I was divorced three years ago and I share custody of my two kids 60/40 with my ex-husband Steve. I am a physician’s assistant, my husband is a surgeon, so while we both work, my hours are not as onerous as his.
We have always gotten along after our divorce even though he had several affairs. One of his many conquests, 32 year old “Sarah” managed to convince him to marry her and they did just that on New Year’s Eve last year. I have no problem with Steve being remarried but I do have a problem with Sarah.
Photos of my kids on Facebook and Twitter are now popping up on a daily basis and she calls them “my girls” or “my family.” She took it upon herself to plan my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday party without consulting me and last week she decided to explain sex to my 7 year old! Both the girls have come home with terrible haircuts and my 7 year old told me Sarah says she can get her ears pierced when she turns 8, which I very much disagree with.
This kind of stuff is happening more and more and I’ve tried to speak to my ex-husband about it but he feels sorry for her because they can’t have kids of their own (he got snipped 2 years ago). He understands and agrees but doesn’t want to stand up for me.
All that is bad enough but I’ve been keeping my cool to avoid creating drama. Well last night my ex called me and said that he would like me to consider changing the parenting time from 60/40 to 40/60 because Sarah doesn’t work and has more time to spend with the girls than I do. I informed him as politely as I could that such a change was out of the question, at which point he hinted he may make a move to modify our parenting plan.
The gun laws in my state are pretty lax. Please talk me off the edge before I do something stupid. 😉
While I understand your anger and frustration, please step away from your google search for “undetectable poisons” and “hit-men for under $5,000.” Sarah sounds like an insufferable twatbucket, but spending the rest of your life in prison isn’t going to help your girls.
Luckily for you, I am an expert in this field! Not only have I had 37 stepmothers, but I am also a stepmother and my son has a stepmother. When it comes to advice on stepmothers, you have come to the right place!
What Sarah obviously didn’t learn in her “How to Marry a Rich Man and Sit on Your Ass for the Rest of Your Life” class is how to strike the delicate balance between being a loving, supportive and encouraging stepmother and venturing into territory that should remain that of the children’s parents. Here are my thoughts:
1. You told me when we talked on the phone last week that you have never met Sarah in person because you felt you weren’t ready. Melanie, this is unacceptable.
I know it is difficult shaking the hand of a woman whose lips were all over your husband’s kielbasasicle while you were still married, but you admitted to me you weren’t happy in the marriage and you were relieved when he brought up the idea of divorce. It’s time to woman up and call a meeting. More on that in a moment.
2. When we spoke you said your girls like their stepmom but they don’t like the overboard attempts to win their favor. They told you she tries too hard and they don’t like being posted on her social media accounts all the time. OK, we’ve got some really good stuff to work with here. Time to call a meeting!
3. Call Sarah and tell her it’s high time the two of you get to know each other. Be pleasant and warm, even though your favorite way to relax is picturing her bobbing lifeless body, made buoyant by her ridiculous high and hard implants, bumping up against the filter in your ex-husband’s pool.
4. Try to get her to come to your house for the meet-and-greet, so you can be on your home turf and with photos of your girls around you. Should you serve wine? Does a pope shit on his subjects?
5. Here’s the hard part: what to say. I’ll outline it for you so you can blame me later if it all goes to shit:
A. Thank You
“My girls really enjoy spending time with you. While I am sorry they come from a family of divorce, I am happy their father has met someone and created a new family unit on his end. I am hopeful I can do the same someday. Thank you for being a kind and caring stepmom to my kids.”
B. I’d Like to Get to Know You
“I know from reading www.askdescamp.com that it is best for the kids and the parents to maintain as positive a relationship as possible between the exes and their new partners, so are you willing to get to know each other and work together?”
1. (If she says no) Stab her with the corkscrew, finish your wine and figure out where to bury the body.
2. (If she says yes) “Great! I have some ideas on how we can do this co-parenting thing and keep our relationship positive, so let’s discuss!”
C. Here are Some Suggestions and Areas Upon Which We Should Agree
1. “I need to be in the loop on decisions relating to my kids – even those issues that may seem trivial like haircuts and ear piercing. Having them come home looking so different, talking about sex or being promised things that I don’t agree with is very hard on me. Can we agree to communicate on stuff like this?”
2. “I can understand why you are proud to be a stepmom to these wonderful girls, but they are uncomfortable with the amount of photos you are posting on the Internet, and I am too. It feels like you are trying to usurp my role as the mom.
“It’s hard for me to admit this to you but it really hurts my feelings. I try not to seek those photos out but I do hear from other people and as I said, the girls don’t like it. Can we agree you will try to limit the social media postings? The kids are still working through some divorce issues and I think it would be helpful.”
3. (The Biggie)
“Sarah, as much as you care for my girls, you can’t possibly understand how much I miss them when they aren’t here. Their father and I made a decision together when we divorced that I would have them 60% of the time and he would have them 40%. This schedule has worked very well for us and it is what the kids are accustomed to.
“I think it is wonderful you want to spend more time with them, but I simply can’t agree to a change in the parenting plan as it would be incredibly disruptive to the girls and to me.
“The absolute last thing in the world I would ever want to do is enter into litigation with my ex-husband, but I will be forced to fight any proposed modification and my lawyer tells me that remarriage to a woman who wants to be a more active stepmom is not a ‘substantial change in circumstances’ that would warrant an alteration of our parenting plan.”
D. Closing Arguments
1. Reiterate your desire for cooperation, communication and an amicable relationship between the families. Try not to barf.
2. Emphasize that your girls like her but that she doesn’t need to try so hard.
3. Do your best to impress upon her how much you love the girls and why you can’t agree to changes in the schedule, but offer that you will be flexible on those occasions when your ex-husband and his future alimony recipient would like extra time with the kids.
4. And now, the best part!
Give her this link: Vasectomy Reversal, and say this:
“Sarah, your superior step mothering skills make it obvious you should have kids. There is no joy in the world that can compare to having a child of your own. You are still so young and since it hasn’t been that long since the vasectomy, the chances of reversal are pretty decent!
“If Steve really loves you, he will do this for you. He gave me two beautiful daughters, the least he could do is give you a child as well.”
That should keep her busy for a while.
Being a stepmom is a very tricky business and I don’t envy your situation, but I suggest taking this line of offense first, because it will be exactly the opposite of what she is expecting and she is probably too stupid to know she is being manipulated. The best course for any blended family is to go along to get along whenever possible.
If this bullshit doesn’t stop, you need to have a very serious conversation with your husband, who apparently left his balls in the doctor’s office when he got his baby-maker turned off. I don’t have time to go into that chat now, but please write me again if this plan does’t work. There are some women who just don’t get it when it comes to respecting the place of the mom and understanding the role of the stepmom.