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.
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
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.