I think one of my biggest, deepest, darkest fears post divorce was what if my kids liked the GF better than me. What if they wanted to live with her and their dad? What if I get tossed out and the new model takes my place?
Not so fast runaway anxiety train. Slow it down.
Thankfully that never happened and my kids tolerate her and there is zero chance of the kids choosing her over me, but for a few months I was really worried. This was especially troublesome because her life with Disneyland Dad was so much more fun than mine. She let them drink soda pop from a sippy cup. They took them to Disneyland and Seaworld and the Beach while I struggled to make my payments and put my life back together. I was only one person. They were two. More money. More time. More Fun.
I felt like I was behind the 8-ball from Day 1. Not a good place to be. But a funny thing happened on the way to the theme park. My kids started to whine and fuss – so badly that my ex and the GF turned around and brought them back to me. This wasn’t the time I sent the kids in the car with their dad packing a whistle, a kazoo, staining grape juice and sticky AirHeads in their day packs for the three hour ride. This was just a typical pick up fun day from Disneyland Dad to that famous theme park.
“It’s boringland” said my little one scrambling out of his seat. “I don’t want to go to boringland. I hate it.”
I hugged him as he got out of his dad’s car wondering what happened. My older one headed into the house and the upset, frustrated and annoyed EX and GF pealed out leaving one bewildered single mom in the driveway.
Turns out Disneyland sucks without mom. They told me riding the rides with the GF wasn’t fun because she didn’t cover their eyes for the scary part or scream while going up the rollercoaster to make them laugh. They told me how they are allowed soda and candy and snacks until they feel sick but that it’s no fun without mom to tell them no. They told me their dad pays attention to the GF and the GF only pays attention to them when their dad is watching. They told me they tell her she is pretty so she buys them stuff. At first it was fun – now they just miss mom. Apparently they don’t like my rules…but they like my rules.
I have two smart little suckers.
I realized in that moment there is only one mom. The one you whine about, cry to and curse when she makes you come home when all the other kids are going to a party. When you are sick or scared or lonely or hurt – you don’t want Dad…you don’t want the GF…you want mom. There is only one person called “mom.”
So whether the GF is a welcome member of the family or a rotten affair partner that continues to rear her ugly head, know that as YOUR children’s mother…you are “mom.” You are the safe place to fall. You are the source of love, healing and happiness. I have found that its best to let the kids make up their mind about the GF and you can teach them valuable lessons about love, acceptance and ownership of their own feelings.
I tell them you don’t have to like the GF but you must treat her politely. I tell them you don’t have to like who your dad chooses or what he does with his life. I tell them that they don’t have to like anyone I date but they must treat them politely. I tell them that their thoughts and feelings matter and I am always a safe place for them to share them.
Divorce is rough on kids. They are often too little to understand the complexities of human behavior, but with careful attention and a good therapist like I have who specializes in kids and divorce you can teach them life long lessons that though they learn them young, they have to learn eventually. Then it makes the pain and heartache have some redeeming value. So just give yourself a hugs and remember you are “mom.”
My Best Parenting Advice: What if they Like her Better? By Sandra Beck