Skip to main content

P33ish061: Biological Mom, Step Mom, And The Fine Lines...

There was a question on Diary Of A Naija Girl's twitter page during the weekend where a mom shared her upset about her daughter, with whom she'd had nine straight years alone, developing a bond with her stepmom and trusting her with stuff she hitherto would have brought to her mom, including the fact that said daughter had her period for the first time whilst at her dad's, and the stepmom was the one who helped her through it; with the mom having no idea that her daughter had even begun menstruating until she found a pack sanitary napkins while cleaning the daughter's room. Mom of course got sad-mad about the discovery and got on the phone with the stepmom and unleashed, because she felt they should have sent her baby home to her on discovering her first menstrual period was upon her, since it should be she who helped her daughter through such a significant milestone. She asked for opinion on how to get her daughter back, so to speak, because it was starting to look like her daughter now had an alternative to her and it cuts to not know how to go back to being her daughter's number one.

Reading that made me feel sad for this mom's situation: I felt her angst. Especially if you consider her backstory where the dad had only just recently become involved in the child's care/upkeep in more than name only. So naturally, it would put thoughts in her head when her daughter starts to prefer spending more time at said dad's than hers, and even more so when she starts buddying up so tight with the dad's wife to the point where mommy no longer gets 'tell first' privileges.

There were many opinions under the tweet, the bulk of which centered on the mom calling the daughter and very clearly clueing her in on how hurt she was about now being the last to be told things. There also were those who felt that the stepmom needed to be firmly called out for overstepping by not sending the girl home so she at least shares that milestone with her own mom. I understood all of that too. But there just are situations on which you can't hold unyielding positions until you've lived them.

The line between being accommodating to a stepchild and encroaching on their still living mom/dad's space is a very fine one, you see, so yeah it takes a careful third eye to not miss it. But it was my opinion that this stepmom didn't exactly do anything that can be termed wrong, it's all just an altogether sketchy situation where you're trying to cross a minefield while avoiding getting shot in the head at the same time. Because if your husband's daughter sees her monthly period for the first time while at your house, you of course promptly supply tampons and guide her through it, what else? She couldn't just up and tell the girl to go be with her mom, like, right away; only person who could have made that call with no undertones assigned was the dad. Because it gets tricky: she could have told the girl she needed to start going home now because her first period was here, and the girl could have decoded that information the wrong way, like, "oh so because she's not my mom she can't be bothered to help me..." blah blah. The stepmom definitely wouldn't have recovered from that -- in the girl's head. Neither would their relationship. And what else do you know, if the stepmom had judged that situation wrongly (not that there was any particular way she could have judged it without offending any party, mind you), it could also have been hell to pay with her husband--the girl's dad.

See, these arrangements are super tricky, and I say this as a mom who's had to form a bond with my son's stepmom too, and I tell you, that stepmom position is a nervous one all in itself--and we've never even had a situation. You just almost can never bank on winning with your husband's ex over the child that they made, a child for whom she's the primary custodian; so your only safe landing is overcompensating. Because you also don't want to be why the child can't feel at home with his/her own father.

Another thing, you know that conviction with which we are always swearing on how smart kids are? Yeah, they are even way smarter than we'd bet. And nobody calculates situations like single parent/blended family kids, which is why every split parent who knows their parenting makes their kids the first judge of whoever they're getting with next; and these kids, especially the grown ones? They know their power. They know that you, the next, know that how well you balance with their mom/dad depends on their approval and subsequent rapport with you. And trust me when I say they will milk that vulnerability, because children like security too, and you better come wearing it. And your only prayer is that they judge (and subsequently take to) you well. It is a generally good thing when they take to you well, though, and it will now be dependent on you to not encroach on a space that is not yours; especially when the rightful owner of that space, mom or dad, does a fine job of keeping it. But honestly, how do you even know when you're not like a serial step-parent who's had tons of practice?

So in this situation with this stepmom, I think she didn't do anything wrong per se; she only came through for her gained daughter in a time of need: a hit, if you ask me. The only bite was not making the girl get on the phone to share the milestone moment with her mom; because when your stepchild cozies up to you that tight, it is on you to insert their mom/dad into conversations that you--and you would--know you shouldn't get hear-first privileges on. But honestly, who gets these things right on first try, huh? And then again, there was no winning for this stepmom whichever way she'd swung in this situation, it was a precarious one, and it could have dangled here or there: she could have sent the girl home before she was ready to leave and find herself in an evil stepmother "sent me away" situation with the child; or found herself in a "so what if her mom didn't live close/what if she's ours both" situation with her husband; or of course "she overstepped and helped my daughter through an important milestone while I'm still alive" situation, which she got, with the mom.

