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Just A Guy on Mother's Day

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Bruce Sallan: As I'm recently remarried, teaching my boys to remember, recognize, and appreciate their new step-mom is easy. She does so much for all of us, though I'm still the primary parent. Just her cooking and pies, alone, are heaven to us after living on Spam and cold pizza all these years. We'll make her a special meal, get her flowers, make or buy cards, the usual drill.

But, it's dealing with my ex that has been and continues to be the dilemma. However, I now feel that time has given us the answer. When we were first separated, then divorced, even though she saw little of the boys, I felt it appropriate that the boys remember her on Mother's Day (and her birthday), so I took them to the store and we bought or they made cards and sent them to her.

Now, as she's virtually disappeared from their lives, I no longer feel it my duty or obligation to remind them or guide them further in remembering their biological mother. A man I respect greatly has often talked about biological parents, specifically dads, as sperm donors. His notion of parenting has nothing to do with who made the child, but who actually raises them.

My boys are now old enough to recognize that their biological mother has abandoned any participation in their lives, while recognizing their new step-mom has come in, with no experience, biology, or history whatsoever, and given them the love they always deserved. But, who knows really what the right thing to do is, after all, I'm just a guy. Happy Mother's Day to all.

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19 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous May 9, 2009, 10:34 AM

Maybe your kids could see your new wife as a mother if you would stop pointing out that you’re still the “primary parent.” You’re robbing them of all that’s good by labeling everything in your life.

Bruce Sallan May 9, 2009, 10:51 AM

Hmmm. I stay at home in the full-time parent role, much as many mothers do, while my wife works full-time out of the home. Would you say the same thing if a mother said she was the “primary parent?” Also, my boys see their stepmother fully as a co-parent and love her accordingly. What in this blog made you think otherwise? BTW, Happy Mother’s Day to you and I appreciate your pov.

Adrienne Wienir May 9, 2009, 12:25 PM

Your boys are very fortunate to have had you there to provide the security and sound guidance during their younger years.Having chosen the perfect stepmother was a brilliant move. Now respecting them to make their own decisions about their relationship if any with their biologic mother is the correct thing to do. Bravo and Happy Mother’s day!

FunGuy May 9, 2009, 1:58 PM

Responding to the “robbing” comment: Come on now! Naturally someone has to be the primary parent in time spent, emotional availability etc. especially if the other parent disappears. Bruce has simply not off loaded his responsibility off on his new wife, but continued the level and effort that he has displayed all along. Furthermore, taking credit for laudable efforts shows a healthy, mature individual that we hope to be. It is not bragging if you’re doing the work and have the skill. If I remember correctly from an earlier blog, Bruce’s kids are in high school and I am sure that bonding might be just a bit tougher at this stage in their lives vs. earlier ones, for any ‘new’ parent just coming into the picture, step or otherwise. Besides being a single dad may just be harder than being a single mom as our culture doesn’t accept it or support it in a fashion like it does single moms… if Bruce doesn’t recognize his own efforts under conditions like this, who will? If you were the new mom and were not receiving thanks on mother’s day, with the kids, would you be likely to increase or decrease the amount of participation? I would rather hope that the “Anonymous” commenter would attempt to encourage and support parents, like Bruce, who are there for their kids (regardless of sex) and recognize those who are. There is an important life lesson here as well… responsibility pays if you recognize it. There is nothing more that you can leave as a legacy than your own kids. Keep writing Bruce, ignore the haters!

Walter May 9, 2009, 2:03 PM

Good wife, good kids making good decisions, good day for a celebration indeed! Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours Bruce!

NBG May 9, 2009, 2:10 PM

We can only nurture love for ourselves by showing love to those who choose to be in our lives. Lucky to be a man who’s love is growing on Mother’s Day.

joanne May 10, 2009, 1:24 AM

I applaud any dad who takes the role of raising his kids seriously and with passion in his heart, as Bruce seems to.
I think he’s doing well!

K&C's mom May 10, 2009, 1:47 AM

I was in the same situation, but reversed, I got pregnant, and my boyfriend skipped town. I met a wonderful man who is my daughter’s daddy, he is going to adopt her, he is the only daddy she has known. The Christmas after we got engaged, I bought him a plaque that says, “Anyone can be a Father, it takes a real man to be a Dad”. That is very true and the same can be said about mothers and moms!!!

Anonymous May 10, 2009, 11:31 AM

Even though your kids “seem” to be handling the fact that their mom abandoned them, remeber this: abandonment leaves deep scars that form deep rooted emotional hurts well into adulthood. I hope that you are giving your children the opportunity to go through therapy, with professionals, so that they may deal with this not only now, but in their future. Abandonment issues pop up in all kinds of intimate relationships unless it is healed.
Being a Mom of 2, I know that they are still at a very tender age, and do not have the skills yet to make out what is their true feelings and ideas. Do the best thing you can for them Bruce, and seek out therapy, no matter how long a time it takes to heal this.
Happy Mother’s Day!!

