Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Catty got your tongue?

Women are catty and competitive. It's a fact of life. It's built into our DNA. We check each other out at the mall, in the grocery store, at restaurants. We compare clothes, jobs and 401k's.  I mean, I love my friend Jenny, but I need to get the new Michael Kors bag before she does. I adore Katrina, but it has to be said that she has been visiting the Cheeto department at the grocery store a little too often. And don't get me started on Janelle...uh, those pores. She really needs a facial.

And these are the women I truly love.
So I'm sure you can all relate to the quiet, secret and completely in my own head competition to the 357th power that occurs when Mama Ex is concerned. It doesn't happen immediately, either. It's a strange phenomenon that occurs over time, whether you intend it to or not. One minute you're meeting Mama Ex for the first time and thinking, "She seems nice," and the next minute you're watching her pick up the kids and fuming, "Does she ALWAYS have to wear high heels? Cripes, it's Sunday afternoon."

I used to think that comparing myself to Mama Ex was completely my step kids fault. After all, when we pick up the kids from school, it starts immediately.

Mommy got a new purse from her boyfriend this weekend.

Mommy stayed up until 3:00 in the morning with us on Saturday watching scary movies! She is so awesome!

Mommy took us to the counselor when the scary movies scarred us for life. (Okay, this didn't really happen.)

Mommy is going on a date tonight and I think his name is Cristopher!

When the kids are spouting off the low down on what's going on with Mommy, it isn't like I'm going to ignore them. They want to share what their mom is up to, and it's only natural for me to listen, right?

Yes, to an extent.

The problem arose when I realized that the kids were no longer volunteering information about Mommy...I was requesting it. I didn't even realize I was doing it until the other day when I told Hubs that Mama Ex is going on a first date with a pilot tonight.  "How the hell do you know this?" he asked. "The kids told me." I replied. But did they tell me? Or did I pull it out of them.

Yeah, I pulled.

So what harm is this really going to do? Hubs and Mama Ex have a not great relationship, so it isn't like she's going to tell us about her personal life on her own. What if she's dating a total psycho and we don't find out until it's too late and he kidnaps the kids and moves to Montana? The truth is, there's nothing wrong with knowing what is going on with Mama Ex relative to what will affect the girls and their safety. But a first date is really none of my business. And neither is what size jeans Mama Ex wears. Or if she really is a natural blonde. (I know it's a home box kit, I just know it.)

Comparing myself to Mama Ex is actually indicative of a deeper problem. I simply want approval from my stepkids. I know they love her "to the moon and back" (a quote I'm so jealous I didn't think of using first) and I want them to love me that way, too. They look at her as if she's absolute perfection, so if I can get any tid bit of dirt that makes her seem human, it in turn makes me feel better. And there's a word for that.


I should be glad if Mama Ex finds a new boyfriend that flies a plane and has a $20 million trust fund, because the girls will benefit from that. If Mama Ex bakes 50 cupcakes from scratch and become "Mother of the Year" at the school, I should be glad the kids have a mom they can be proud of. But constantly comparing myself to her is just as futile as when I do it to my own friends. I'll never be her, and she'll never be me. (And Hubs is just fine with that.) The kids love us both differently, so we should be proud of our differences and embrace them, not use those differences to keep score on who has the better earrings.

So the next time my step daughters jump in the car after school, I won't go fishing for the skinny on Mama Ex. Instead, I'll ask them how their Math test went, or what fun hairstyle I can help them try tomorrow. I'll focus on getting the good info on their lives...instead of hers. Asking about them will feel so much better than digging for dirt on her - and no amount of blonde hair dye can change that.

Do you ever compare yourself to Mama Ex? How does that go for you?


  1. Competition between women can be fierce…truer words were never written, Ruby! I think the best point you are getting at here, however, is that it is only competition when more than one person is involved. Therefore, you have the choice not to compete. I love how you share your honest experiences and temptations to "one up" compare yourself to others and criticize them…and how you came to realize that, especially in the blended family world…this is only causing more damage and dysfunction.

    In my situation, the Mama Ex is my life interrogates my bonus daughter about every little detail of her life here at our house. We used to just cope with having to overhear my bonus daughter spout out all the details to her mom while she was on the phone because she would be in the car with us while talking to her or in the same room. We soon learned the easiest way for us to not only help teach our bonus daughter how to respect her own mom by giving her mom her full attentions while she is on the phone with her mom, but also prevent us from needlessly having to hear the interrogation (and, of course, want to jump in and tell Mama Ex to cut it out), was to have her go to her room when she calls her mom.

  2. You are so right! Listening to the stepkid convo's with Mama Ex is a disaster waiting to happen. We can't control what they talk about when they're over at her house, so why try and control it when they're in ours? It just puts everything in a negative space.

    Thanks for your comment! I'm so glad you enjoy the post! Best to you.