Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms wrote in, Cathryn replied​.
Cathryn's Mailbox
2 Youngsters I can't control.

3 yr old SS crying all the time!

A bio-mom worried about new stepmom in her daughter's life- can we help?

About ready to throw in the towel!

About to become a step parent and am terrified!

Bio mom badmouthing me to my stepson & he repeats to me & my kids.

Bio-mom back & I'm hurt by her impact-what can I do?

Bio-mom doesn't want me present at any of my skids school events.

Bio-mom is online stalking & has issues w/ pictures of skids.

Bio-mom physically assaulted me & telling skids it was the other way around?

Bio-mom used me, I drew a line, she’s angry--now what?

BM doesn't want her kids, then does-what's going on?

Clarifying Mission Statement for SMOMS-revised

Dealing w/ bio-mom who doesn't want to get along with me?

Dealing w/ Deceased Bio Mom's Extended Family

Dealing with SD at my young age

DH finds out he has a daughter-I feel terrible

DH sets no Boundaries for SD20-what to do?

DH w/3 bio-kids not trying to bond w/ my 2 bio kids.

Do I love my ss? I don't know.

Does the BB help or hurt with issues?

Don't know where I went wrong

Ever Feel Like Leaving?

FDH feels guilty about leaving BM & allows her to excessively call/text/email him.

Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help!

Feeling like the enemy in my own house: Teen SD

Feeling resentment towards my SS & can't connect

From BB- A Ritual for you & your beloved

From BB: Self-awareness can hurt...why is that?

Help w/situation that dad, biomom & skid all agree on but I don’t feel is best

Holiday traditions? Some ideas from sister SMOMS

How can I find the right balance & Boundaries?

How can I handle my SD8 who loves negative attention?

How do I cope w/DH's need for perfect family when I'm more realistic about it?

How do I deal with a lying SD, her bio-mom & the ex-step mom?

How do I deal with all the hurt and anger?

How do I help her understand that chores and rules don't mean that I don’t love her?

How do I stop SD from lying to me, DH, BM, and BM's boyfriend?

How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices?

How to deal w/ unkind skids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship?

how to deal w/SD choosing bio-mom for school play?

How to handle bio-mom who keeps asking for more $$$?

How to handle it when skids away Christmas Day?

How to help ss, when BM encourages him to lie?

How to help when bio-mom returns

How to let go of the single life I thought I saw going to live versus being SMOM?

How to make transition easier for skids?

how to step back in after stepping out?

Husband still feels guilty, his kids in their 30’s

I am frustrated with my skids 99% of the time...help!

I feel jealous of DH's ex & unheard by DH-Help!

I feel left out & sort of invisible w/ grown SD’s

I really love my FDH, but really wish his daughter didn't exist?

I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson

I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter

I want my bed back

I would like to know how to change my attitude towards my new inherited family

I'm at the end of my tether... Stepchildren don't seem to like me.

If you're in the mood for SMOMS Pep Talk-read this!

Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough

It's too much work- I need help from DH & Family!

Jealous of sister-in-law & Skids-what can I do?

Just jealous or maybe time to leave?

Local support stepmom groups???

My DH doesn't understand why my feelings are hurt

My husband stays at his mothers when he has his daughter for the night.

Need better coping skills but..how to do so…

No matter what I do, bio-mom still hostile. I feel hopeless & scared

Not a step mom yet but need some guidance

Open for your Questions in March 2015

Right now, I HATE being a Stepmom!!!

Self-Pity-it's an emotional numbing,energy draining tactic

Someone to talk to when things come up or whenever?

SS5 keeps throwing his BM in my face! Help!

Struggling w/ a jealous stepdaughter

Stubborn DH and sexually active teenage SS

teenage step daughter & car...Ugh!

the problem is my partner...why is he fighting my efforts?

Transitions and Coparenting Struggles

Trouble coping w/BF's newborn & ex.

Venting Guidelines- A Requested approach

What are reasonable expectations?

What are these letters?

What boundaries do I need to set with husband and sd?

What can we do about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help!

