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Stepmom's Soccer Game Showdown

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Stepbomb: So one minute the ex wants to sit next to me at a school event, and the next minute she's causing a scene at her daughter's soccer game. (So much for my theory that she wants the other moms to think we all play nice in the sandbox.)


The "scene" happened at my younger stepdaughter's soccer game. When we all arrived, my older stepdaughter and I walked over to say hi to some friends I'd made through my volunteer work at the school. My stepdaughter was also very giddy because the boy she had a crush on (who happened to be the son of one of my friends) was playing in the adjacent field.

Suddenly I hear, "X, come over here and sit by me -- now." My stepdaughter and I both turned our heads toward the ex, whose eyes were bugging out of her head. She. Was. Pissed. If looks could kill, well ... I'd be dead a couple times over. I instantly knew my "mistake": I had no right to be hanging out with my stepdaughter in front of those moms, because (gasp!) they might actually see that we have a good relationship.

I didn't talk to my stepdaughter for the rest of the game, and neither did my husband -- despite the fact that it was his birthday.

When it was over, I walked over to my stepdaughter and was starting to give her a hug when I heard the voice again. This time, it was sternly telling me that she and her daughter were leaving -- now. And then the ex grabbed her daughter's hand and pulled her away before we could even say goodbye. (It was her night with the girls.)

I didn't miss the stares from passersby. But I wish I'd missed my husband's face as he watched his daughter leave with the ex. And I thought, "It's becoming harder and harder to understand how the ex can be that insecure."

"Stepbomb" is a weekly column on written by a new stepmom. Check in next Wednesday for the latest installment.

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31 comments so far | Post a comment now
Samantha  July 28, 2010, 1:00 PM

insecure? more like flat-out evil and selfish to say the least…i’m so sorry you and your husband have to put up with that…

Anonymous July 28, 2010, 1:04 PM

As a previous step-mom and now a Mom while my ex has another girlfriend, I’d like to see an weekly column about a mom dealing with her ex’s new wife. There are two sides to every story.

MartiniMama July 28, 2010, 2:22 PM

How pathetic. Really. Shouldn’t it be about what is best for the kids? Just because her daughter has a good relationship with her step-daughter doesn’t mean that she loves her mom any less. Sheesh. Sounds to me like the whole family needs some counseling around how to relate to each other and get over this pettiness.

Anonymous July 28, 2010, 4:46 PM

I wish the ex had a column too. People aren’t evil and interactions between them are never a one-sided affair. Sorry, but they’re not.

KarenC July 28, 2010, 6:15 PM

As the child of not one but two divorces, I’d love a column from the ex-wife as well. All I’m getting from Stepbomb is one-sided “I’m perfect, she’s evvviiiil, don’t you agree? Huh? Huh??!!!”

Or maybe the writer just can’t see the forest for the trees. Reading through all the past columns reveals a pretty simple pattern-

Dad bails on his duties, step mom overcompensates and puts herself front-and-center so everyone can see she’s there (Hey! Look at me!), mom gets angry that stepmom is being a show-off while dad passively sits back and doesn’t do much at all.

This cycle isn’t going to end until dad steps up and starts actively parenting again. He’s the one who should be volunteering at the school.

N July 28, 2010, 11:57 PM

You know i don’t know if i can take your side stepbomb. The fact is while i’ve met good/great stepdads, i’ve never met or heard of a good stepmom from anyone i actually know. like they say two sides to every story. and i’m not sure why you have a blog on a parenting site i mean sure your a stepmom but you have no kids of your own and your not raising these girls b/c of an absentee mom

Sew Savvy Mom July 29, 2010, 7:33 AM

As a PP said I’d like to see a column from the ex wife . .I am currently the Ex and while everything I do is not ex-wife etiquette it’s not all apples and oranges on her side either. Apparently you have no idea what a divorce with kids can do to a family, and why you get off thinking the “ex” who’s you anything . .trust me insecurity is the last thing it’s about!

XXXX July 29, 2010, 8:42 AM

The father sound like a wimp to me.

Stepbomb July 29, 2010, 10:18 AM

Thank you everyone for your comments. They are appreciated! A few points of clarification.

@Sew Savvy Mom- I actually do have a very good idea of what divorce can do to a family as my parents divorced when I was 10. I’ve had a stepmom for many years and watched and learned from things she did right and things she did wrong. As well as I learned from many things my biological mother did right and wrong.

I must ask you- If it’s not insecurity that’s driving the ex’s anger, what is it? What should I have done differently at that soccer game?

Stepbomb July 29, 2010, 10:24 AM

@N- To say that you’ve never heard of a good stepmom is incredibly sad. My own stepmother is a very good stepmom and I also believe that I am a good stepmom.

Stepbomb July 29, 2010, 10:26 AM


I assure you that the girls’ father is a great father. And a great man.

Stepbomb July 29, 2010, 10:29 AM

I also agree with everyone that said there are two sides to every story. I do my best to present the story as accurately as possible, but of course it’s based on my perception. It’s been a challenging situation for ALL of us- including the ex- and I can only hope that things get better. But I do appreciate everyone’s comments and must say that they’ve helped me as I’ve had to make other decisions involving the kids/the ex. So thank you!

Anonymous July 29, 2010, 10:20 PM

I don’t get so many hateful comments on here! Even if there are two sides to every story thsi could be the way it actually happened. My best friends mom did this. The mom hated the fact that the step mom was in her life and that the two actually got along. my friend was constantly crying because she didn’t know what to do. Stepbomb at the end of the day I think if you love the kids and keep them in mind, the kids will see what’s going on. If you feel they are mature enough it seems to me that you or your husband or both need to ask the kids what you can do to make this situation better? If they are old/mature enough they could really help ease the situation.

Leah July 30, 2010, 5:40 AM

Mom sounds crazy and the Stepmom sounds like she’s trying to be that cool-show-off-we’re-friends-because-I’m-the-“cool”-mom. I feel bad for the kid!!

I also agree with the poster who said she’s like a column hearnig the mom’s side since tis reaction can’t be coming out of nowhere.

Carrie July 30, 2010, 5:43 AM

KarenC - I think you hit the nail on the head. Dad apparently bails on everything and leaves it the mom & stepmom to duke it out. I mean why was step mom the one walking around with the stepdaughter - that should have been mom & dad. Also agree with the poster who said sounds like stepbomb wants everyone to think she’s perfect and the mom is evil. I just can’t buy it - something is coming from the dad/stepmom side as well.

Stepbomb July 30, 2010, 9:53 AM

@Carrie- dad was with his other daughter warming up for the game.

@Leah- I would honestly tell you if I had provoked something at that game. It serves me no purpose to tell a slanted story. Of course this is based on my perceptions so there is some built in bias, but I really do my best to give you all an accurate portrayal as I’m looking for everyone’s feedback on this situation. The bottom line is that she seems to get angry if I do anything with the children in public.

Nicola July 30, 2010, 12:12 PM

Just try and keep a level head and do what’s best for the kids- which is being a loving, supportive stepmom. There’s nothing you can do if the mother is just angry. However, I might have dad try to run a little more interference when possible.

Joellle4 July 30, 2010, 3:06 PM

I think to figure out what you did wrong at the game to ‘provoke’ mom, you have to step back a few months prior.

First, take a deep breath and… drop the martyr act. It’s painful to admit when you’re playing poor, pitiful wounded soul, and it’s kind of oozing out of you. I say this for your own good and not to be hurtful.

Your stepkids are going to pick up on your attitude and intuit that Mommy is bad and mean and unreasonable. Kids shouldn’t have to pick sides, and your wounded attitude is going to do that for them.

Second, ask yourself, “If I weren’t in the equation, what would my husband do at this event? If I weren’t here, and his daughter had a conference, would he blow it off and go to work? Or would he take time off if it was that important to him and handle it himself?”

“If I weren’t here, would my husband have written a note to his ex-wife explaining the Easter Bunny issue? Or would he have found a way to handle that himself without my hand-holding?”

If you weren’t there, dad wouldn’t rely on you as a crutch to get out of doing dad-related stuff.

You say he was off warming up with his other daughter, but if you weren’t there, his second kid would have been at his side too, or walking with her mom since she was there. She would have, in other words, been parented. By her actual parents.

