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Hubby's Ex Doesn't Like Me to Volunteer in Kids' Class!

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Stepbomb: Have you ever thought you were doing something fantastic, but it turned out to be a freakin' disaster? Well, that was me when I naively stepped foot onto the linoleum floor of my stepchildren's school. Now, I want you to picture Linda Blair in "The Exorcist." Well, that was my husband's ex-wife when she saw me signing up to volunteer in the children's classrooms.

classroom chalk board

When my husband asked me to attend the orientation night at the school because he was going to be out of town, I jumped at the chance. It would give me an opportunity to get acquainted with the children's teachers, the principal and the other parents -- and to sign up to volunteer, which would be a great thing, right? WRONG. Who knew that my wanting to go on a field trip to a petting zoo would send my husband's ex into a tailspin that made Lindsay Lohan's fall from the A-list to the D-list look tame?!

What happened next was enough to make me feel I'd just moved to the Seventh Circle of Hell, not the 'burbs. First? The ex did a slow drive-by of my house that was reminiscent of a scene from "Boyz N the Hood." (Thankfully, no Uzi was produced.) Next? A threatening letter from the law offices of F-U, F-U and F-U Some More was sent to the school, suggesting that I should not be allowed to volunteer there. Last? A voicemail that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

I did end up volunteering in the school. Maybe it's just me, but the ex's threats and bullying tactics didn't motivate me to want to empathize with her feelings of insecurity. The next time she has "concerns" about my involvement in the children's lives, I hope that instead of retaining a lawyer, she'll try a tactic I'll respond to: actually talking to me.

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31 comments so far | Post a comment now
Pamala July 7, 2010, 7:49 AM

Good for you! The ex needs to realize that the more people involved and invested in the welfare of her children, the better and more loved they will feel. So keep up the good work because it’s rare to see a step-parent so involved and willing to do those things.

Anonymous July 7, 2010, 8:17 AM

You’re doing the wrong thing!!! Of course the ex shouldn’t care if you volunteer, but she does. For the sake of the children back off already. Right now the ex is worried that you will replace her in her children’s lives. The best thing you can do is to reassure her that of course you won’t.

Anonymous July 7, 2010, 8:55 AM

“I hope instead of retaining a lawyer, she’ll try a tactic I’ll respond to — actually talking to me.” Two way street my dear. You may be doing a good thing but a line of communication is a must. Pick up the phone.

Kristen July 7, 2010, 9:05 AM

You know before this mom become an ex, she had some security of an extra income(the husband) so she could either stay at home OR take days off work to attend these things with her children, now that may not be the case and she feels that you might usurp her in her children’s lives. I know that would be extremely difficult for me to handle and plenty of other women. The route she took was not appropriate but I do understand her worries and fears. I think more talking needs to be done in this situation.

beth July 7, 2010, 2:51 PM

i feel your pain! my stepdaughter isn’t in school yet but my husband’s ex tries to “win” him back and puts me down. She even went as far as to say she didn’t want me to do her daughter’s laundry. I thought i was doing a nice thing by sending her back with clean clothes but i guess i was wrong! i think it’s great that you are so willing to volunteer. Try to remember she may be feeling left out or like you are trying to take her place, i would say talk to her but i know how difficult that can be with someone as angry as that. you could try writing a letter/ e mail (ALWAYS save a copy in case she tries to pull something) explaining to her that you aren’t trying to take her place and just want what’s best for the kids, it also helps to mention what a great mom she is and that you would never even try to take her place. that might help. best of luck, keep us posted!

MartiniMama July 7, 2010, 5:11 PM

I think you did the right thing. She needs to learn that her bullying tactics and lawyering up aren’t going to make you back down. I have many divorced friends, and I have to say that they behave in a civilized manner towards each other, and their new spouses for the sake of the kids. The only thing this ex is doing is making herself look the fool, I am sorry to say. She is her kids’ MOM and you will never “replace” her. She needs to work on her relationship with her kids, and stop trying to bully you and their father. I do feel sorry for her, because she is obviously extremely insecure, but you can’t change that.

I do agree with the poster who says that communication is a two-way street. Maybe you should try to talk to her about the situation and come to some ground-rules/agreement that makes you both comfortable. It might be a good idea to use a mediator to do that, rather than going it alone however - she sounds like she would likely twist anything you say to her or view it in a threatening way. The presence of a neutral third party could help her see things differently.

XXXX July 7, 2010, 5:36 PM

tell the ex to f*** off!

anonymous July 7, 2010, 7:03 PM

@MartiniMama - Teaching the mother a lesson isn’t the important thing here. Insisting on your right to volunteer is just keeping the cycle of anger going. Somebody has to start acting civilized.

If you volunteer when the mom doesn’t want you to, it’s clear that you’re not doing it to be nice and helpful. It also puts the kids in the middle of a nasty argument. Stepbomb can blame the mom for starting it, but it takes two to have a tug of war. Someone has to care more about the kids than her ego!!!

Jewel July 7, 2010, 8:10 PM

Actually I totally agree with the natural mother in this case.
Her, “insecurity” has nothing to do with it. She’s the mom, you’re not. Unless the children asked you to be there then you should back off.

If my daughter’s step-mother tried to volunteer at her school I’d petition the court to make sure she couldn’t.

Maniacal Mom July 7, 2010, 8:12 PM

Okay…so I am in this situation sort of. I am the mom, and the kids have a stepmom. I am totally game for her volunteering. In fact, I went to the school for her when they messed up her security clearance and convinced them to let her volunteer at Christmas.
What frustrates the hell out of me is that I am a very involved mom. I volunteer, I do teacher support. I attend ALL parent teacher meetings.
She does too. SHE DOES NOT NEED TO BE AT PARENT TEACHER MEETINGS. I go, the ex goes. There is no need for her to be there.
If I was a lackluster mom, or absent, then fill your boots lady…but for now, I am THE mom and I do everything that is needed and beyond need for my kids. She needs to get a better sense of her role in my kids lives. She needs to realize that I am still the mom and I deserve that place in my kids lives. She needs to develop some appropriate boundaries.