What to do about disrespectful 20 yr/old SS

What to do when Bio mom starts turning step daughter against me?

what to do when step child stops saying I love you?

When bio-mom sends stuff from life w/your DH?

When BM causes drama, how to prevent that impacting my relationship w/ the skids?

When to call it quits? What to do?

When winning more important to bio-mom than getting along

Why do things Skid's say bother me so & what to do?-Updated!

Why does it bother me that my skids don't recognize how much their father does for th

Why does my ss's rudeness bother me so?

Why does my stepson Idolize his bio-mom????

Why don't I matter in the family?

Why so jealous? What about irrational fears?

A bio-mom worried about new stepmom in her daughter's life- can we help?
I'm surprised & saddened by the hate

question:  

Hi. I found your site while trying to find the least intrusive way of approaching my ex's girlfriend, and asking her please to be careful in how she courts my daughter, and just to consider whether this is a level of attention she wants to keep up over the long term. I've met her twice, and she seems like a nice, well-meaning woman in her late 30s, but she's lavish with gifts and attention. I don't know that she's thought ahead much to what happens if the relationship doesn't work out or she just, you know, finds she hasn't got the energy to keep this much super-fun enthusiasm up for my daughter, or doesn't want to. My ex has a long history of serious mental illness and has been on disability for it for several years, and -- as far as I know -- still sees me as the cause of his problems, so we have no communication past polite pickups and drop-offs. Anything beyond that has to go to mediation. So while I'd love it if I could talk to him about this, it's not an option. I doubt he wants me and the girlfriend speaking, either.

My girl's been through a lot, and her dad's illness isn't easy on her, but she does well and has a good relationship with her dad. Even so, it'll likely be hard for her if a grownup who seems to really care about her and be excited about her suddenly...isn't, so much. I'd held back because it's great that my ex finally has a girlfriend and is happier, and frankly it's a relief there's someone looking after him. And besides I don't want to start a fight. But the gift-giving and fun are starting to be...well, it looks to me kind of intense. I don't know if she realizes my girl will appreciate her anyway if she's just ordinary and nice. (And it could be this really is ordinary for her.)

Anyway, I started looking around the site for tips on how stepmoms do and don't like to be approached by the moms, and...wow. The level of hostility really shocked and saddened me. Every sad and tired divorce cliche seems to be in here. You know, every ex is a narcissist or personality disordered, every dad is a cruel insensitive jerk, every mom is a lying, golddigging whore. I think the reality is that they're mostly just people. My best friend is a stepmom, and so was my dad's wife (after I was grown), and I've seen it's a very tough gig. Tough enough that I don't want it for myself, and stay out of involvement with other men's children -- I've got plenty on my plate and no desire to get involved in those relationships. But...wow. It seems like there's this uniform hostility, suspicion, and teeth-gritting -- even outright hatred towards the moms.  

Is this really representative? Reading some of these threads, I began wondering whether it's avoidable. It seems to me that people divorce for reasons, but that divorced families are still, like it or not, families. With problems, and children who are as sweet and naive and wise and cruel and frustrating as children can be, and stressed parents who haven't got enough time or money. And you're unlikely to get an unbiased story about any major family event from anyone, no matter how adorable they are -- plenty of stuff you'll never hear at all. So I guess I don't see the point of being Team Anti-Mom. Nor have I yet met a mom who's not going to defend like a bear if she thinks her kids are in trouble. I'm reading this board and thinking, "Oh God -- is this woman going to feel she has to cement her relationship with my ex by 'saving' his relationship with our daughter, or cutting me down? Is she going to decide I get too much child support and custody, and try to push us to play “Pay the Lawyers again?”

If my daughter's cranky, will she decide it's because I'm a bad mother? If my ex is struggling with his problems and giving her a hard time, will she take it out on me, because that's safest? Is she going to have any mercy and recognize that hey, I'm a single mom, I'm already stretched, and maybe there are good reasons why things are the way she found them?"

I don't know. It's late, I need to go to bed, and I'm just hoping that if this lady sticks around she'll be...somewhat more reasonable about the whole thing.

