A few weeks ago, we talked about how sometimes you have to make some big psychological adjustments when you just can’t get anywhere with the other woman, whether mother or stepmom. Here, we talk to Morocco of The Ommy Diaries about how she’s coped with both progress… and roadblocks.
See if you can relate to any part of her journey with Eliza, the mother of her stepkids.
(And she’s got another interesting post where she muses on mistakes she may have made with Eliza here.)
How would you describe the evolution of your relationship with the mom/ex-wife?
We did not begin on a good note. Eliza was not quite ready to move on after the divorce and immediately began causing problems for us. Therefore, we had a bitter and openly hostile relationship. The relationship between she and I really began after her incarceration.
What efforts did you make with her?
I tried sporadically to extend the olive branch before she was arrested. The few times over the years that she would allow my husband to see the boys, I offered to pick them up while he was at work. The offers were ignored. I also attempted to speak to her several times in order to iron out our differences, but she was not receptive to having such conversations with me.
Now that Eliza is incarcerated, I have been able to somewhat establish a line of communication with her. I have made the effort to be more compassionate, nonjudgmental, and empathetic about our past. I have also taken on the responsibility of keeping her informed about the boys and even escorting them for monthly visits with her. I send her things such as books, cards, pictures, and letters to keep her encouraged. For three months, I even paid for her to call collect so that she could talk to her two sons.
What was her response?
Initially, her response was guarded. Then slowly she started reaching out to me as well. When my mother died she sent me a sympathy card and a lovely letter. However, for reasons that I can’t explain, in the last few months she has chosen to pull back. She does not write me on a personal level anymore. While her letters are cordial, now they only pertain to the children.
If she rejected your overtures, or you felt as if you were going backwards, what did you do to make things better, FOR YOURSELF?
I had to do a lot of soul searching, because it was hurtful to me that she rejected my attempts. I also had to fight the urge to be spiteful towards her. I sought advice from close friends, too. Actually, my friend Rhonda and I started our blog The Ommy Diaries to vent our frustrations, share our experiences, brainstorm with other stepmoms, and to provide support to others who are walking the same road as us. God has also been a great source of comfort and inspiration for me when I am feeling slighted by her.
What have you discovered about things you’re willing to risk in your relationship with her, and things you need to protect?
I have discovered that I am willing to risk being made vulnerable by allowing her to get to know me. By this, I mean the person that I am outside of my husband. The only view that she had of me before was that of her ex-husband’s new wife.
I feel that I need to protect our right to exist in harmony.
I need to protect the boundaries that I have recently established. The boundaries include not allowing her to be a negative force in our life, to pull back when she is being argumentative, and to not participate in her drama,
How do you feel about the future of your relationship with her?
At this stage in our relationship I don’t feel very hopeful. I believe that she has yet to let go of the past. This has prevented her from making a genuine effort to close the gap between us. However, I know that I will continue my peaceful practice, regardless of her behavior.
What advice would you give other stepmoms who are struggling?
I would tell them to focus their efforts on being the best stepmom and wife that they can be. I would also encourage them to develop a positive outlook and be slow to take offense.
© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved