My heart ached for her for a moment. Having been through adolescence with one son, I had learned better ways to deal with it. Not having children of her own, she was as helpless as I had been the first time. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
My frozen heart started to thaw slightly, but for the most part I kept my heels dug in. One day I was complaining to a friend about her. My friend shook her head and said, "Have a little pity for her. I wouldn't want you to be the mother of my stepchildren. You're a hard act to follow." Hearing those words made the world feel as though it had been out of focus and was suddenly becoming clear.
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What was it like to be her? What was it like to walk into an existing family and make a place for yourself? What would it be like to establish yourself with children who already have a mother, that they love?
Finally, it started dawning on me that she wasn't in an easy position. If I felt threatened, how could she possibly feel? What could it possibly be like to mother two children who would never be hers?
Standing at the curb the day they left, I looked into the face of the woman in my seat. She looked different to me now. Not the devious Cruella DeVille I once imagined her to be. She was a woman, like me, struggling to make a happy life for herself.
She was a woman, like me, with strengths, weaknesses, successes and defeats. I reflected on our journey and knew that I'd come a long way. There was so much I had learned.
I learned that we are not in a competition. We can both have a relationship with the boys and the quality of one will not detract from the quality of the other. I don't have to compete for their love, as if there is a finite amount that will be split between us. In fact, I've learned that the more I accept and embrace her, the more my children will love me. Love creates love. How To Help Your Kids Cope With Your Divorce
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I've also learned that no one ever takes the place of a mom in a child's heart. When I remember that, I have compassion for the woman in my seat. As much as they love her, she will never be their mother.