CATHRYN’S REPLIES:

Initial reply from my i-phone to acknowledge her letter:
Hi Amy,
JUST got your letter and wanted to reply initially to acknowledge it and your overall concern.

In a nutshell the reason for most of the pain, rage, hatred and grief you read about on my site is due, in general terms, to the fact that the bio-moms of the stepmothers here are often hostile towards them or their ex-husband or both.

We differentiate bio-moms into 3 categories-kind, civil and hostile. Many of the women who are stepmom on this sit are also bio-moms and over the years have given us "mothers by marriage" great insight.

Most of the women who find and participate on my site have found us while in emotional crisis. (usually register between 11pm and 3am) They are looking for ways to handle the excruciating stress without turning into the stereotypical evil stepmom. It's why I founded the group 11+ years ago -and I was a relationship coach for 16 years before I started the group in 2000...and I was at the end of my rope.

I will read and reply to your letter in detail later as I want to honor the time you took to write and give you my perspective-for what, if anything, it's worth.

If you want some happy, success stories, check out comamas.com. They are the two who wrote, "Stepwives." I bet you'll see a different set of situations there. Everything for both families changed when the bio-mon decided to get along with stepmom.

Everyone is not one way or the other. There are examples of good and cruel, thoughtful and narcissistic, open-hearted and hostile people in all roles of stepfamilies-including the stepchildren and bio-kids involved.

We are just a population of women who aren't able to have the happy family dream because the bio-mom, in many situations is openly unwilling to have a positive relationship.

If you read Hawaiistepmom's lastest thread, you'll see she's one of the lucky ones. If you search on her name you'll see it's been a nightmare and when her bio-mon became a stepmom to another hostile bio-mom, her emotional lights went on (a dream we all share) and her heart opened. That choice (only she could choose to make) has changed the life of so many people around her ESPECIALLY her own daughter's life. It's a true miracle and we celebrate them whenever they occur.

Sadly they rarely do for those of us on the site, so we grieve, regroup, study, grow, heal and move forward realizing we are stuck with a person unwilling to share a happy vision of the family and in her unwillingness-we are all hurt.

I have not read your entire letter so I will read and reread it, then reply to you.

I was off my own site for over 4 years because I couldn't help others while I was so crushed emotionally. I've been back 6 months, after studying and therapy full-time during that time. This site isn't the ideal situation, far from it. But there's a need to help women, their husband's, marriages and the kids involved to deal with the reality created when one or more members of the stepfamily puzzle aren't willing to get along. The bio-mom is the most impactful role in determining overall success or happiness.

I have no personal experience with a bio-mom willing to be kind or civil. I love to hear about them and we value everyone one of them here at Smoms.org.

Thank you for your letter.
We don't think all bio-moms are whores. Please tell me where you saw that and I will reach out to that SMOM to change the language. She must be in pain or rage to write that.

For me, that old saying is so true for stepfamilies too, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy." I'm dedicating my life and have fully funded the site and group since 2000 to find ways to thrive even if our happy family dream can't come true. If we can learn and become wiser, more compassionate and closer to the men we love from what's really happening , that we can't change , then I can bring Hope to all these women. We can support each other and build new dreams, as I've had to.

We are dealing with the hand we were dealt and trying our best to do so while taking the high road as often as we human beings can. Not perfect but intending to be wise, kind and as helpful as we can be.

More from me when I get back to office and onto my laptop. Sorry for any typos.

Respectfully offered, Cathryn


Second Reply to Amy:

Dear Amy, I’m hoping that you received my first reply acknowledging your letter. I’ve read your letter twice now and want to offer a few things which I hope will add to my earlier comments and give you more hope.

First thing, as the Bio-mom in your situation, you have so much power over this situation, perhaps more than you know. It’s a good thing for you. Your strong connection with your daughter is more than likely going to prevail no matter what her stepmom does. I can understand why you might be upset by the stress, rage, grief and pain you read about on our site. Happily, your situation, and your daughter’s “stepmom” is probably NOT going to find us. Why? Because you’re one of those wonderful, kind bio-mom we all long for in our stepkids lives. Your willingness to give your daughter permission to have fun and enjoy the connection with the woman her dad loves is a tremendous gift!!

