My three kids are headed out for week away from me. They will be spending it with their dad and his girlfriend and will be four hours away. Of course, I have all the feelings– I miss them terribly. They are making memories without me, and as I write this, there’s another woman sitting to the right of my ex-husband, where I used to sit.
There are times when it leaves me gutted, if I am being honest. I’m sad about what’s happened to my family, but I am happy about her for many reasons.
Although it’s not easy to see your ex and your kids fall in love with another woman, their relationship with her is solid for a reason; she’s wonderful, has their best interest in mind, and is more than willing to partner with me and my ex in parenting them, and that’s good enough for me to welcome her with open arms. After all, during these tumultuous teen years, parents need all the help they can get.
As they are on the road, I get a message from my sweet, teenage girl. She’s having some trouble, doesn’t know what to do and sends me a panicked text. These day’s she’s going through a ton of mind and body changes; she wants and needs help and advice.
It kills me I’m not physically there for her– she’s over two hours away from me, and doesn’t want to talk about what’s going on with her father; she’s a very private girl and it’s hard enough for her to open up to me about certain things. Not to mention her younger and older brother are sitting within close proximity, probably waiting for an opportunity to pounce and chime in because that’s how my teens have fun with each other these days.
I know my ex-husband’s girlfriend is up for the challenge and I tell my daughter I’ll take care of it, and I do.
By “taking care of it” I mean I text the woman who is sitting where I used to sit, asking her to play the role I used to play, and take care of my daughter and help her make the situation okay.
She gets back to me immediately and says she knew something was off with our Anna, and she does exactly what I would have done if I was there, then gets back to me with an update.
I’m washed over with relief and stop gripping my phone, but the thing is, I never doubted she’s help make my daughter feel better. I didn’t feel the need to instruct her on what to say or how to handle it. And I truly believe if I was full of anger and resentment and unable to communicate in a healthy way with her, I wouldn’t be able to reach out and ask for help– help that my daughter needs, and help all my kids will need regularly while they are away from me.
I feel nothing but gratitude for this woman– my kids are in loving hands, I can get back to work and then, I realize something; there are going to be so many more exchanges between the two of us. I need her help while my ex-husband and I navigate our way through these teen years. It comes with the job of being his girlfriend; she knows it and she’s never once wavered. Now that’s the kind of love I want for my kids and it makes it easy to overlook the petty things that might otherwise upset me.
And I’ll be the first to admit this extra help isn’t only welcome because they are with her and my ex part of the time — I’m embracing their second mom because this shit is hard and there’s no way I’m going to turn down advice, support, and help from someone who loves my children as if they were her own.
Since our kids were older when divorced, we both knew they’d be watching us, and the way we handled our split, very closely. It whipped us into shape pretty quickly.
I was only able to take navigating my way through everything one second at a time, but what I did know was if we were civil to each other, and were able to keep the kids’ best interest at the forefront of our minds, they would be all right. This includes having a relationship with the woman my ex-husband is in love with.
It’s still hard to swallow the fact we are able to give them a better life separately than we could if we’d stayed together.
And I know I’ll always be their mom, no matter what, but having another woman in my life has cemented something I’ve already know for a while: two strong women are better than one.
And I’m more than okay showing this to my children through the relationship we’ve cultivated, and will continue to cultivate, together.