I don’t talk about my daughter’s father much because… well, frankly there isn’t much to talk about. He’s not an active part of Tween Girl Muchacha’s reality and certainly not part of mine. Whenever he is, it’s usually accompanied by two or three Tylenol, a reading of my favorite scripture, and a silent scream into a pillow.
Despite our turbulent history, I’ve managed to make an unlikely friend of his other former girlfriend, who has two smaller children with him. My daughter was thrilled to become a big sister and, even though they don’t see each other very often, her brother and sister are head over heels about her. (It’s so cute — they call her “Sty” because they can’t pronounce “Skylar.”)
I’ve gotta admit: It feels good to defy the “bitter baby mama” stereotype, especially as women whose only common denominator, at first blush, is having the same ex.
The miracle, like most amazing turns of events, wasn’t an overnight sensation at all. In fact, I suspect she used to ride along with him when he came to pick my child up just to make sure I wasn’t trying to weasel my way back into his heart or his pants. I was sending her telepathic messages that she was in the clear, that I was totally and completely over any ounce of attraction to him, that I would and could never date a man who didn’t take care of his kids, especially if the kid in question is mine.
She must not have gotten them. Bad connection maybe.
I’d bounce out to the car and make attempts to be super friendly to her. Sometimes she’d eek out a “hi” in return, sometimes not so much. But I didn’t see why we couldn’t be cool.
During trips to the home her dad shared with said girlfriend, my daughter formed a bond with her. She’d come back to our house raving about her cooking or recounting something fun they’d done together or laughing about something she’d said. And I’m not gonna lie: even though I never said anything out loud, I was jealous. Oh puh-lease. Not because she was with my ex. God bless her for that decision. I was a little irked because my daughter was so enamored with “her stepmom.”
I was also a little peeved that the same woman who apparently was a ball of giggles and grins with my child wouldn’t give me, her mother, the time of day when I was determined to prove that there didn’t have to be any animosity or hostility whatsoever between us.
I didn’t let my agitation show. I’ve gotten pretty good with that over the years dealing with you-know-who. But it was definitely there. Still, I was grateful that was she being kind to my baby and not treating her like an accessory to her boyfriend’s past, which is what happens in so many step-family relationships. So for that, I deeply appreciated her.
Eventually I arrived at a placid, emotionless place when it came to either party in that couple and life went on, nice and detached, for years. My daughter and her sorta-stepmom stayed in contact via Facebook, and I didn’t have to be involved anymore.
But as I was making plans for The Girl’s 12th birthday party, I got a text from Other Mom asking me if she could bring her kids. I hadn’t even thought about inviting them, but texted her back that of course they could come, with a thousand exclamation points to convey my excitement. I was impressed. All the way from New Jersey to Washington, DC to celebrate Skylar? How thoughtful!
Since then, she’s been down again to go to one of The Girl’s dance recitals and we’ve even played and joked and laughed together at a cookout we were both invited to by That Man’s cousin. We stay in contact by texts and phone calls, though we haven’t quite gotten to the point of friending each other on Facebook yet. The relationship is easy — never strained — and both our guards are down.
I found out that my rolling stone dad has nine, maybe ten other kids, and we're just now getting to know each other as adults. But Other Mama and I have really worked to make sure that even though their dad is challenged, her kids and my child will grow up knowing and loving each other. Baby mama myths are just that. Myths.
How far would you go to ensure your child knows their half siblings?
Image via tamckile/Flickr