You are reading about a lot of women in pain because the bio-moms of their stepkids are NOT willing to get along with us (or their ex-husbands). If you read my thread, in Cathryn’s mailbox, you’ll see my story, “When winning is more important to bio-mom than getting along.) If you choose to read that you’ll see what many of us are going through day in and day out. It can be excruciating and have devastating impact on our marriages, health and finances. There are reasons why we are so upset and looking for compassion and support. As I wrote in my first email to you, many are here because we’re trying to postively respond and deal with very painful, complex and tangled levels of relationships.

We are not team anti-mom. We love Moms! At least the kind and civil bio-moms of the world. As I mentioned in my first email, many if not most of the women who write on our site ARE MOMS (bio-moms as we call them.)

You are reading about the trials and pains of a specific group of women, impacted by bio-mom’s who choose to not be kind or civil. We have never said we feel all moms are any of the bad things you mentioned in your letter.

SO to specifically address one of your questions, “Is this really representative?” NO. It is however, what stepmoms with hostile bio-moms are having to deal with. We have no idea how many bio-moms are kind or civil or hostile. so I can’t give you percentages. We are having to live with a nightmare.

If you read the posts, especially the veteran stories, or why women join the group (at the top of the General Board, you’ll see how amazingly sincere, kind, loving and eager these women are for everyone to get along. You will see how hard we have tried (me for 13 years before I gave up trying.)

There is also a forum for stepmoms to write about their issues with their own kids and with their kids’ stepmoms. Check that out for more that may help you better understand some issues. You may also want to read my Smommentary (Essays on Stepmom-ing) about “The Pros and Cons of Catastrophizing.” It sounds like you’ve been through A LOT and maybe it would give you some relief from some of your future worries about your daughter’s new “stepmom.”

NOTE: I use the word stepmom as NOT a legal term. We call ourselves SMOMS (Rhymes with Tom’s) because we’ve made the commitment to do what we can to own our stuff, be as kind as we can be and work hard for the good of all the kids involved.

Since i know nothing about this newbie stepmom, I can only say, it sounds like she’s trying hard to do nice things for your daughter. it’s understandable that you don’t want your daughter hurt in any way. We don’t want that for an of the kids involved. What you may not be considering, is that some bio-mom are not like mother bears. They are more like, well, can’t think of the animal to fit this. What they are is willing to hurt their own children to get their own emotional needs for power, revenge, guilt, etc. met. They are willing to use their children to hold their ex-husband’s hostage.

CLEARLY, this is not you, or the kind of bio-mom you are. You sound like many of our SMOM-moms. (They are women who are both stepmoms and bio-moms. I repeat myself by saying again, your daughter is very lucky to have a mother like you.

You ask a lot of questions about things she might do.
At this point, it sounds like she’s possible guilty of trying too hard and over-giving. I know I did that out of my own desire to connect with my stepson.

Since i don’t know how old your daughter is, I can’t be sure about this next part. If she is old enough you can help her by continuing to support her relationship with her new stepmom and recognize that she may be one of those lucky skids (stepkids) able to have 2 loving mothering women in her life. (Bio-mom and stepmom). If she is old enough you can help her is she is hurt by anything that stepmom does. You can encourage her to share so you will understand how she is feeling. If you choose to read, “Stepwives” you may decide to reach out to the stepmom and I can promise you that thousands of us SMOMS will be routing for a wonderful meeting of the minds between the two of you.

It would be wonderful for all of you if the 3 adults in your daughter’s life could all get along, civilly is great, kindly is tremendous (miracle, joyful celebration kind of wonderful!).

There’s a wide spectrum of possibilities for your future. Only you know the details of your situation so I will hope that you will find comfort, insights and hope in what I’ve suggested you read.

If you find, along the way, that you feel threatened, challenged, “less then” or any other painful feelings arise as your daughter builds a connection with this new stepmom, please know that, from what the bio-moms here have told me, this is very human, very normal and something that you can deal with and resolve personally to heal old wounds. Being in a stepfamily is a fast track to bringing up any and all unhealed wounds from childhood.