Bottom line, step-parents (who give a shit) will always have a tendency to overcompensate; because it comes with the terrain, and this will often put them in situations where they're perceived to have overstepped. But let's just be honest here and admit that overcompensating will always be a better option than all its existing opposites in blended family situations.

But for a parent in situations as this one on DANG, where you're starting to feel like the other woman/man in your kid's life because of a bond she's building with the step--a bond which is now taking away from the one you both share, you can not take it up with the step; just don't. Them deciding to "leave your child for you to avoid trouble" will not translate well, because the fact that they share a space in your child's life means that situations will always arise in your child's unique journey where only one of you can be there to help. And if you take a deep breath and pause for a second, you'll find that this is a blessing; your child has two homes now: you must want him/her to get the home feeling and treatment too. I would say taking it up with the child is a better option, depending on maturity/understanding; but you want to choose your words well and clearly, too, because you do not want to put your child in a who's-more-likely-to-make-me-feel-bad-about-this push/pull situation that shoves them further in the direction you're trying to pull them back from.

You also of course very honestly want to be certain that you're not acting out all threatened like you are because you think that your Ex (and by extension their partner) doesn't deserve to hold that much valued space with your child because it'd been "just us all this time. I was there when you weren't!"

Breathe mommy, your baby will always come back 'home' you. 😊

A key point to note, though: kids at a certain age generally tend to prefer to trust certain details to people to whom they are the least accountable, like a step parent who they know favors them; because the automatic "good step-parent" predisposition is to want to stay in the child's good graces; so firm rebukes will often be ditched for subtle gentle guidance. And this is still a good thing for your child to have...I think.

But if you truly do feel you're losing your space in your child's life to their step-parent, then you want to talk to their other parent (your ex), because they are the only one who can restore the balance you're losing by ensuring that your child doesn't leave you out of important conversations.



Popular posts from this blog

P33ish065: Silent Treatment II - The Art Of Silence, By K.W.C

Guess who decided to guest-blog and provide some male perspective on Page33ish this weekend?? My retired twin (find him here). He does it with a "RE" to the Silent Treatment article too and I liked it, but of course I am biased; you read first and let's see how you like his voice.

By the way, I turned on the 'anonymous' feature in the comment section so at least those of you who don't "like to comment on blogs" could please leave him a kind feedback, pretty please...please? I mean, who knows, a comment or two might just make him pick on a few other articles to spin off on. But enjoy this one first!

P33ish050: Progress, Perfection, And The Art Of Intentional Loving

I love love. I love it as an intentional decision. I love it as a repeated unwavering choice. Deliberate love is a gift. It is life itself. But life is getting harder by the day. What with love becoming more conditional and intentions getting less trusted. We actually now live (or maybe it's me who's just now catching up) in a world where people extra scrutinize a genuine in-the-moment kind act and are usually just taking an intentionally good gesture with bated breath for when the mask falls off. But hey, trust issues aside now, nobody really wants to see what's behind that put-together exterior, don't matter what they say. And "living your truth" has now become more of a slogan than an actual lifestyle because your lovers don't really wanna see your truth. They can't handle it. Force 'em to hear it and folks might even stone you for it. People want to be a part of your life without your demons or your suitcase of issues. But of course, they'…

P33ish073: Confessions Of A Man Whore - Korede Sins


The mind of a young boy can be filled with fantasies too lofty for his head and mine was no different, add that to being a 'fine' boy, and here's what you have.

Back at school, girls would drool over and daydream about me -- not that many of them had the guts to walk up to me and make their orders off my menu; I just heard these things from friends and mates alike. Not that it would have mattered, though, because I had been in a serious relationship which hadn't hit the rock until the end of our second year so I had some big issues stemming from the love of my life leaving me because I was, in her words, a "no way." By the start of year three, though, I had just one mission: to prove my ex wrong.

Upon resumption, I made a new friend, Tola; and thanks to our shared love of music, something she was planning to build a career in, we hit it right off. And then there was my guts which she admitted fancying.

