Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stepmom Vs. Biomom: Yours Vs. Mine

The phone rings.
Private Number.
I normally don't answer blocked calls but it's the week leading into Cinderella's school play and I've found myself volunteering more and more to help out in the last-minute crunch so I answer thinking it might be about the clothes I am supposed to drop off for costumes tonight.

Hi, it's Maleficent. Do you have a minute?
"Sure," I say. I think she is calling to go over Cinderella's transportation to and from the three performances that are taking place between Friday and Saturday nights. This is Maleficent's visitation weekend so the responsibility would fall upon her, but I offered to drive Cinderella to her Mom's after Saturday night's performance since I will most likely be assisting backstage.

She's not calling about transportation.

She wants to talk to me as one Mommy to another.
She's wanted to talk to me for a while now and says that she hopes I don't misunderstand what she is about to say.
She wanted to talk to me directly and not go through Prince Charming. She did not want her intentions or the message to get misconstrued.
She wants me to know that my volunteering in Cinderella's drama club hurts her.
Stings, as she put it.
As one Mommy to another I am sure you can understand how you would feel if someone did that with your kids.
She explains how she had wanted to volunteer because she's ALWAYS been involved in Cinderella's extra-curricular activities from Day One (to the point of excluding her Father and I from any involvement, but that's not really the point. Is it?) But her current health issues have prevented her from being as involved this time around.
She wanted me to know that she did contact Cinderella's Drama teacher but never heard back.
I should have followed up but I didn't. And that's my fault.
Still she wanted to let me know that my volunteering and being their for HER daughter hurts HER.
Soon enough you will have Gretel's events to be a part of.
And Hansel's.

But Cinderella is all I have. And to miss out on even one day kills me since I don't get to see her that much as it is.
I am sure you can understand what I mean.

So... what happens next?
How would YOU react to such a phone call? What would you say?
Tomorrow, I'll let you know what *I* said.


Ellen Gerstein said...

Is there any rule that only one parent can help out? I would have suggested that Mallie and I share the load, so I don't have to see her, and she can participate. Of course, I would do this knowing she would never stick to the schedule, and would end up making things 10 times more difficult.

Is there really a "right" answer here? Ugh!

Shayna said...

Ugh. A no win. I always like to defer to, "well, in the best interest of the CHILD, I did blah". You're doing the right thing. She should say she's jealous because that's what she is. But she would be Happy and Grateful you are able to participate because we are all on the same (kids) side. Sigh.

dolfinnlover said...

As a stepmom you could win.....YOu should not feel guilty.

Smirking Cat said...

Does Cinderella enjoy you helping out with the play? Do you enjoy it? How would Cinderella take it if you suddenly stopped? I'm really not seeing any issue here, or how you voluntering with the play is hurting anyone. I agree it sounds more like jealousy.

Licentious Maladay said...

Two things: you can empathize with someone without sympathizing AND you can assume the best of people.

Empathy: "It sound like volunteering at Cinderella is very important to you."

The best: Clearly she could not have wanted YOU to stop volunteering. Why would she want to trade her pleasure for yours? "I'll speak to the drama teacher and see if there is another way you can contribute."

Then you can end the conversation quickly, there being nothing further to discuss.

SambearPoet said...

Wow, talk about a sneak attack, putting you right on the spot. This is the "If I can't have some, nobody else can either" sort of pouty childish crap that people have from time to time. My response would be, "You know what? If you could have, I might not have had to. But that's not what happened. So cope."

Anonymous said...

sounds sooooooooooo familiar to me. gotta love the jealous biomom. exactly how does "if I can't do it, then you can't either" approach work in the favor of the child? Guess what? IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU! Grow up and stop being selfish and realize that YOU ARE LUCKY--yes, lucky--to have such a caring stepmother for your child. sheesh! when will it end?!? :) can't wait to hear your response!

stepmom in IN

Anonymous said...

Strictly hypothetical for me - but I'd like to think I'd say something to the effect of "Wow. Thanks for being so candid. I appreciate how you feel about it - and understand how difficult it must be for you to go through this. But that said, it's about Cinderella - not you or me. I realize that you have reasons that you can't be there doing this thing right now - but that doesn't mean that no one should be there for her. I think we both need to focus on what's best for her in the end, and not what's best for you or for me... and that's why I am doing what I am and will continue doing it. Because in the end, I don't think she should suffer because of any differences between us. But thank you for being honest with me rather than passive aggressive about this - it makes me feel like we'll be able to work things like this out much easier in the future."

But then again, that's said without being in the situation, and without having a history without someone.

Can't wait to see what you said.

Bleu said...

I love what geekmommy said. I would emphathisize and be cordial..but keep her long distance. Thank her for talking to you so frankly, but don't by any means stop volunteering. Your SD is lucky to have you, and well..I'm sure that it does hurt Mom that she isn't there. But..that was kind of her choice wasn't it? BM may be experiencing something thats been LONG overdue for her...the big C in my home..CONSEQUENCES. She did this not you, and I'm sure that it hurts her..but hopefully its a lesson learned.

technomom said...