Getting visibly and publicly buddy-buddy with all the moms you’ve met volunteering at school, and chillin’ with them at the soccer field, and walking around like besties with stepkid, is just throwing salt in the wounds of mom. Expecting mom to be cool with that is acting like a martyr.

Stepkids don’t have two absentee parents. They have a functioning, involved mom and a dad who keeps dropping the buck and passing things off to you, a third party.

So if you’re asking what you could do to stop provoking mom, step back and led dad parent. Definitely love your stepkids, but be adult enough to take a passive back seat, especially in public, so that mom and dad can parent together.

anonymous July 31, 2010, 8:36 AM

There’s a lot of good advice and comments here. We definitely aren’t hearing both sides of the story. KarenC, Carrie, Nicola, and Joelle 4 all have great advice for stepbomb. The dad may be a good dad and stepbomb may be a good stepmom, but the solution is still for stepbomb to back off and let the parents take care of the kids.
I’m a little confused, but I think what is happening here is that the parents are transferring the kids from one house to the other at a soccer game. So the kids come with the dad and leave with the mom and in between they are in both parent’s custody. Maybe that is part of the problem. In any case, I think the mom’s feelings should be respected here - when the kids aren’t with the dad, they should be with their mom. Being a good stepmother doesn’t mean acting like a good mom or a good aunt/adult pal. It means strengthening the kids’ relationships with their parents. Now that you know it bothers their mom, why put the kids in the position of being called over to hang out with her? If you can’t find something else to do during soccer games (really, they have two parents there, they don’t need you to go), then bring her over to her mom when mom arrives.
Also, I think it’s really time for stepbomb to stop volunteering at the kids’ school. You already know that the mom doesn’t want you to do it. Pushing your right to volunteer looks like you do want to be a replacement mom.

anonymous August 1, 2010, 10:24 AM

@stepbomb - “If it’s not insecurity, what is it” and what should I do/have done?
I think we can all agree that the mom is insecure and afraid that you will in some way replace her with the daughters. The question is why - is she just crazy or is it based on something you or your husband did? For example, she and her husband are divorced, so they probably argued about how to raise the children. Perhaps he has told her in the past that she was a bad mother. People can get pretty mean in a divorce.
Perhaps he is the fun parent to be with because he has more money than she does or is more playful/less responsible (lots of dads are like that from the moms point of view).
Perhaps their friends or neighbors took her husband’s side in the divorce. Perhaps her daughters are at an age where they argue with her all the time. Perhaps she is having trouble parenting as well as she would like to now that they are divorced.
And, although you love him and still think he hung the moon, a lot of fathers leave most of the child care up to the moms. Some fathers continue to do that after the divorce. If he did that and now he is getting you to step in and do his half of the care, she might reasonably resent it.
Perhaps you and your husband share values about parenting and perhaps they are different from hers, so she feels judged. Perhaps you don’t think she is a good parent and she knows it. (Of course, at this point, you don’t think she’s a good parent.)
Perhaps your idea of being a good, loving stepmom looks to her like trying to be the kid’s mom - you go to parent-teacher meetings and soccer games, you volunteer in the schools and make friends with the PTA moms (her friends?), and you want to be available to talk to the children about their problems when they are at your house.

It would have been good if you had not gone to the parent-teacher meeting for your husband. That was his job and you shouldn’t be picking it up. You shouldn’t have volunteered once you knew she didn’t want to and you should still back out and let her know nicely that you didn’t mean to step on her toes.

Knowing what to do now is much harder. I think you have to start with the idea that she doesn’t want to see you acting at all friendly with her kids. I would avoid being in the same place as her as much as possible. Then try to accept that you really aren’t the kids’ mother and they have two parents. You don’t need to get involved with their lives and act like a supportive mom. Get your husband to take care of his kids and deal with his wife. Make sure that when he has his children, you give them some time alone with them. Avoid conflicts with her for the sake of the children and focus on your new life with your husband. Get involved with your own job and new friends instead of her mom friends/community.

You might want to check out the book Smart Stepmothers. The author is religious, but if you don’t share her religion, you can read past those parts.

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