In the words of other stepmoms

I’m currently working on an article about how to reach out to the stepmother or ex-wife in your life — what it actually might look like; why you’d want to (or not); what’s in it for you; what could potentially go wrong (and you don’t need me to tell you, there’s lots).  Two posts from other sites that seemed particularly apropos popped into my mind.  So I dug around on the fantabulous DHX: Doughtie Houses Exchange until I found what I was looking for, then hopped on over to The Ommy Diaries

I find it fascinating to read about how other stepmother or ex-wives have handled establishing a relationship with the "other woman."  Scary business that can be really confusing. 

And sadly, it doesn’t always have a happy ending….

In the DHX post, stepmom Jill is looking at why she felt compelled to keep reading bio-mom Kathy’s blog entries:

…I was trying to understand her. I really, really didn’t understand. Who
was this other person who suddenly had such a deep reach into my
personal life? I was scared of her. But I also wanted to know who she
was and what she wanted. I didn’t get it. It was really important to
me. And I was scared to show up in person and try to find out."

(You can read the rest of the post here.)

This is one thing I love about their site.  Not only are they another stepmom/ex-wife team who have figured out how to co-parent cooperatively, they’re also friends, just like Carol and I.  Their posts are always inspiring and often downright beautiful.  But what keeps pulling me back to their writing is this wonderful sense of honesty and open, almost child-like sense of willingness to explore and learn — about each other, about themselves, about the vagaries of this potentially weird, sometimes really stressful journey.

The second post, from the Ommy Diaries recounts stepmom Morocco’s initial steps at creating a connection with the mom, Eliza, who is actually in jail. 

"…Though I truly wanted to stop the bickering, I really wanted to be the one who “tried.”  When she agreed to my proposal [for a truce] I had mixed feelings.  It was a blessing and a curse.  The blessing being that it would give us a chance to get to know each other and attempt to dispel any preconceived notions that we had about each other.  It would mean a clean slate for us.  The curse was that I would have to allow her to get to know me.  And I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted her to know me on a deeper level.  I wished I had never opened my mouth!"

(You can read the rest of the post here.)

Her story is very real, and again — very honest — and illustrates how
very difficult it can be to reach out to someone who is not sure they
want a relationship with you.  Her reactions, emotions and even
judgments. seem very human and I give her credit for her bravery.

If you go back and read newer posts, you’ll see that Eliza is making strides in reaching back.  A simple card… and an acknowledgment can make such a huge difference!  Something to think about….

These kinds of relationships are such works in progress, aren’t they?  It’s hard not to give up hope when things get nasty or lop-sided or just sag under the weight of old resentments and anger. 

I keep saying, the potential benefits are worth the effort, but I also realize it may not work out for everyone.

(On a personal note, I wish there were more ex-wives/bio-moms writing about their perspective.  There are plenty of sites geared towards stepmothers, but the moms seem to be largely silent.  Why is this?!)

© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved


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  1. Wow, I feel so honored that for once I am speechless! This site as well as the DHX provides so much hope for me as I try to connect with Eliza.
    Once again you have captured my feelings exactly. I, too wish that there were more sites featuring moms and stepmoms–because I firmly believe that we are a team (whether we like it or not). I was inspired and empowered when I finally stumbled upon NOTB and The DHX. I felt twice blessed and could not believe my good fortune. I had always dreamed of such sites, but feared it was only wishful thinking that could not possibly come to fruition.
    I always found the sites where the stepmom and the mom were at odds with one another, but could rarely find any that told a different story. Thank you for being the lighthouse on this journey that I am taking. It is not always easy–I often get very discouraged and angry even, but I just refuse to let things go back to the way they were. I struggle to continue reaching out–which is why I continue reading your blog. Thank you for leading the way.

  2. I am a bio-mom, and also a step-mom, with the same woman on the other side of each. I divorced, with two kids that I shared half time with my ex. I married a man with two kids, and from the second week we moved in together we had his kids half-time as well. At first I deliberately stayed out of the way of the mom, figuring it would be easier on her, even though I was very involved in the kids lives since they were quite young and with us as much as they were with her. She reached out to me, insisting that I be part of the communication she and her ex had about the kids. All was well for a little while. The apparently she noticed that the arrangement had not put her in charge of everything. And all hell broke loose. She first wrote (actually had her brother the attorney) write a couple of letters to the school, intimating poor ethics and asking that I be banned from all meetings about th ekids since I was not the mother. That failed of course. She then made an official complaint to my state licensing board (I;m an attorney) alleging that I was “pretending” to be the mother of her kids. The licensing board declined to investigate. Then she began hanging around my ex. She managed to ingratiate herself, and they married a few years later. A week after their wedding, she filed a lawsuit against my husband (her ex) to take away some of his custody rights. Many thousands of dollars later, she lost. She got pregnant. A month after their baby was born, my ex filed a lawsuit against me to take away some of my custody rights. many more thousands of dollars later, he lost. While I pity the woman for her obvious psychiatric hell, I also fantasize about karate kicking her in the jaw. And her daughter, now a teenager, no longer wants to live with her.

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