When I first met my son’s stepmother, I believed that she rose from hell. Just one look at this woman made every ounce of my blood boil. I know what you’re thinking, “you thought that because you still loved your son’s dad,” and to that I have to say you’re wrong. My son’s dad and I fell apart in a peaceful way, so the fact that I thought he was dating the devil’s reincarnate had nothing to do with a possibility of “still loving him”. No, there was something about that woman that I just couldn’t stand. Maybe it was because she seemed so put together, or maybe it was because she was trying to make an impression on my son, whatever it was, this woman was doomed to be my enemy.
When we first met, I noticed she was the opposite of me in every way imaginable. I was a ticking time bomb of emotions, and she was calm and well minded. I was tired, having just stayed up all night with a child who was very sick, and the bags under my eyes told the story of how I struggled to maintain sanity. She had no bags under her eyes, and her hair wasn’t sported in the messiest ponytail known to man-kind. I was wearing my favorite outfit, well slept in pajamas, and I’m certain now I hadn’t showered in about three days. She looked clean and crisp, almost as if she had been preparing for this day.
Looking back now, I’m sure she had her moments of not wanting to meet me that day, after all, she almost didn’t leave the vehicle. Whether that was my ex’s decision or not, I will never know, but she sat quietly in the seat waiting. Being quiet wasn’t and still isn’t my strong suit, so I asked my ex who she was. When He told me they were dating I laughed it off as if I were saying “Yeah, if y’all are dating, why is she in the car,” and with that little snarky chuckle, he waved her to come up to him. Oh fuck. It’s over now. She walked up to him, taking her place by his side, and it wasn’t until my son reached for her that my hatred began.
My son, the same boy that laid in my bed, body hot from a mixture of the fever and his screaming until the baby Motrin kicked in, reached for this unknown woman. He didn’t reach for me, the woman who was so exhausted that she could barely stand up straight, who gave birth to him, who made sure he was fed and bathed. No, he reached for the unknown, the new face that would probably be gone in a month. A switch flipped in my mind, and it took everything in my power to not scream in her face and take my son from her greedy clutch. I watched as she held him the wrong way and smiled that toothy grin. Jesus, even her teeth were better than mine. I slammed the diaper bag into my ex’s hands and blew my son a kiss. He was to infatuated with the new face, this new person that could be his new mommy that he ignored his real mommy.Once they were gone, I lost my nerve. I cried the ugliest cry, honestly after all these years I can’t top it. That woman took FIVE minutes to steal the heart of my son, while I had taken the last year and few months raising him, fetching his bottles, changing his diapers, bathing him. FIVE MINUTES and she was already more important than I was.
My hatred for her grew, especially when a health issue of mine presented its ugly head. I didn’t want to admit to his father on the phone that I was sick to the point that my mother needed to take my son, and I certainly didn’t want to tell her, because who knows what she may have done. So I bent the truth and told them that I would be cutting his time back with them. I felt like a piece of crap the day I met her at the gas station to pick up an old laptop of mine I let them borrow. The fear and anger flashed in her fiery gaze, and it wasn’t just her pain. My ex was distraught, and deep down I knew it was my fault. All I had to tell them was that this illness was going to prevent me from driving, it would prevent me from being a good mother. It didn’t help that I was dating a real piece of work either. But I opted to keep that a secret, and instead, I made them feel like I didn’t want them around my son.
I’ll have you know the medical issue cleared itself up, and I left the worthless person I was dating. I got my son back and called his father, all but sobbing while I apologized. I was the worst mother in the world, keeping my son from him. His dad seemed ecstatic to have him back in his life, and he said that she would be happy too. I choked back the reply of “I’m not doing this to make her happy” and I’m glad I did. We worked out an agreement on when he would get my son, and he was upfront about the fact that she couldn’t stop thinking about my son. Anger boiled in me to the point I couldn’t hold it back. I remember shouting “she is NOT his mother, I am. She is NOT to try to be his mother, she is a step mother. I AM THE REASON THIS BOY BREATHES, NOT HER.” There is was, out on the table for everyone within earshot to hear. I hated this woman because she was a better mother. This woman wasn’t the reincarnate of Satan, I was. That weekend I locked myself in my room, hating her for being so perfect, hating myself for not being a better person.
It wasn’t until my son was half-way through first grade that I called her and said the one thing we were both hoping for: “Let’s put everything out there, why I don’t like you and you don’t like me. We have to for him.” It felt like forever that we were talking, apologies being thrown back and forth to each other. She apologized for hurting my wrist that day at the gas station, I apologized for provoking her. I apologized for taking him away, and she apologized for overstepping boundary lines. We went silent for a moment, and I knew then I’d have a life long friend, bound by the hands of time. We were all in this together, and our son needed us to get along.
Despite the fact that we hated each other with every fiber of our being, we are getting along well now. There are times I’ll call her when I’m on my way to work, and she will call me to talk about things other than our son. And who knows where we will be when our son is old enough to leave the nests, but I’m sure it won’t be where we were before. She doesn’t know it yet, but if my son ever starts calling her mom too, it will be alright by me. After all she had to deal with when it came to me, she has earned that title.
Lesson eight: Sometimes it’s best to set aside your differences with someone. You never know the good that can come from it.