Now up until this point I’ve been the only Mum in town.
I’ve been Mum to my 2 beautiful girls and step mum to my beautiful step daughter and while it’s been challenging on a personal level I’ve felt fairly un-challenged in my roles. I have never felt the need to compete with my step daughters Mum – she has the right and honour of the role of Mum for her – so naturally I thought my benevolence would extend to all forms of step parenting.
How naive I was…
When I was coming to grips with being a step mum I often read this open letter published in the Huffington Post – even now it brings me to tears with the pure selflessness of it and I hope that one day I can be that kind of Mum.
Turns out I’m not quite there yet and here’s where the wheels of my train to model blended parenting fall off (OK – it’s a complete derailment!)
A couple of weeks ago my ex husband let me know he had a new girlfriend. Now I have to say here that I am truly happy for him. I love James to the end of the world and I love my new life and regardless of that there is no animosity or regret with our split and I truly wish him all the best as he moves forward and I hope he feels the same about me.
The kids too seem genuinely happy with the news. My youngest daughters first words when she got home (she is 7 which explains a lot) were “Ha ha Mummy, Daddy has a new girlfriend” so I guess it’s lucky he warned me in advance.
But here’s the bit I hadn’t planned for… His new girlfriend is lovely. She is young, she is gorgeous, she’s about half the size of me and to top of this perfect package she’s a primary school teacher.
Now the “Good Mum” part of me is doing a happy dance. This is an awesome person to have in my daughters life. I am living the Huffington Post lady’s dream. I am the poster child for happily blended life and my daughters have hit the jackpot.
And that’s where it should end. Except that the “Bad Mum” side of me feels horribly jealous. The “Bad Mum” thinking tells me that she probably has so much more energy than me at my jaded “working 3 jobs to pay the huge mortgage” and being 2 months off 40 self has. She is trained to look after children for goodness sake whereas I just fumble my way through parenting. What if, says my jealous, scared and brutally honest side, they like her more than me.
It’s a horrible thought and right now the “Good Mum” and “Bad Mum” are duking it out in a very un ladylike dual for supremacy. It is also incredibly pre-emptive worry (which I am prone to) as they only met her today but I know my ex husband simply wouldn’t introduce her if it wasn’t serious.
So that’s my battle and I’m sure it’s not an uncommon one. And that is why I’m battling through the doubts and nerves to write this down to give a voice to those of you struggling with a similar thing and not quite being able to be the Huffington Post mum yet. The other reason of course is to hear the wisdom of those who have successfully navigated this stage of life which I love getting at every post we make.
I’m rooting for “Good Mum” to take this one out. She’s going to have to be brave and selfless, just like the Huffington Post lady and it probably wouldn’t hurt if she dropped a couple of kilos too (just to be match ready you know). She is going to have to look past her insecurities and her ego to what is best for her daughters.
It’s going to be tough “Good Mum” – you may need a wine or two along the way but I suspect “Bad Mum” has your back on this particular one.
It’s a brave new world of parenting and I salute all of you who walk this road every day – regardless of whether you do it as an original unit, alone, divided or 2 sets of parents walking side by side.
The one day maybe Huffington Post Mum but for now the swaying between Good/Bad Mum
Post script… 7 years later….
They got married. They had a baby – a sister for my two, born on the exact day 10 years later that my own daughter was. It wasn’t easy for a long time. But now, well we have them over to our place often and we go to theirs. I’ve babysat their daughter and she is part of our big messy family – they even have my step daughter to stay with them. I was right about her – she was lovely. But I was wrong that she’d be a threat. Turns out my girls have incredibly big hearts that expanded to fit all the new parts of their family in and our lives are all richer for it.