I've been a custodial and non-custodial biomom AND custodial and non-custodial stepmom. I would NEVER have considered making a phone call like that to my daughter's stepmother! Not once! Because the reality is that, hey, she didn't do it. She could have volunteered, she didn't, and she has NO business going to you about the fact that you did. I would have just been happy that stepmom was being there for my girl!

My partner's ex-wife used to come up with The Crazies on a regular basis when his kids lived with us, about things as silly as not wanting anyone else to buy Beanie Babies for the kids (seriously). It was a no-win, because if we listened to her, my stepkids felt slighted. When we ignored her, she just got crazier. (We did it anyway.)

Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with geekmommy here word for word.

The reality is while you recognize it must be hard on her to not be there for her daughter, she's missing the bigger picture about how that shouldn't mean NO ONE should be there for her. How would cinderella feel then?? No.. don't stop doing the wonderful things you do for her daughter.. and don't let her try to make you feel guilty about it either!


A New Beginning said...

I think Geekmommy is right, too. It is certainly not your fault that she didn't volunteer. It was nice of her to communicate her feelings onthe subject instead of taking her feeling out on you wihtout you understanding why, though. Perhaps this will lead to more calm and clear communication in the future. Perhaps....

Jenni said...

If my SD mom called me and said something like that to me, I'd probably just be like, "Hmm....Okay...well, I'm sorry you feel that way." Or my response may not even be that pleasant since it would be completely unexpected.

daionara said...

"Hmmm and you want to kiss my what exactly?" Or perhaps, "Suck it up and stop whinin' at me because you're pathetic."

Yup, them's my words but then...I'm a b*tch.

Super Woman said...

Boy, I don't envy you being in that position! I should note that I also just read Part 2, and it sounds like you handled it very well.

My gut reaction was that Maleficent IS Cinderella's "real" mom and so she should be able to express her feelings -- right, wrong or indifferent -- about you volunteering at her school or other activities. That said, since YOU are the mom that's essentially raising Cinderella, you have a huge right to be more involved in her school and activities because they are a huge part of - and have a significant impact on - life in your home.

It could've been so easy to get defensive with Maleficent, but it sounds like you kept your cool, listened to her feelings and concerns, and addressed them in a good way that reached towards compromise as opposed to "it's one of us or the other, lady!" Kudos to you - I don't know if I could've handled that with so much calm-headedness. ;)

Our situation is different: my husband's 12-year-old daughter ("Super Girl") is only with us every other weekend and then my husband takes her out to dinner one evening a week. Her mom NEVER tells us about anything at Super Girl's school. Not volunteering opportunities, not conversations she has with teachers about Super Girl's progress in school, not parent-teacher conference dates or times -- NOTHING. And our relationship with her is very hot and cold - either she wants to be our best friend and is talking about what a great father my husband is and how lucky Super Girl is to have me as her "other mom" or she's saying he's a terrible father and that I'm just his "meddling little wife." In all truth, she sometimes strikes me as bi-polar. As such, I can't imagine having that serious a conversation with her mom and having it turn out well!

Anyway, good for you! I hope that issue is resolved.

Wicked Stepmom said...

SuperMom - Our Maleficent is bipolar as well - w/ a few other psychosis thrown in for good measure - so we never know what we are going to get with her. She runs hot and cold ... so I am not counting on this amicable behavior lasting for very long.

Anonymous said...

I question your motives based on the comment that you dont respect her as a mother. Who are you to judge and why are you taking the time to judge her as a parent? Judging her opens you up to anger and disagreement. Let her be her Mom. Dont dominate events and volunteer more than normal or she ll feel as if you are trying to push her out of her daughter's life. This is exactly the situation i m in. Step mom volunteers for absolutely everything. and in doing so makes it very clear she is marking her territory. This makes my daughter very uncomfortable so i back off meanwhile she physically dominates the situation. making it a horrible situation for everyone involved. please tell me this is not what you are doing. its a terrible environment for the child.

Anonymous said...

hi I actually know how you feel coz I am a step mom to a kid who was left by her mom with my husband and his family when she was 1.She was not married to my hubby but they lived together until she left her.She gets to see her kid every time she wants to but the thing is she teaches her kid to hate her father.She thinks she is the better parent and she tries to go against my hubby's rules to his kid.But my question is how can a mom think she is the better parent if she left her kid to the father???She wants to know everything but never bother to tell somethings to my hubby too.I just pity the kid coz she is so confused and starting to become a brat.However my husband wants to raise his kid in a way he thinks he should be raised with my help we can't because of the moms interference.Its soo sad to see my husband getting his hands tied up in everything he wanted to do to his kid.The mom even talked to me against my husband but what would she expect me to do?I feel as a wife,I am at my husbands side and will always support him in everything.I know he's not doing anything wrong it's just some people trying to get involve and this ex trying to mess up everything!I know the feeling..just do what you think is best.The mom is just scared bec she thinks your a better mom than her!

Nishna said...

At least biomom is talking to you. My husband's ex won't look at me, she has NEVER spoken to me, she only calls me "N" (prob cuz I'm Full-blooded Native Am. and she's a white woman) and she tells her kids it's all MY fault THEIR family broke up. yep, after 30 years Biomom still picks up her old fiddle and plays the same old tune to her kids cuz they're the only ones who will listen. My husband is SO SORRY he had kids with her.