Reader Submission – Torn Between Two Mothers

Jennifer writes:

“I’m not sure if I’m the cat or the mouse. Long story short…..My parents were divorced when I was a child and it was NASTY!  They haven’t seen each other since the divorce. Well, this weekend I’m having a bridal shower and didn’t want to exclude anyone. So, both my mom and step mom are invited to the shower. My mother is not the most mature and normal mother. She is going to feel that I am choosing my step-mother over her or feel that I’ve invited the step mom to hurt her feelings or to take away some of her “mother of the bride” duties. I have yet to tell my mother the step mom is coming, but know there will be a blow up. I did not invite the step mother to irritate my mother (although it sounds kinda nice :)).

I told my mother months ago that I was no longer going to exclude them from my life and this is one of the first events that I wanted to include the step mom and the mom. My dilemma. When I tell my mother the step mom is coming. she is going to do one of a few things…Back out and not come; be catty to the step mom (who is extremely sweet and docile); or feel hurt and pout all day at the shower.  So, I have 3 questions…How and when should I tell my catty mom the step mom is coming? and How do I tell her? and how do I stop her from being catty to the step mom? Help!!”

Kara responds:

Jennifer, let me first express to you how sorry I am that you find yourself in this situation. Divorce is never easy, and as you prove, the children are always the victims — even long after they’re not children anymore.

With that having been said, allow me to interject that feeling threatened or like you’re choosing the step-mother over her is, in fact, a very normal reaction. I know you are telling me that your mother is not very mature or normal, but I’ll need more evidence to support that claim. While it may not be a rational response (from the outside looking in), I can certainly sympathize with Mom and have a bit of compassion. I’ve felt threatened before, myself. As the mother of teen girls, any time one of them calls a friends’ parent “Mom,” even though I know they don’t mean it the same way, I become defensive and hurt. Insecurity is an ugly characteristic, my friend, and one we all exhibit.

So, to answer your actual question — How do you tell her — my response must be to encourage you to tell her quickly and honestly. Tell her today! She needs time to digest this new information. I know that dealing with that kind of stress and anxiety while planning a wedding is enough of a reason to procrastinate, but it will be way worse if she finds out at the shower. Tell her now. I know you dread it, and I know it sucks, but rip that Band-Aid off, Girl. Rip it off the hairiest part of your body, like a gorilla wearing Velcro underwear.

But How? Openly, Jennifer. Tell her that you invited your step-mother, but that your mom is the one that you need there. Thank her for being the kind of mother you can come to and know that she’ll put your wants before her own. (*wink wink* Smooth, right?) And tell her how much you love her and appreciate what she does for you. Make sure she understands that you need her to help you make this a smooth transition into a blended family situation, and that her role as the matriarch is not under review.

You mentioned that she may boycott the bridal shower. If she chooses this route her absence could provide a lonely, but meditative time for her to weigh her options of involvement in your life. I’d wager you’d accept that as a viable trade-off. If she has an outburst and moves on, I’d do the same.  Follow her lead there by letting the outburst go and moving forward with a greater understanding of each other and your relationship.  If she’s catty to your step-mother, or pouts and sulks at the shower, I’d modify my behavior to deal with it. I’m not telling you to pout or sulk back!  But, if your mother is going to act like a toddler, treat her like one (all the way down to grasping her arm and whispering threats below your breath)!   But, my greatest hope is that your honesty, sincerity, and love come through when you talk to her and she gives you the best possible response, alleviating some of the tension you’re bound to be feeling.

She may not react the way we all hope she does, but that’s okay, too. She still has time before the wedding to think over your words, spoken with reason and compassionate love, and modify her behavior. And, if she doesn’t, perhaps ask your step-dad (if there is one in the picture?) to intervene on your behalf. Sometimes it takes a village to raise a parent.

Regardless of the route you take, know that your situation is one which will be in my heart. I hope to hear an update from you about how the conversation went. You’re in my prayers and I hope your Come-to-Jesus moment only happens in the chapel.

Love,

Kara
On Behalf Of
The AmIBeingCatty Team
#amibeingcatty #level1 #lapkitty

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2 responses to “Reader Submission – Torn Between Two Mothers

  1. I agree with kara. Although I don’t know what it’s like to have divorced parents. And I am not divorced either. But I love my mother and I would never want to hurt her feelings in any way. You do need to tell her today. If you keep waiting, she will know you didn’t tell her on purpose and might get more angry. Give it time to settle with her a bit. Also if you step mom is docile like you explained, also let her know the situation and ask her to be as pleasant as possible (for you & your special day). And this IS your special day, but it’s also the day your mother has been waiting your entire life for! Make it special for her too. I hope you get through this with little drama as possible. I’m saying prayers, and please keep us updated!! Weddings are once in a lifetime (well they’re supposed to be lol). Make is special, make it fun, make it a day you and your mom will never forget. Tell your mom that too 🙂

  2. This is Jennifer! I told my mom and she took it somewhat better than expected. She was still a little catty by saying she would have to THINK about being there.

    I went the gentle (hair stroking) tactic of telling her. I did tell her before the shower. In the past I have told her I would no longer be excluding that part of my family and I did remind her of that. I told her I wanted both of the mothers to be there and it was very important as MY mother that she come. But I didn’t back down and told her I understood if she was too upset to be there and to think about it and I would call her the day before the shower.

    So, I called her the day before to confirm she would be there and she said she would. I also added one more little hair stroke, I asked her if she would drive me so we could spend more time together 🙂

    The shower was wonderful, beautiful and what a blast (what amazing friends i have)!! There was definitely tension in the air once the step mother arrived. But I had advised the shower hostesses and my sister of the situation and they were able to help diffuse the situation somewhat (keeping my mom busy, keeping the step mom entertained, etc). It ended up being a wonderful event and now I can only hope the final event when the mom/step dad, dad/step mom are all in the same room at the same time, goes off just as well 🙂

    Thanks for the advice!!

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