I’m in need of advice. The ex and I have been divorced for a year and a half. Usual story, he cheated with a coworker, denied it, filed for divorce, didn’t see the kids much, married her straight after our divorce, filed for childcare arrangement (we are in the UK), had twins with her — marriage, childcare and kids all happened in a year!
Lots to adjust to for me and the kids. Oh and he was a successful narc — he hid the money and now has a mansion with pool, etc.
Anyway, my question is related to the affair partner’s role as stepmother. My son is joining a new school in September and I’m the one who has done the hard work — the homework, taking him to assessments and the application, etc. He is 5. He was offered a place and we accepted. It’s one of the best schools in the country. We had an induction meeting for parents last week and he brought her. She’s now on the mum’s WhatsApp group and will be at meetings/events/ maybe birthdays.
Ugh. Makes me anxious.
Ex and I are back at mediation next week to sort issues like this out… he’s been asking my son to call her mummy too.
My question is what the hell do I do with someone with no boundaries?! Wasn’t it enough to ruin my marriage? Why are they so awful?
P.S. My chump friends say let it go… she’s going to be in their lives. I can’t find much information on a stepmother who was an affair partner. Makes me feel more of a chump!
Dear Dr. C,
Oh geez. I guess you’re supposed to just accept your obsolescence. He’s swapped out one set of Wife And Children™ for another. Please go sit in the drawer where we keep the old phone chargers.
Look, your five year old knows who mummy is and it’s you. That’s primal. It’s not going to change because some numbskull demands it.
The shit sandwich for your children is that the price of admission to see Dad is tolerate the wifetress and family 2.0. It’s a sucky position for them to be in. Best case scenario, she’s decent to them. Then they come home to you, the Sane Parent. The person who loves them unreservedly. The stable parent who doesn’t swap out families like smoke detector batteries.
Be confident as Sane Parent. She can call herself Queen Sheba of the Desert, doesn’t make it so. Also, it’s interesting that it’s your ex who’s making this request. Pick me dance, everyone! He gets a contact kibble high if you take offense, and bonus kibbles for making OW swear fealty to his other offspring. Who’s at the center of all this baby mama drama? Him.
She just had twins. I’m sure the last thing she wants in this moment is more motherhood. Of course it’s absolutely galling that you’re doing all the Sane Parent work of getting your son into school and they want to swan in for the glory. But that’s how FWs roll. Expect this for EVERYTHING. And just remember — kids know who the show up parent is.
She just won total vulnerability to a FW. It rarely ends well. She probably has leaky tits and an abdomen of silly putty and she’s having to keep his dick tethered. If he says, “Be Mummy to my first family,” she’ll sew the matching pinafores. Her pick me dance game has to be tops.
You, however, are free of that crap. Don’t let them rattle you. Go into that mediation all business-like. Document everything you do. And don’t take the bait on hot-button bullshit like calling OW “Mummy.”
Because a) you don’t control it. What goes on at their house, you can’t police and it will make you sick trying. The court only cares if it rises to the level of endangerment, abuse, or addiction. (And even then… we have some horror stories in these trenches.) Set the bar low, like “my kids come home alive.” I’m serious, this is how I got through 14 years of custody drop-offs. If she thrills to the minutia of kindergarten, let her make the cupcakes. I seriously doubt she can sustain that, or wants to.
And remember: b) “Mummy” is designed to rattle you. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Being horrible to you is foreplay for FWs. It keeps the triangle alive. Refuse to be their hypotenuse. You have a life, they’re not in it. Do not be goaded into a role of Crazy, Bitter Ex Who Can’t Get Over the Wonderfulness of Him. When they make stupid requests and play stupid games, just look at them with benevolent bafflement, tinged with pity.
Maybe hand the OW a breast pad for her leaky tits. It’s hard to be her.
Opening the floor up now for all the CN members who’ve co-parenting with FWs. How did you guys navigate the nonsense?