Mo July 8, 2010, 7:54 AM

I entered my step-children’s lives when they were 4 and 5(they are 15 and 16 now). The first year I stayed in the background when their Mother was around. I wanted to make sure I was going to be around before really forming bonds with the girls. The day after our year anniversary I called her directly and said I’d like to talk to her about the girls. She always expressed jealous of my relationship with her ex, and had no problems expressing it. I told her that there would be no point in acting like ghetto ‘Baby Mommas’ and both of us want what is good for her girls. By my approach OUR relationship changed, sometimes I would get the call before my former husband

Mo July 8, 2010, 7:59 AM

I entered my step-children’s lives when they were 4 and 5(they are 15 and 16 now). The first year I stayed in the background when their Mother was around. I wanted to make sure I was going to be around before really forming bonds with the girls. The day after our year anniversary I called her directly and said I’d like to talk to her about the girls. She always expressed jealous of my relationship with her ex, and had no problems expressing it. I told her that there would be no point in acting like ghetto ‘Baby Mommas’ and both of us want what is good for her girls. By my approach OUR relationship changed, sometimes I would get the call before my former husband regarding the girls. Parent-Teacher conferences always involved Mommy Daddy and Moemie(nickname is Mo). My ex husband and I divorced and my kids Mother called me and told me ‘no matter what is going on between you and him, please don’t leave the girls lives’. I had to put the phone down and let the tears fall. My girls in all their teen-aged glory call me every day and I get a pic of the outfit of the day(gotta love teens). What I’m saying is communication is a key in these situations. Both parties have to be willing to think of the children and not themselves.

Stepbomb July 8, 2010, 9:51 AM

Thank you to everyone for your comments. It’s VERY helpful to hear from mothers as well as stepmothers.

Jewel- I hear what you are saying. And you’re not the first person to have that advice. However, what makes it challenging, is the children DID ask me to volunteer. And I have already volunteered. Now I’m conflicted about suddenly NOT volunteering. I really want to do what is best for THEM. I do. This has been such a challenging situation in so many ways… If I stop volunteering, what do I tell them is the reason?

Lucida July 8, 2010, 12:20 PM

No matter how unreasonable the bioMom is, Stepbomb should have asked bioMom if she was ok with her volunteering in the classroom. bioMom didn’t handle the situation right at all but clearly she was not asked if she was ok with it. If she isn’t ok with you volunteering, don’t volunteer. It doesn’t matter what the kids want until their mom is ok with it. Your ego shouldn’t trump mom’s wishes. She has already lost the family that she knows (doesn’t matter if she caused it) & now she has to deal with her children loving and liking another woman. That wouldn’t be easy for anyone.

Lucida July 8, 2010, 12:29 PM

What’s best for the children is that you respect their mother. You are trying to make this about disappointing the children when in fact somebody needs to make the bioMom comfortable. Sure! She is probably selfish and unreasonable but put yourself in her shoes. She has to feel like she is losing her connection to and with her children if they want you around. That would make any woman a little crazy. I’m sure bioMom is wondering what other parents are saying about your presence at the school. Are they questioning her parenting abilities? It might not make sense but those are real emotions. Just step back, put your ego aside and involve yourself in the children’s lives when they are in your home; not on common turf where their mom is the PARENT.

mom2two July 9, 2010, 2:29 PM

I am the biomom and my son has a stepmom who I get along with. I think that what you are doing is great. The children have asked you to volunteer (from your response post) so it shows that you are doing this for the children not to try and replace their mother. It seems from the article that from her reaction to the situation she obviously has deeper emotional issues. There is no reason at all fro her to get a lwyer to try and stop you from volunteering at the school. The schools these days need as much help as they can get so I am sure that there are plenty of opportunities for you both to volunteer and never have to see each other at all. Nor does it have to seem like you are taking over or trying to replace her. I applaud you for taking such a positive role in your stepchildrens lives. I have always believed that our kids can only benefit from us working together. You are doing a great job.

amom July 11, 2010, 6:17 AM

From your post, you stated that your husband asked you to go to the school in his absence ~ not the child. I say that it’s very nice that you want to be and volunteer but you need to respect the mother and back off. The child is not your child ~ you are just your husband’s wife in relation to the child.
If you do decide not to volunteer out of respect for the mother, I would just tell the child that his/her mother would rather do the volunteering. Don’t present her in a negative light, though, because that will make you the bad guy. Love the child, care for the child ~ but back off when the mother says to back off. (Although I will say that I DON’T agree with the way the mother handled it AT ALL.)

Michele July 11, 2010, 7:18 AM

They were not your children, so you had no business volunteering for anything.

Sarah July 12, 2010, 1:13 AM

It is sweet that you wanted to help and be more involved in the kids lives - but you have placed them in a horrible situation. Any stepparent must be careful to not try to replace a bioparent, it is disrespectful of that parent and makes the kids feel like a toy and the parents the kids who won’t share on the playground. Yes biomom handled it inappropriately, but you did not consider how she would view your extra involvement. The burden of communication was on your first, then her for not handling it well. It may also effect the relationship between biomom and the kids - she is still their mother and by disrespecting her (albeit unintentionally) you will never have a healthy relationship with her.

Leslie July 12, 2010, 1:16 AM

I pity these kids, a crazy biomom and a disrepsectful and egomaniacal stepmom. You cannot say she should have talked to you when it did not occur to you to do the same thing. In her eyes, your volunteering may have been just as scary and rude as her later actions.

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