Hi Naja! I’ve followed you for a while now and really appreciate the advice you provide. I’m looking for a little advice for my situation. What do you suggest stepmoms do when the biomom is hot and cold? She wants to be “friends” one minute and then blocks you the next! At this point should I eliminate conversation between us moving forward?
Blocked in Birmingham
It sounds like you’re in a wishy-washy relationship and this person gets to jump in and out at their convenience. I had a boyfriend like that once. When it finally dawned on me that he could not be equally invested in our relationship, I ended things. Successful relationships are built on mutual respect and boundaries. That particular one was not and it didn’t make me feel too good. I ultimately chose my own sanity, I dumped that dummy and I closed the curtain to an inconsistent character.
Relationships are about “relating”. If a person is not willing or able to be being balanced and invested, then it’s just a
relationship….that is slowly sinking.
Your situation is a bit more complex because you can’t just shut the door and end all contact with biomom. Well, you could but, she may become hostile and you don’t need that kind of drama. You have the luxury of having a Husband. He’s the man in the middle and he is always your buffer. If you’re not feeling up to stepmommin’ one day, you get to hand him his kid and go have mimosas. When you’re recalibrated, you can come back and give your bonus baby all the hugs and kisses they can stand. In the beginning of my stepmom journey, I wanted to prove to my husband that I could do this thing as good as it’s ever been done! I wanted to show him that I was not only an awesome partner but a great bonus mommy. Heck, I even built this website! Hahaha!
My approach became such a heavy load to carry. I was not allowing myself to “just be”. As opposed to letting things fall in place and flow naturally, I was overworking myself at a tiring pace. When the inevitable sheer thanklessness that typically accompanies women in our role started to happen, I felt a little icky. Stepmomming is not a job where you get many moments of instant gratification. It can feel like you’ll never get a return on investment. Sometimes, without being hateful, people will remind you that you’re “an unnecessary addition” and it can be overwhelming. No lie, every single one of my Stepmom clients calls me because she is burnt out.
Back to your wishy-washy biomom….essentially, I want you to fall back. Because she has demonstrated repeatedly that she does not care about your feelings, it’s up to you to protect them. You do this by releasing biomom from any sort of expectation of being consistent with you. That’s it! That’s all you gotta do! It’s easier said than done but here are a few ways you can yank back your peace of mind and not rock the delicate bio/step boat:
1. Don’t engage when you don’t feel up to it.
I’m not saying be tit for tat BUT you kinda gotta meet her where she is. If you know she’s blocked you and she all of a sudden reappears trying to “play nice”, you don’t have to respond. I certainly would not. I ignore children AND adults when they have temper tantrums.
2. Show a little compassion to the woman!
Now hear me out before you throw me a major eyeroll! If a woman is aware that you are caring for “her” child and she chooses to maintain an inconsistent relationship with you, she ain’t playin’ with a full deck. A healthy mother will ALWAYS want to maintain an open line of communication with the person running the show in her absence. This woman may be struggling with an internal battle that is much bigger than you. You could very well be one of her triggers. (See #1 though).
3. Allow you Husband to communicate with his kid’s mom.
He can then relay any information on a need to know basis. I urge stepmoms to not trifle themselves with knowing every little mundane detail or conversation regarding their (noncustodial) bonus kids. If you’re over his shoulder during every call, reading every email and proofreading every text, I suggest you find better things to do with your time and energy. A micromanaging stepmom is a stressed stepmom.
4. Take the lead!
Have you ever confronted biomom about this? If she is too fragile for a woman-to-woman talk, drop a subtle hint. Next time she reaches out say, “Hey girl, I thought I was still blocked.” Throw in an LOL for decoration. Either she’ll get defensive and start WW3 or she will bashfully overlook your comment while being cognizant that you’re now hip to her blocking game. Should you chose the straight talk route, be firm and kind and ask her why does she do this.