If you begin to feel pain about this, please get some support, reach out to other bio-moms who are, like you, trying to do the right thing for their kids. I’m happy to help you as best I can as well. Although I’m not a bio-mom, I’ve paid attention to the bio-moms on the site and will pass along what I can.

In an attempt to help you (and also your daughter and her stepmom) on your journey please write back to me here if you have anything specific that you’d like help with. I will also ask the women of the site who are SMOM-Moms to offer you their perspective and often hard-earned advice.

If any of you SMOMS reading this letter, want to offer Amy any support you can reply here for a few more days.

Amy, my sense is that things are going to be better for you than you fear from reading about our nightmare situations. Whatever impulse compelled you to write to me and me to reply to you...let’s trust that it is going to lead to something good for you and your daughter (and that lucky stepmom).

Warm Wishes for more peace of mind, Cathryn


PS Just as I was about to post this letter, I got an email from Amy, replying to my first email. She wrote this NOT knowing about my letter above, but the additional info and insights she offers gives us more info.

I’ve copied it over. My letter and her replies are intermingled. Her replies are in bold. This exchange is an example of the way women can support each other when we share a common goal. Bio-moms and stepmoms alike.

Here’s her reply to my first email to her:

Cathryn, thank you so much for your kind letter. I appreciate all the time -- and emotional energy! -- you took in answering.


> Hi Amy,
> JUST got your letter and wanted to reply initially to acknowledge it and your overall concern.
>
> In a nutshell the reason for most of the pain, rage, hatred and grief you read about on my site is due, in general terms, to the fact that the bio-moms of the stepmothers here are often hostile towards them or their ex-husband or both.
>
> We differentiate bio-moms into 3 categories-kind, civil and hostile. Many of the women who are stepmom on this sit are also bio-moms and over the years have given us "mothers by marriage" great insight.
>
> Most of the women who find and participate on my site have found us while in emotional crisis. (usually register between 11pm and 3am) They are looking for ways to handle the excruciating stress without turning into the stereotypical evil stepmom. It's why I founded the group 11+ years ago -and I was a relationship coach for 16 years before I started the group in 2000...and I was at the end of my rope.
>

I can appreciate that, and can see where the frustration and despair come from. It's a terribly tough spot, being a stepmom. In my years as a single mom, I've met enough men who really don't understand that, either -- right away they want to introduce me to their kids, and I think, often, they don't see what their kids want, or what kind of a position a new girlfriend or wife is in, or is likely to be in. They just want to show off their kids. I'm always reassured when a guy is protective of his kids and not anxious to have me meet them. Smile But I've yet to hear one broach the subject in any practical way -- you know, what do you want the nature of the relationship to be, what's the ecosystem you're walking into -- in a realistic way, not one that just rehashes the divorce. I'm not looking to marry again, so in some senses these aren't issues I'm likely to deal with.
 
> I will read and reply to your letter in detail later as I want to honor the time you took to write and give you my perspective-for what, if anything, it's worth.
>
> If you want some happy, success stories, check out comamas.com. They are the two who wrote, "Stepwives." I bet you'll see a different set of situations there. Everything for both families changed when the bio-mon decided to get along with stepmom.

Thanks for that, and I will.

My situation's a little strange -- or at least I hope it is. My ex became convinced that I was responsible for making him mentally ill, and is still surprisingly hostile and...paranoid is probably strong, but he clearly thinks I'm out to get him when parenting issues come up. Like to the point where therapists who've seen us together are concerned and suggest our daughter could spend less time with him as she gets older. It's as if time's stood still since the day he filed, and it's been seven years, almost. It's wearing, but I've yet to find a way out of it, and so far we get by. Frankly, I'd move away, but if I did that I'd just have to send our daughter to spend extended visitation with him unprotected. He's been fine with short stints, but...yeah, it's something I don't want to risk. I think at best she'd wind up trying to take care of him, or just isolated and weathering his moods.

