history. I hope that you’ll let me be a part of D***’s life. I dont want to stand back, afraid to make you upset. I want to be there in whatever way you and him want. I know hes not my baby, but I still hope that I can be a part of his family and yours.
I hope this reader sends her letter. I hope she and her step-son’s birth-mother can build a trusting and respectful relationship. But more than anything, I hope that all of us in these difficult situations will take the time to talk to one another. I hope we’ll communicate how much we care about the kids involved in these families.
What would your letter say?