When my mentor in college had me write out future plans there was never another woman in that plan. Life is not always what you plan for yourself. Sometimes life turns out way better than the plan you wrote down for yourself years before.
Let me take you back 11 years ago. The first time I saw Delilah’s step mom, Elisa, I immediately felt challenged. She never spoke to me so there was not a war of words or even a side eye glance. Elisa was dressed to the nines, put together and looked like she could fill my shoes as Delilah’s mom with such ease and pose. Then there was me; pregnant with Lucy, very hormonal and I just wanted to cry all the time for no apparent reason. That day set off an 8 year struggle of co-parenting. During those 8 years, it felt like a competition, to me, of who was the best mom. Now I like a good competition especially when it makes me a better person, but this competition never felt good. I always felt worse. Sadly, I felt worse for Delilah. I knew there would be uphill challenges at every event, birthday party or anything that would involve Delilah and her Dad. I had written Elisa off. I had told her in not so many words she was air to me, and I would not be communicating with her when it came to Delilah. I made it a Sheree, Atlanta Housewives, moment.
As a side note, kids are very intuitive and smart. Let me just add Delilah is both. She did use the tension and discourse to her advantage. She played us.
3 years ago, the path changed courses. See, Delilah had gotten into a dispute with a few friends, and the moms got involved. Elisa went to bat for Delilah. I realized for the first time she had no intention of replacing me. She had every intention of being Delilah’s biggest cheerleader, motivator, support guide and giving her a loving home to go to when Delilah was not with me. Elisa and I both knew at this point if we were going to change our relationship we needed to treat each other like friends. From that point on, we sat together at all of Delilah’s sporting events; we began to do things together outside of the interest of Delilah.
We have nourished our co-parenting relationship. When I asked Elisa what she enjoys best about co-parenting she says, “If we have a problem we address it right then. We can discuss ideas, concerns and issues in an adult manner with a mutual respect. My relationship with Delilah has changed and improved since we’ve all come together, and Delilah knows we are actively talking with each other. Are there hiccups along with way? Of course but that is to be expected. No one is perfect but we just deal with those as they come along.”
For me, I can honestly say God gave me a friend that I can trust and lean on. We both wished we would have been able to get along with day 1. That would have made life so much easier. Putting your differences aside for the sake of the child should be your number one goal.
If you are in the same position that we were once in we would encourage you to humble yourself and put away any side pettiness. Your child is the one losing in the end. Your relationship with your child’s Dad, Mom, Step-Mom or Step-Dad (whatever the case may be) does affect you, but more importantly it affects your child.
Let us know how your family dynamics work. We would love to hear how you or a family member have gotten through difficult parenting situations.
Melissa Gayle & Elisa