I'm not a huge believer in New Year's resolutions, but 2010 seems like a good year to start.
Wife #2: One reason: my two stepchildren. Don't get me wrong: I'm no stepmonster. I love those kids like I Iove my biological children. And I do everything I can to make our big, blended family as happy and comfortable as possible. But this year, I want to do better.
As many of you reading this may already know, Patrick and I left our spouses for each other. Years have passed since the initial blow, and so has some of the hurt and craziness. But not enough. Not by a long shot.
Overall, our five kids are doing well. They understand they're loved by everyone, in all their homes. They're building buddy systems based on the fun and the hurt of our collective experience. All things considered, we're clearly doing at least a lot of it right. But there are still more days than I'd like when my stepchildren feel like threatening little thunder clouds on an otherwise happy horizon. They're rude to me. They treat me with disdain, throwing their clothes on the floor and silently challenging me to do anything about it. It's like a terrible case of unrequited love. I can't help but love them even when they don't seem to want or deserve it.
So here's MY resolution: this year, I'm going to try to see the world more through their eyes. After all, as beloved Husband #2 reminds me, they didn't ask for this. They are good kids who sometimes behave badly because of a tough situation that we, the adults, put them in.
Rather than be hurt and angry when they're disrespectful, I'm going to try to understand where that comes from and then react appropriately. I need to enforce the rules of our household -- be a parent rather than a pal. No excuses for them or me.
Now here's where HER resolution comes in: Wife #1 needs to stop using her kids as weapons of divorce destruction.
Plenty of you out there probably think I have some nerve suggesting what his ex should be doing in the self-improvement department. Before you jump down my digital throat, consider this: I'm in a pretty unique position to comment since I witness the carnage every week.
Just a few quick examples:
Our grade schooler, who adores his dad, had to cross the baseball field in front of the entire team and ask his father to leave the game because "it's making mommy mad." Would that be mommy or Mommy Dearest?
And here's a helpful explanation she offered up to her children: "Daddy isn't your daddy anymore because he's left you to be the daddy to Wife #2's kids." This about a man who supports all the children -- and his ex -- emotionally and financially. And when I say financially -- she doesn't have to work another day in her life.
Then there's the relentless divide-and-conquer campaign. Families the kids have known for years won't arrange playdates on our weekends because it would be "disloyal" to Wife #1. Who exactly are the grown-ups here?
Does she honestly think it's good for her kids when she doesn't let them say hello to their father in front of her? Does yanking the kids across the street when she runs into us in town really send the right parenting message? And could she truly want their childhood memories marred by her shrill voice as a permanent echo trashing their father within earshot of anyone willing to listen?
The Clue Phone is ringing, Wife #1. And it's for you.
Grow up. Using your kids to get back at your husband is a destructive cliche.
He did the first horribly hurtful thing. He left you for me. But that doesn't give you a free pass to hurt your kids indefinitely.
|Wife #2 is a writer, mom, and expert on what happens when you scorch the earth and leave your husband. She and the love of her life (the guy she left FOR) spend most of their time raising their blended family of five kids and trying to avoid grenades lobbed by their ex-spouses. Her hobbies include reading, working out, and occasionally blowing off steam with faithful girlfriends who understand life is too damn short to be miserable!|