Ben Martin, THE FATHER LIFE May 11, 2009, 11:16 PM

Makes a lot of sense, at this stage in the game, to let your kids choose how they will maintain or not maintain a relationship with their birth mom. I agree with the last poster, though, that there is always potential for issues to remain lurking from her abandoning them; probably something worth keeping in mind and watching out for as they continue to grow into manhood.

Wendy May 12, 2009, 10:18 AM

Wow, anonymous, clearly has issues and didn’t get what Bruce is saying at all. What labels is she referring to? He is the stay-at-home mom so what’s the deal? Plus, he couldn’t have been more complimentary about his new wife and her role in his boy’s lives. Give me a break. And, Bruce, keep ‘em coming.

Susan May 13, 2009, 4:08 PM

I think it is important for you to help solidify a warm relationship between your boys and your new wife….it won’t be easy..but she sounds like the kind of person who will be there for them and eventually they will see her as a Mom…biology and blood are not everything…Good luck on your journey!

Valerie May 13, 2009, 5:25 PM

It might be a good idea to point out to your boys that it is a choice one makes to be a warm, loving, and involved parent…it’s not an accident of birth that makes one a “parent” in the truest sense of the word.

Anonymous May 13, 2009, 5:27 PM

It’s so nice to hear that your boys now have a warm and nurturing mother in their lives. While you may have done remarkably well as a single parent, children do best with a mother and a father. May you have continued good luck and Happy Mother’s Day!

kathy May 14, 2009, 3:50 AM

I remember being a single mom of three small boys and it was tough! I did pretty well and warm and fuzzy, not so well at structure and discipline.

When I married their step-father, although I was “Primary Parent” in the beginning, I learned a bunch……. little boys wear socks with their sneakers was only one of them. My boys bonded well, perhaps because they were ages 2, 3 and 5. Or was it 3, 4 and 6? Anyway, I think it was more due to the fact that their step-dad was THERE for them and their biological father had abandoned them, emotionally and financialy.

The story never ends, my second husband and I divorced when my sons were adolescents. He died when the boys were very young men. As the boys grew older, they each came to their own perspective. My eldest has no relationship with his biological father, my middle son still seeks love from his biological father and the youngest enjoys a reasonably good relationship with him. Each of them consider their step-father their Dad.

Hats off to you, Bruce! I have the feeling that you were a great Mr. Mom, and am happy to learn of Mrs. Mom.

Jaime May 14, 2009, 7:50 PM

It takes a special person, Man or Woman, to help raise and love someone else’s children. I give these people much credit because being a parent is the hardest and most underappreciated job one could ever have.

Jaime May 14, 2009, 7:50 PM

It takes a special person, Man or Woman, to help raise and love someone else’s children. I give these people much credit because being a parent is the hardest and most underappreciated job one could ever have.

JasonW May 21, 2009, 12:43 PM

To the “primary parent” slash labeling slash “robbing” threads: I am a recently divorced (now single) dad of two young girls and we share 50/50 “legal” and “physical” custody. However, anyone who’s been married and had children knows that the roles that you define IN the marriage seem to get magnified once you’re OUT of the marriage. For instance, my former spouse (when we were married) was certainly the one to take them shoe and clothes shopping, sign them up for programs like brownies and others. At the same time, even though I was the working parent, I often shared equally the taking/picking up from school, volunteered at their school, was the one who made sure homework and all schoolwork was getting done on time, communicated with the teachers… in actuality, I was often doing more than my share of parenting (and loved it all) along with being the bread winner. Now, and since we’ve been divorced, do you think that’s magnified or de-magnified? Exactly. There is ALWAYS a primary parent, one who really steps up to the plate and the other knows that they can depend on that. I’ve yet to see a perfectly harmonious and equal blend of involvement, general parenting and overall adult guidance in a marriage or divorce situation involving kids. If you know of one, I’d love to interview them and write a book about what they’ve done! Happy Memorial Day and enjoy every moment with your child, you have a lifetime to talk on the phone, sit at the computer, read and think yourself silly about the economic doom. Get on the floor and wrestle or play with them for even 20 minutes and watch how different they are. It’s my daily practice. I do not need a park, a play-place, candy, ice cream, anything else but my own person to really play with them and connect (even with the 10 year old). My best to you all, as mothers, fathers and parents.

Kathy June 5, 2009, 9:02 AM

I couldn’t agree more. Giving birth does not make one a parent. It is the people that nuture, serve as a role model and support the child that make the difference. You have taught the kids good values and they have reached out to their mother (and consistently get rejected).If she doesn’t respond she gets what she deserves—nothing.

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