That conversation with my daughter made me realize how much covering I was going to have to do over her through this process and how intentional I have to be regarding my actions during this new season of life.
I would never want to pass on my adult feelings to her and make her have to intentionally suffer through that.
It’s none of my daughter’s business what happened with me and my ex husband (right now at her age), and it’s not a cross she should ever have to bear.
She has way more adult years to ask questions and figure things out when she is mature enough, but in this season…. I will spare her and cover her as much as possible to preserve her innocence, her childhood, and her relationship with her father as much as I can.
I remember a time after that when she was talking to her father on FaceTime and he kept insisting in his conversation to call his wife mom. I don’t know if he was trying to make his wife feel included, or if it made him feel better about the situation and more accepted, but I over heard him say, “hey ‘moms’ right here. You wanna say hi to ‘mom’? ‘Mom’ wants to say hi.” I don’t know how many times the word ‘mom’ needs to be in a sentence, but he said it as many times as it would fit in the moment. I was immediate annoyed and almost felt like it was some kind of manipulation or brainwashing technique.
She looked at me, and I looked at her, trying my hardest not to show my disgust (but I don’t think I was successful at that moment), and she said “hi ——,” calling her by her first name.
After she got off the call, I had a discussion with her that I didn’t like her calling her step mother, ‘mom’, and that instead, she should use “bonus mom” or…. Just her first name. She said “why not? Daddy said I can call her ‘mom’.”
I knew some of my petty was entering this conversation as mature as I was trying to be, and in the moment I couldn’t help it.
“Because she’s not your mom.”
As soon as I said it, I felt convicted.
I do believe in my heart she was being coaxed into using that word. I do think it was too soon to have a little girl call another woman just ‘mom’ right out the gate, and I felt disrespected as her “main” parent, feeling like my title was being challenged, or snatched and just given to this other woman.
Im the one who gets cheated on, but then I have to willingly share my whole life with the person he cheated on me with…. Including my daughter.
That feeling sucked.
After I responded to my daughter that way, I tried to quickly salvage the situation not to, again, plant a seed I can’t uproot. I said, “daddy’s right, you can call her that but only if YOU want to and only WHEN you want to. What do YOU want to call her?” She said, “I like B-Mom or bonus mom”. I said, “Ok, you can call her that if you want, or you can just call her by her name too, and that’s ok.”
I tried my best to peddle backwards in what I just said, and tried to make her comfortable calling her what she wanted. Again, I wanted to be intentional to not put any strain on her or feel like she has to choose between anyone or make her feel like she can’t like or love this new person in her life.
…but it was hard.
I had to prep my mind that my status and what I am and what I do for my kids,… no one can EVER replace, so even though it still doesn’t sit well with me, what overrides that is knowing deep down inside, my daughter is LOVED, and I can’t choose or dictate where that love comes from, nor do I want to teach her how to reject a person’s love (or to hate) based on my own baggage and adult mess.
The struggle is still real for me as that’s continually emphasized on their end. I still hate it and I still cringe when I hear it… BUT….
I have to be grateful that even through this situation, there is still love to be found. I want it for my kids, just as I want it for myself, and I want to be an example of that in her life.
In every human interaction, I’ve grown to learn that, if you don’t do anything else or know how to do anything else in your actions…
…Just learn how to love.