P33ish067: Reflections - Hello December, Goodbye 2019

Say "Hi" if this hadn't been the 2019 you ordered too...?

'Cause there has to be a manager we could talk to about product quality, dammit!

God, this year has been IT! A really crazy it, because it started out so beautifully. So so beautifully. And then it was as though I took a test and failed. Or maybe it was that I took too many things for granted and wasn't thankful enough, or fussing when I shoulda been nursing or whatever. Because just like that, (almost) everything went to shits. And Lord, how I'm still here and able to stay standing, is a miracle I'll never take for granted. Because this year demanded my very life. Almost got it too.

P33ish042: Movie Review - Kemi Adetiba's King Of Boys

The first thing I thought of as Alhaja Salami walked into that room where her goons were holding the bleeding man was Ghost walking into the basement at TRUTH in the pilot episode of Power season one. It just so happened that both characters had left their parties to do the same thing: be evil. I loved the precision in the similarity. It was just so...there; from the 'who you working for', to the language switch, and the blood on the shirt/ipele ish, right down to the bleeding guy's refusal to snitch on who he'd been working for. You better holler at your girl if you caught that math too, TV people.

Despite being a godfatherism/dog-eat-dog story—not unlike many before it—that chronicles the rise-fall-and-whatever-else-followed of the protagonist, Eniola Salami (Sola Sobowale), I think that what takes King Of Boys off the 'typical' list is its realism: that good or evil isn't absolute; that if the line must be drawn, then sometimes 'evil' wins; that …

P33ish047: #WorldMentalHealthDay - Confessions Of A Survivor

I didn't realize how emotionally dependent I had been on other people: first my son, then my partner; until the son had to go on vacation too soon after the partner left. And on an exceptionally bad day, I took a lot extra anti-allergy pills (that I had already been abusing for its side effects) just 'cause I wanted to 'sleep'. I just didn't know how to be me outside of my mom/partner duties; it got too quiet in the house, thus giving the voices in my head more audio, and then there was the part of me that was still bleeding so much from being left that, to stem it, I did the one thing all the counselling materials warn against: trigger my own self for temporary relief.

P33ish028: The Heaviness Of Hope & The Timeline For Healing

It's exactly sixty-four days today that my once-upon-a-time ended once and for all. Hmmn! I got a shiver as I was typing that, so I'm gonna go again: it is exactly sixty-four days today that my once-upon-a-time ended once and for all (there, better: acceptance) and it was not until three days ago that I truly let go.

Yes, it took me two full months. And change. To simply stop wishing the 'bad dream' away.
There were moments in those two months when my mind went all, hey, suck it up he's moved on, your spot is filled, he's not out somewhere being miserable and a shadow of himself looking like a scarecrow, he's back on his game, he's happy, so quit whining, B...quit praying, Mary, bury this Lazarus!

Ahhh, child...

P33ish021: Meeting The Parents - Why It Should Be The First Thing You Do

Two years ago, a 26-year-old declared love for me. I told him to tell his mom first. Felt like a callous thing to say/do, but it was a cut-or-get-cut situation. And I'd been cut once. Because two years ago, I was 32. And I am a mom. And the last time I allowed myself get Mills-and-Boomed by someone who was that younger than I am, let's just say the mommy took him back...and there wasn't even a child then.

I had a buddy at the time who thought I'd been harsh with my 26-year-old, but he -- I presumed -- understood where I was coming from. Turned out he didn't. But that's not the point of this write up.

P33ish022: Self Check - How Toxic Are You?

How about everyone steps aside and stop by the confessionary before we go any further? Are you toxic or not? Whether your answer is yes or no -- especially if your answer is no: get in here.
The priest will see you now...

P33ish025: Solitude

I probably shouldn't be trying to write anything right now: my head is empty and my mind is out of even my own reach, so it's not like I have anything ready to go. But words been all I got for a long time, so I'm hoping they haven't chosen to ditch me now.

My friend said something to me very recently, she said, "it's just a freaking breakup babes, why are you falling apart like this?" The answer to that question is one I've been trying to find in the rare voidness that is my current mind ever since. What that has led me to, however, is a backtrack into my life the past ten or so years, and the one realization that has come up staring me in the face is one I don't think I've ever actively pondered before: the fact that I have never been alone.

Like alone.

And that's crazy. Because I was never even the typical relationship person. I mean, I don't need all my fingers to count the number of guys I've gotten naked with. I have never b…