I really don't want to rile him, and I'd guess he's told the new woman the same whoppers he's told his parents about me, so who knows what she believes. He doesn't encourage our meeting. My assumption's that this lady's sane, nice, reasonably together, and that we could get along. I'm not about mom-jealousy (if this kid doesn't know who her mom is by now, boy, something's gone wrong), and I wouldn't dream of doing some of the things I've read about on your forum, dumping childcare on the smom, showing up unexpectedly, etc. Even if it weren't super rude and presumptuous, I find that things go bad in a hurry when we deviate much from the written custody agreement. But getting along around my ex...that may be a problem. Which sucks, because nobody should have to tiptoe around like this. But I find the legal protections against his behavior are pretty thin, and I'm sure that -- at least for now -- to her he seems charming and like an overlooked, maltreated gem. I fell for it hard enough. In another situation I'd warn her, like, yesterday, but as things stand I think I'd stick my hand in a woodchipper first.

In the midst of all this...you know, my daughter's really dealt with all this trouble like a champ. Her attitude is awesome. But she's not endlessly resilient, and she's still really only little.



>
> Everyone is not one way or the other. There are examples of good and cruel, thoughtful and narcissistic, open-hearted and hostile people in all roles of stepfamilies-including the stepchildren and bio-kids involved.

Yes. I just recoil when I see the hostile language used. I saw and head plenty of it during my divorce, and of course I still hear it from friends going through their own divorces. I guess we just have to medicalize everything now. I remember one time I finally asked my ex's psychiatrist, "Is he sick, or is he just a jerk?" And the guy said, "No way to know. Could be both." I think, though, that when we do the amateur diagnosis to explain miserable behavior, it sticks and later does harm by turning problems into crises. So-and-so wasn't just behaving like a freaked-out, testosterone-poisoned jerk through his divorce, which is totally normal if disastrous; he's personality disordered, and that's a permanent thing, so now we have to watch the children for signs of damage forever and be suspicious whenever problems come up.

I think it's more honest, and less blood-pressure-spiking, to say that we just don't know why people do what they do -- God knows I don't understand what my ex is thinking -- but that it really chaps our asses, and we can do this or that about it.



>
> We are just a population of women who aren't able to have the happy family dream because the bio-mom, in many situations is openly unwilling to have a positive relationship.

Well...you know, I don't actually meet too many women in any circumstance who get the happy family dream. It's a rude awakening. I keep finding out that families I thought were incredible and solid and prosperous and happy are actually miserable, with the women treated badly and/or the sex nonexistent and debt to the sky and the kids just sort of floating in their own space. There must be truly happy ones out there. I just keep winding up at: "Really? I have to do it all myself, with this hostile guy out there, and this is the happiest, most peaceful deal going? That can't be right...."

Come to think of it -- not that I'm trying to level all situations -- the traps surrounding motherhood in all its forms are many. I'm very much a second-wave feminist, but I have to admit that it's got just about nothing to do with being a mother. Back when my daughter was tiny, I had these counselors trying to get me to leave my husband. I totally saw their point, but I also saw that if I did that, the law would tell me I'd have to leave my pre-verbal child in the unsupervised care of a dad who had trouble taking care of himself. After all, he hadn't hurt her yet. And there was no way I'd do that voluntarily.

>
> If you read Hawaiistepmom's lastest thread, you'll see she's one of the lucky ones. If you search on her name you'll see it's been a nightmare and when her bio-mon became a stepmom to another hostile bio-mom, her emotional lights went on (a dream we all share) and her heart opened. That choice (only she could choose to make) has changed the life of so many people around her ESPECIALLY her own daughter's life. It's a true miracle and we celebrate them whenever they occur.
>

I'm glad to hear it, but sorry that she went through it in the first place. One thing I kept thinking, while reading the boards, was that in some ways being older, or marrying older, makes things easier. I read one post from a woman who'd sunk $20K into a legal battle only to find that c/s and medical were still very expensive, and I just thought, Oh hon, don't do it! Don't spend your money on these things! It's yours, you earn it, you get to do with it what you please. You're not obliged to pay for these things, it's not your fight unless you make it your fight. Just like your time is your time, and you're not the on-call babysitter, and you know what, these kids have a dad at your house, and he's fully capable of shopping and cooking and all the rest. He made 'em. And if you want to pitch in, that's really nice of you, but he has no call to take it for granted. If those kids are disrespectful to you -- there's no reason in the world you should have to stand there and take it. You may not be able to make them leave, but there's a spa or a coffeeshop or even a quiet motel room calling your name...and, if it won't stop, an apartment. A nice, peaceful, quiet apartment where you can tell people to leave if they aren't treating you nicely.

