Thursday, March 10, 2011

Untitled, Because I Couldn't Think of Anything That Worked

A couple of weeks ago, the girls met their father’s girlfriend. He told me that the introduction went well and the girls had seemed to like her. They met at California Academy of Sciences—an excellent choice, as it’s one of their favorite places to go—and they told me that she was really cool and pretty and nice, and we agreed that it was good that daddy was happy.


But the girls were also . . . clingy. And more emotional than usual. Not in the vein of Charlotte’s epic temper tantrums—we seem to have finally outgrown those—but just more emotional. Weepy, almost. And, since then, they’ve slept in my bed every night they’ve been with me.


About a week ago, I thought that I had finally figured it out and, as Hannah and I sat on the floor playing with Lego’s, I said, “You know, it’s OK if you like her. It doesn’t mean that you love me any less.”


The look of relief on her face made me both happy and horribly sad: happy, that I’d figured it out and had managed to set her at ease, but sad that she had felt that way at all, and for almost a week. So I also told her something that a very good friend of mine once said, “Having another person who loves you can only be a good thing.”


I thought it was an excellent way to look at the situation and, happily, Hannah agreed. But she then added that she worried about me when she and Charlotte aren’t with me. So we had a long talk about how she is only eight and gets to be the kid and how I am a grown up and I have friends and work and I go out now and again and that I have fixed almost everything around the apartment that needed it and that she really, truly, doesn’t need to worry about me.



Last Spring, a friend sent me a link to a Gawker column about the novelist Justine Musk. The gist of the article was that, while Ms. Musk did blog about her protracted and somewhat messy divorce from Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, she did so without rancor and without getting nasty, something I can totally appreciate as I have tried to do the same with my few divorce-related posts. But that wasn’t the part that struck me. The part that got me was the mention about her meeting the new girlfriend, Talulah, and how she had handled it, telling her in an email:


“I would rather live out the French-movie version of events (the ex-wife and new fiancee become friends and various philosophies are pondered) than the American version (one is 'good' and one is psycho, there's a big catfight sequence and someone gets thrown off a balcony)—the latter of which seems vastly overrated.”


This approach seems completely logical to me, particularly when there are children involved. Because, just as it can only be good for them to have one more person who loves them, it can only be dreadful to have more tension and more people arguing and saying nasty things to or about one another.


And so, while I don’t believe that she and I will be out shopping together for a dress for the Father/Daughter dance next month (Hannah’s suggestion), I don’t bear her any malice. There were problems in my marriage long before she arrived on the scene, problems that had nothing to do with her. Contrary to rumor (and some of my own posts :), I am actually pretty sane and, when the occasion demands, rational. And I would do anything for Hannah and Charlotte.


I just wanted everyone to be happy.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nicely done.

Anonymous said...

As the adult child of a divorce when I was seven, I can say I commend your response to your girls.

I am also an Ex step-mom who gave nothing but love to two boys that were not my own. WHo also from lived with us for long periods of time. Their mother told them only their dad was invited to events, because I wasn't family was hurtful. When one son finally told me, I told her that she should be so lucky that there was someone else in the world who loved her boys. I didn't think one could get too much love.

Your doing the right thing Melanie!

Erin H. said...

if only others could follow your lead, there would be fewer distressed children (& adults for that matter) in the world... well said.

Kevin said...

Well thought, well put.

Thomas Kriese said...

Thanks for being a good mother to the girls, Melanie.

twinga said...

Wonderful post, Melanie!

Anonymous said...

Very moving post, Melanie. You and the girls diserve the best.

uncle wally said...

very compassionate.

Sharene said...

Melanie not only are you a good mother you surpassed that and are an extraordinary mother and friend and all around wonderful person.
Also your grace and honor in which you have handled this very very difficult time has continually amazes me.

Melanie K said...

Thank you, Erin, Kevin, Uncle Wally, Dani, Sharene, and all of the Anonymi (Anonymouses?). And, Anon #2, I am so sorry that you had to go through that, but good for you for loving the kids for themselves, and for reminding the mom that a child can't have too much love.

JT said...

You know, I've been through this multiple times, and each time the words that come to mind feel...inadequate. Suffice it to say: you truly are an awesome mom, and the girls are lucky to have you. There are many who would do well to pay attention to your example and learn from it.

Melanie K said...

Thank you, JT. I'm trying. God knows I screw it up now and again, but I'm trying. :)

JT said...

Don't we all...

Maybe I should rewrite the joke about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Intelligent Blonde to include the Perfect Parent. ;)

You're doing great.