Monday, April 16, 2012

A Letter to the Ex-Wife

After meeting with a girlfriend and sharing common stories over a bottle of wine, it became apparent a blog must be written about being the new Mrs. X.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the new Mrs. X with a  few little hints for survival with my children and their mama bear (me)…but there was another letter I really needed to write but deep down, I am one big fried chicken….I don’t want to be misconstrued and I certainly don’t want to cause unnecessary drama…..

But……as I put on my Wayfarers…….step into a pair of The Man’s boxers……pull up my tube sox and slide down the hallway to the tunes of Bob Seger……...I think to myself………sometimes…you just have to say what the flick…………flock……….fleck whatever it is that you have to say at such times……

Dear Ex-Wife:

We share a few special people in common.  Being an ex-wife myself, I completely understand your position.  I understand your frustrations…..I understand the need to emotionally distance yourself from a man who was in your life for a very, very long time…and I understand the emptiness that it brings.  However, there are a few things that you need to understand about me.

I am a good person.  I like puppies and ducks….and baby chickies (at least until they grow bigger into scary chickens).  One of the best things about me is my heart.  I do think about your heart and I try as much as I can to have empathy and understand where you are coming from.  Because my heart is big, there is more real estate to make me vulnerable…..your words can hurt me…they can piss me off…..they can make me apathetic…..they can send me on a shopping therapy spree lasting a whole weekend…..but there can still be hurt.  Although I am a big girl and can hold my own, arrows can hit their mark.  I expect you to trash talk to your friends, to your family, and to your man (after all, I have friends, family and a man, too)…..but please be sensitive……(I say this to myself as well).  I don’t expect you to care about my heart, but words are long lasting things that sometimes have unexpected consequences.  Sometimes we mean to hurt one person with them but they change direction and hurt someone completely unintended—like shrapnel. 

You should know that I will never undermine you to your children.  Period.  Enough said….but it needs to be said.  I would expect the same from my X’s new Mrs. 

Know that I could be a great ally.   I can be an extra hand. 

We have graduations, birthdays, and grandchildren to think about.  How great would it be if we could all celebrate together!! 

You should also know that I understand your hurt.  I understand the deconstruction of a marriage.  I know betrayal, loneliness, and the scary feeling of being single at 40----holy cow…..don’t I ever know those things.  However, I also know that my husband is a good father and a good man….part of the above celebrating together has got to include a peace treaty…..seriously. 

Know that I can enrich your children’s lives – not in a competitive sense….not in a parental sense……but in the sense that I can bring things into their lives that are uniquely mine…..not in competition with you, but rather to complement you….. I have no motherhood to offer them – that is your job.  I get the easy stuff….I know that….I didn’t change their diaper or hear their first words….but I am here to offer a word of encouragement, a sassy opinion, and even a project or two to work on when necessary.  I bring two kids of my own to the mix….making it all a birth order fruit basket upset for sure….but their interactions enrich their lives…..and gives them more people to care about. 

Lastly, I want to apologize for my own awkwardness.  I come near you and I don’t know what to say…..I get tongue tied and go all shy-girl.  You’ve been a part of the family much longer than I have and it can be a little intimidating.  Please don’t misconstrue my social awkwardness for anything other than it is……

So….let’s call a peace treaty…..let’s love the kids in our lives…..and try to make things a bit less awkward…..I am game if you are. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Letter to the Future Mrs. X

A girlfriend and I had a long lunch with cocktails the other day.  The topic du jour was being a Mrs. X –you know….the woman who marries your X who without fail will be criticized about everything from her parenting skills to her nail polish color to the number on the bathroom scale.  We all hope the new Mrs. X will be dumb as a box of rocks, have a behind the size of Texas and, of course, make our X miserable so he will finally learn what  a SOB he is/was. 

In reality, we should pine away for the perfect woman – someone who will be pleasant to talk to at family functions…..someone with a sense of humor so when Junior shows up at their house with his latest ant farm project and proceeds to drop said project on the floor shattering an ant world all over her kitchen……she won’t commit homicide….. We should want someone good to our children and who treats them with dignity and respect……..

It’s a stinky job…..being the Mrs. X.  You inherit all of the family disfunction….not just your own, but your Man’s, too.  You not only inherit his family, his kids, the dog, the goldfish and the Bob Marley album collection---you also inherit his X…..let me repeat that…..yes, you inherit his X—who most probably will hate you till the day she dies. 

My X is getting married this summer.  The new wifey isn’t exactly who I would pick to be the step-mom in my kids' lives…..but I wasn’t actually consulted…..and quite honestly, if I chose…..I would probably pick someone with the above qualities… know….dumb as a box of rocks and someone at LEAST a jeans size larger than me…..maybe even two…. BUT, in the spirit of charity, the Easter Bunny, spring lambs and April Fools day, I am giving the future Mrs. X a little help….just a little. 

Dear Future Mrs. X:

I know you are madly in love with my X---I know right now everything is all tulips and sunshine and I genuinely hope that you two will be eternally happy….etc. etc. etc.  Being a step-mom and dealing with me will not be a walk in the park……I apologize in advance.  If the X and I could deal with our dysfunction properly…..well….he wouldn’t be my X……  Here are a few tips to make your life a bit easier as the new Mrs. X.

Treat my children kindly and with respect.  This is non-negotiable.  Feel free to enforce your house rules, but know that there is a line.

At family functions, talk to my kids…..engage with them.  Find out what they like and who they are…..they are pretty good kids…..I know they remind you of my existence and of a life you weren’t a part of…..but embrace it because they aren’t going anywhere.

Don’t try to drive a wedge between my X and our kids.  Don’t badmouth their mother……..I have heard that she can go from zero to psycho in about 15 seconds……so keep your thoughts about my life to yourself and to your hubbie….don’t speak of them to my children.

When you see me, be polite.  It’s a scary thing being around the former Mrs. X….. I have been there….but remember, there are many weddings, graduations, birthday parties, and births to attend……  Better yet, bring a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses---we will probably both need a drink. 

Encourage my X to spend time with his children…..make some new traditions (just don’t make them conflict with mine---remember that zero to psycho comment).   Include them in your plans. 

And lastly, be patient….it takes more time that you ever thought for kids to warm up to the newbie.  It takes more time than it should.   But if you invest in their lives, you will eventually get a return. 

All the best,