Hands off my grandson!

My ex has moved on and I don’t care if his new partner is nice!

Our elder has some empathetic words for a letter writer who is struggling with her feelings towards her family.

Dear EWC

Hi, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to vent my raw feelings which I feel I cannot do with some people. My ex husband has been together (almost living together) with a new woman for almost three years. I have not met her nor do I want to. She is not the one that broke down the marriage; however, it appears they are a solid couple now. In the next few months one of my daughters is getting married and the other is having a baby. There will be so many functions to attend. My daughter has tested the waters twice now asking me if I would be OK for this person to attend the wedding shower, then more recently attend a close family baby reveal party. I explained I felt uncomfortable her attending intimate family gatherings and she accepted it, but it’s eating at me. The more I hear that she is a nice person, the more I’m bothered by her. I have insecurities about myself, and having to confront and possibly be compared or see her interacting with my children is making me feel so deflated and lonely. The kids love me and respect my wishes, but want to please their dad too. Logically I understand this, but sentimentally I can’t accept this, just not yet. I know I have to be a big person and be nice and cheerful and all that, but right now I just want to feel angry, possessive and sulky. My grandson is celebrating his second birthday and since my daughter lives in England, we will be having the party at my ex’s house. Of course, this person will be there, and the thought of her “grandmothering” my grandson bothers me. Please give me advice for my heart; the mind knows what it’s supposed to do. I feel so lonely right now.

Granny-Nora replies

First, let me say that your feelings are very normal. These situations are just hard. We want to be rational and think with our brains, but the heart gets in the way of rationality. So don’t berate yourself for having these feelings.

Having said that, my favorite mantra for these situations is, “You can do hard things.” Your first priority needs to be your children and future grandchildren, and what is best for them. You don’t want them to have to choose between you and others they love. You want them to thrive in their relationships with all those they love.

Let me tell you my story. I married my husband two days after my 22nd birthday. He is 12 years older than I am, and he was divorced with a five-year-old son. I fell in love with that little boy instantly. Prior to our wedding, I went to my husband’s ex-wife and told her that I never wanted to interfere in the parenting of her child, and that I hoped we could work together for his benefit. I told her that I would respect the parenting decisions of her and my husband, and that I had no intentions of trying to replace her. Well, all that fell on deaf ears. She truly hated me, and tried to make life miserable for us. The irony of that is that the person she hurt most was her own son.

Years passed, and my stepson became an adult. My husband and I never said anything derogatory about his mother in front of him — and I truly mean never. However, at some point as he became an adult, he realized what a good father he really had, and that his wicked stepmother wasn’t so bad either. About the same time, my husband’s ex-wife moved back into the designated geographical boundaries for our church, and began attending church in our congregation. The ex-wife was given the “calling” of playing piano in the children’s Sunday school, and I was “called” as Second Counselor in the presidency of that Sunday school. We had to work together every Sunday. After all those years, she finally developed a little respect for me, and we were able to worked together quite well.

We will both be eternally grateful that my stepson (her son) saw us working together and respecting each other. You see, my stepson worked as a highway maintenance worker for the State, and while filling a pothole in a freeway exit was killed on December 14, 2007.

My point in telling you this story is that life is short. You never know how long we have to develop close family relationships. While we are grateful and happy that my stepson finally saw us working together instead of against each other, we also mourn the lost time. We mourn the family gatherings that could have been fun instead of tense. We mourn the little boy who had to grow up knowing his mother, father, and stepmother didn’t like each other.

Now, let me tell you about the second man my husband’s ex-wife married. He was a saint. He told me one time that my feet were welcome under his dinner table any time. (She glared at him, but he meant it.) He became the father to my stepson that she did not allow my husband to be. While that tore my husband’s heart apart (and mine), we welcomed it because my stepson desperately needed a man in his life. It was heartbreaking to watch this man take my stepson on fishing trips and help him raise sheep for 4H, but we knew that this man was doing what was best for my stepson — and that’s what mattered. Ironically, she ended up divorcing him too, and he died of cancer not long after my stepson graduated from high school. However, this wonderful man taught my stepson how to do things and helped him grow up.

So, my advice to you is to always put your children and grandchildren’s needs first — regardless of how much it hurts. I know it hurts to have someone else do grandmotherly things, but would you want your grandchildren growing up without the experience of good grandparents? I know it is hard. Just keep telling yourself, “I can do hard things.”

I hope this helps.

Letter #: 419003
Category: Family

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