That said, I also saw plenty that was kind of frightening to me as a mom -- expectations of adult behavior from children (and resentment and anger when it didn't come through), distress at the husband or bf and ex-wife getting along well and being friends...lots of insecurities. The replies weren't always reassuring, either. It made me wonder: If there are problems over at my ex's and I'm worried about how my daughter's handling them, will whatever I say just be interpreted as "mom's afraid of competition"? I sure hope not. I don't think I would've made it if it hadn't been for a bunch of friends and daycare people who were essentially auxiliary parents to my daughter while she was little and I was trying to reboot my career and support us. They really saved us -- I don't have any family around here.


> Sadly they rarely do for those of us on the site, so we grieve, regroup, study, grow, heal and move forward realizing we are stuck with a person unwilling to share a happy vision of the family and in her unwillingness-we are all hurt.
>
> I have not read your entire letter so I will read and reread it, then reply to you.
>
> I was off my own site for over 4 years because I couldn't help others while I was so crushed emotionally. I've been back 6 months, after studying and therapy full-time during that time. This site isn't the ideal situation, far from it. But there's a need to help women, their husband's, marriages and the kids involved to deal with the reality created when one or more members of the stepfamily puzzle aren't willing to get along. The bio-mom is the most impactful role in determining overall success or happiness.
>
> I have no personal experience with a bio-mom willing to be kind or civil. I love to hear about them and we value everyone one of them here at Smoms.org.

Fingers crossed that someday you will, then. It's really a scary thing from the mom's side. One reason I'm so tentative about contacting this girlfriend of my ex's is that seriously, my daughter and I could do so much worse. She seems nice, and anxious to get along, and she's smart and obviously had real self-discipline in her studies, and she's got a real job. I liked how she handled herself with me. I'm sure she's got her problems, but I'd feared much worse, because of course you have no control over your ex's decisions about who to bring into your child's life. His private disability income is substantial enough to be a real magnet, and a lot of the people he spent time with were really pretty badly messed-up, other people with serious psych and addiction problems. You work with whatever life throws at you, but yeah, he had acquaintances I would definitely not have wanted our daughter spending much time with, and I'd have done whatever I could to limit it.

But rudeness, incivility...in the end it hits the kids hardest, and besides it endangers custody. You just can't. My tongue is like hamburger already, and I'm sure it'll be worse by the time my kid's grown, but my take is that that's the job. If the probs are that bad, then that's what lawyers are for.


>
> Thank you for your letter.
> We don't think all bio-moms are whores. Please tell me where you saw that and I will reach out to that SMOM to change the language. She must be in pain or rage to write that.

Oh, I don't think anyone actually used the word "whore". It was just all the refs to the carousels of men, multiple boyfriends, affairs, short engagements, etc. (That bad mom who can't keep her legs shut!) I'm willing to believe it happens but I have to tell you, I don't know any single moms with the time or energy for that kind of thing. Oh, actually I did know one, and yeah, she was good and nuts, really crazy. I had to stop being friends with her.

>
> For me, that old saying is so true for stepfamilies too, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy." I'm dedicating my life and have fully funded the site and group since 2000 to find ways to thrive even if our happy family dream can't come true. If we can learn and become wiser, more compassionate and closer to the men we love from what's really happening , that we can't change , then I can bring Hope to all these women. We can support each other and build new dreams, as I've had to.
>
> We are dealing with the hand we were dealt and trying our best to do so while taking the high road as often as we human beings can. Not perfect but intending to be wise, kind and as helpful as we can be.
>
> More from me when I get back to office and onto my laptop. Sorry for any typos.
>
> Respectfully offered, Cathryn

Smile and gratefully received.

Thanks again --

Amy
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org