Sure, many mothers and stepmothers may not get along well, but they've got one very important thing in common. Neither one of them is ever going to be the "nuclear wife” in a family made up of Mom, Dad and the little ones. Perhaps an acknowledgment of the challenges and heartache associated with this fact can be one of the first bridges built between them.
Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between these three situations. Who does each statement below "belong" to?
The nuclear mom (NM), the stepmom (SM) or the ex-wife (EX)?
Parental Support from Partner
______ My parenting ideas clash with the way he's always done it.
______ We may have different styles, but he's always been there as my back-up.
______ This is hard doing this mostly on my own now.
______ Our future would be a lot brighter, if money weren’t always flying out the window for child support.
______ At least we're in it together, even if we're always struggling.
______ Things feel pretty shaky, even with child support.
Priority of the romantic relationship
______ I always feel like our relationship comes second, or worse. We never got a "fresh start."
______ It may be rocky at times, but we know it's best for family stability if we put us first.
______ I always feel torn between trying to give the kids enough attention and trying to find the space in my life to even have a relationship.
Bond with the children
______ I sometimes feel a sense of mutual dislike between myself and the kids. I also know they sometimes feel guilty liking me.
______ We’ve got the regular chaos of family life, but at least our connections are pretty straight-forward.
______ Being the full-time parent has actually made my relationship with the kids a little worse, because I never have time to bounce back from disagreements.
Ability to plan for the future
______ I never know if our plans will get screwed up by surprises from her or the kids.
______ Sure, we’ve got bills, teenagers, and college to plan for, but at least we still have each other
______ It’s scary to feel like it's all on my shoulders.
Possibility of additional children
______ I wish we could decide this issue without always having to take the stepkids into consideration.
______ Do we want more or not? Let's decide together whether this works for the whole family.
______ Even though I’m remarried and we’ve had more, there's always this feeling of a "split" between the two sets of kids.
Relationships with extended family
______ I now have three – not just the traditional two, but his ex-wife and her relatives too.
______ We’ve got two to deal with it and that's enough, happy or not.
______ I now have just one – I distinctly feel the loss of one whole side.
Sense of being in control of her life
______ I always aware of the fact that my desires may be trumped at any time by the kids or worse, her.
______ Regular life challenges throw me for a loop occasionally.
______ I’m struggling to keep my head above water as a full-time, single parent while working.
What do you think? How did you do? Some items seem to fit in the other categories too, don't they?
It's probably pretty obvious, but just in case, all the first statements most naturally fit the stepmom, second statements the nuclear mom, and the last statements, the ex-wife (whether re-partnered, or not).
We're hoping that this quiz helped you see life through the other woman's eyes a little more clearly. Each situation has its own unique challenges, strengths and sweet spots.
© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved