"My ex remarried two years ago," explained Susan, a divorced mom I worked with recently. "And my kids just loved her. That was something I tolerated for their sake '- until Mother's Day rolled around last year, and I realized my little one had made two Mother's Day cards in art class. He brought them both home in his backpack, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. He was so excited and pulled one out to give to me. I gently pulled at the tissue paper to read, 'Happy Mother's Day, Gwen!' written in silver glitter. I was so jealous! When my son saw my face, he quickly pulled the card away. 'Oh here, Mommy,' he said as he took the other card from his backpack. 'This one is yours. It's way bigger!' It was the first time I had ever seen my five-year-old embarrassed, and my eyes filled with tears. He thought it was because he had hurt my feelings by making his stepmother a Mother's Day card, but that wasn't it at all. I cried because I contributed to his feeling embarrassed. None of this is what I had planned when I got a divorce."
As this mother explained, jealousy is one of the primary emotions divorced parents face, but not for the reason so many may think. Jealousy of the child's affections for the ex's new partner is often far more difficult to overcome than jealousy associated with the ex meeting someone new. The feelings are often unexpected and confusing, and there are very few places to go that offer direction.
Below are a few tips to help with the confusing emotions many moms and stepmoms, whom I often call bonusmoms, face when they celebrate Mother's Day this year.