They Don’t Affect Who I Am

I’ve struggled over how to write about this topic. It’s been on my mind for so long that I’ve written and rewritten this post in my head. Then I shelved it, set it on fire, and sent the ashes to the trash bin. I’ve censored myself with intention. What I’ve wanted to say, I haven’t said, because it’s an issue that might come across wrong in the world of divorce.

It might sound like I’m whining.

It might sound like I’m bitter.

It might seem petulant–a point in which I should, as Elsa sang, let it go.

Over the past two years, I’ve told myself to let it go. I’ve told myself it doesn’t matter. I’ve cautioned myself to rise above, to try harder, and to not care. I’ve told myself that they do not know me, and that they do not affect who I am.

At the end of the day, though, I do care. I care, even when I’ve told myself not to care.

The problem is these two women, who have no clue who I am, hate me. Without every having known me, they have created an idea of me based in fantasy. They should want to know me. They should want to know all about me. One should actively be trying to gain my favor, but she treats me as if I’m a problem–or a threat.

The few encounters I’ve had have been filled with blatant contempt. They have either tangibly ignored my presence, given me eye rolls, shot me glowers, or stated snide remarks.

I shouldn’t care, but I do.

My child has known a woman for over two years now. She and my ex-husband have been dating throughout that time. My ex met her on-line (because apparently he’s all about looking at females on the internet now), and she is a devout Christian woman (thankfully he’s now Christian, so … bonus). She has grown daughters, and a ten year old son. The custody arrangements have seemed strange. The daughters went to live with their father when my ex moved in. The son has another father, and I have no clue who is primary in that situation, but he’s always there when my child is over there.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve found out–minor internet research aside.

Without my son’s knowledge, or mine, he was moved into this strange woman’s home during visitations with his father. My son has been told to call her house “home,” and they decorated a room for him. Everything was sprung on me without warning, and although an initial visit to her home was offered, it was quickly rescinded. While she should be bending over backward to make me feel at ease, all I’ve received is blatant derision. She should be extending pleasantries of her own volition, encouraging and fostering a relationship with the mother of a child she watches every other weekend, yet she avoids me to the point where it’s obvious she feels I have wronged her.

Having been a stepmother in my ex-husband’s world–as Wife #3–I can understand some of her hostility. My ex, when we were newlyweds, refused to tell his ex-wife that he was married for six months. He expected me to whisper in my own home (because my ex is a moocher, and hops from one woman’s home to the next) when Wife #2 called to speak to her son.

There was one moment, when we were separated or going through a divorce, that my ex told me Wife #2 said, and I quote, “That’s her? She’s not even pretty.”

Ouch.

Insert eye roll here.

He fostered an intolerant situation amongst ex-spouses, which was one of the reasons I got divorced.

Still, even when he would try to create cattiness amongst his exes, I rose above. I reached out to Wife #2, because I was the stepmother. At least I did, until she screeched, “WHY IS THAT B*TCH HERE?” in front of teachers. She was straight class, that Wife #2.

This new woman, however, might never carry a wifely role. If my ex wasn’t lying, for once, he has no plans on marrying her. She’s just the woman who houses my son when he visits his father. If anyone could be angry or hostile over the situation, it should be me.

I have that right, particularly seeing as she might wake up one day and kick them out.

What have I wanted, though? I have wanted a woman who has the maturity to realize that she needs to demonstrate mutual respect in front of the child that I created–the same child she watches every other weekend.

The other woman who hates me, Mr. M’s ex, I have met only once. I walked up, extended a hand, and she rolled her eyes at me. I told her that her son is amazing, and tried to let her know that I won’t ever be a threat to her extistence. That’s all a mom wants from a stepmom, right?

She is mom; I am not. I’ve known my place from day one.

However, Lil Dude and Tiny Tot were talking one day, and, after getting into the car after taking a potty break, I heard the following conversation:

Lil Dude: My mommy told me that she hates Ms. Jaime.

Tiny Tot: Who would hate my mommy?

Lil Dude: That’s what she said.

Me: Your mommy has the right to her feelings, just like you have the right to yours. How do you feel about me, Lil Dude?

Lil Dude: I LOVE you!

Me: I love you, too.

Tiny Tot: But, wait. Mommy, you like Ms. K because she loves me.

Me: That’s true. As long as she treats you like the amazing person you are, I’ll like her. I have no reason to not like her.

It’s been hard being hated by two women who know nothing of my character, but I won’t let it affect who I am. In my heart of hearts, I’ve envisioned a moment where we’re all symbiotic; a moment where we realize the children are more important than adult feelings. Their abject derision has hurt, but it’s only hurt my pride. However, I have the love of Tiny Tot, Lil Dude, and Mr. M to supersede their feelings. Maybe one day they could grow to see that we should all be adults in the world of divorce, putting our children’s needs above our personal wants. Until then, though, I’ll have to learn to listen to Elsa, and let it go.

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