My ex-husband found The One. My sons and I couldn’t be happier about it. We joke about finding our Nicks in the “nick of time.” (Her name is Nicole, my husband’s name is Nicholas.) I do believe they truly saved us from ourselves, because as our marriage dissolved we both took dives in the wrong direction. It’s what people do, apparently. But then one day you open the door and love walks in. Of course nothing worth having comes easily and all good things must be cared for, must be worked for so you can appreciate their value. Love especially, since it is priceless.
We live in an age of blended families. Those of us who marry so young we have no idea who we are or what we want are standing up and saying no to a over-arching societal expectation of a lifetime of unhappiness. Those of us who marry for the wrong reasons; to fill a void, to fit in, to hide who we really are, (there are so many reasons marriages crumble) are tired of staying married when we know it’s over because of “what people might say” or “what people might think” or “what about the children??” I can tell you this much because I have children who have lived on both sides of the coin and are old enough to use their voices, kids want happy parents. They don’t want a bunch of yelling and screaming. They don’t want parents who are withdrawn and emotionally shut down either, it’s almost worse. Most of all they hate hypocrisy, they know when you are lying to them and they just want to know what to expect so they know what they’ll be dealing with. Do they care where you are sleeping at night? Not really. As long as they know you are safe and they can call you and they can see you and you get along with each other.
Now earlier I said my ex husband found The One. He did. However she took her time joining our little clan. His first choice turned out to be a nightmare on wheels. No exaggeration on my part. Among her many sins was her aim and desire to replace me and how deep it went even I didn’t know until she was gone and my sons finally began to open up about what was going on when I wasn’t around. Oddly enough my own reaction surprised me. “I’m so sorry.” I said and started to cry. Because it occurred to me that again, as parents, we all had failed. You see it’s impossible to replace someone’s Mother and useless to try. The same goes for the Father. There is a deep biological connection that there are no words for. However there is no replacement for the Stepmother or Stepfather either. That one degree of separation is sometimes the germination for the most beautiful flowering relationship with a child. Most of all when they see that you truly love their parent their love for you will grow.
Nicole changed the game. She flew in like an eagle and landed in the middle of our feuding family and defended me. It was the first time I felt like I was actually being heard by what had become “the other side” since SHE left. To every complaint, every grumble, every hint of frustration she firmly stated “She is their mother. It’s time she got some respect for that.” It was like a bomb going off in my head. It was the stuff of dreams. And then it hit me. Nicole was a mom just like me. She had an ex husband too, married to the worst version of Stepmother just like Nicole’s predecessor. She knew how it felt to struggle to hold onto her dignity while someone else did everything in their power to tear it apart. She was being the Stepmother she wished she could give her daughters.
You see when my sons left one after the other to spend the school year with their father and the summers with me it was heartbreaking. If they had gone to any other kind of Stepmother I would have lost it completely. Nicole was able to navigate those rough waters like a seasoned captain and those were some hellishly rough waters. She could have easily taken aim at me or tried to alienate my sons from me but Nicole is not a stupid or jealous woman. To the contrary she is the very definition of what a stepmother should be. Kind, not easily manipulated, loving, forms her own opinions and in it for the long game. Also, and most importantly, not there to replace mom, there to embrace her and the kids together. Although it might seem unusual, Nicole and I call each other sisters and we have from the beginning. Why do we do this? For lots of reasons but most of all because we feel like sisters. It really isn’t that complicated. Sometimes the truth is the easiest answer of all. Hats off to you Nicole and all the other wonderful women out there who love unconditionally. Sometimes it takes a mighty heart like yours to withstand a storm. I love you.
Why Do I Call Her Sister
I call her sister
Because she is a part of me in a a way I have no words for
Because she loves my children as her own
Because she defends me ferociously
Because I trusted her instantly just from the sound of her voice
Because she trusts me
Because she’s tiny and breakable, yet fights like she’s Hercules which reminds me of my mother
Because she cusses like a sailor which also reminds me of my mother
Because she won’t be tamed, I’ve always wanted a sister like that
Because she’s my ally and friend
Because she calls me sister too
Because she’s the best Stepmother in the whole world and that’s a gift only my sister could give.