Last week, in what could very well have been the most awkward meeting I have experienced yet, I got to meet Diva’s new Bonus Mom.
Bonus Mom is a concept developed by the Danish child psychologist that all the German ueber-Mamas love, Jasper Juul, and one that I fully embrace. Instead of looking at the ex’s new lady-for-life as the wicked stepmother, I’m taking a cue from Juul and thinking of this third adult in my child’s life as an extra addition to provide her the love and support she needs while growing into a mature person.
And though I told the Baby Daddy this, he insists that anytime I have an issue with him and his total lack of being a grown-up and I refuse to oh, say, allow him to take the Diva camping in a mudhole in freezing weather right after she had the flu, that really I am showing my jealous side. Because, you know, the dolt thinks I still want his sorry bottom back in my bed and in order for that to happen, I first have to prevent him from shacking up in a tent with his girlfriend and my kid. Uh-huh. I hated to break it to the bud but there is no green-eyed monster here. Instead of envy, let’s try another four-letter word: Pity.
Pity for the poor Bonus Mama who’s decided she likes the dude enough to clean up after his dinner-making endeavors explode in the kitchen and leave split peas on the ceiling and to wash the holey socks he’s too stingy to replace and to forgo sleep because of all the snoring. You know, the fun stuff that accompanies “love.”
But decide she did and despite that, I respect her. She took in a pathetic shell of a man (his words after I left him) and took in his daughter, too, and there’s really something to be said for accepting a kid with love even though that kid’s not your own.
I knew from everything that Diva had said about her that Bonus Mama does love my child. Still, I insisted that since the Diva’s staying at her house now that I needed to inspect both the woman and the premises. You wouldn’t just hire a babysitter sight-unseen at someone else’s recommendation, would you? A very uncomfortable lunch date was thence made. And as it goes with the Baby Daddy, said date was broken like five million times, but finally last Sunday I rolled on up to her house for some coffee and cake.
After 12 tedious years together, dude does know that I neither drink coffee in the afternoon nor do I eat cake. I sure don’t wile away my Sunday afternoons chatting with strangers in their kitchen. In an attempt to be friendly, though, and accepting of the German traditions that this Bonus Mama’s going to be handing down to the Diva – like eating chocolate marzipan cake at four in the afternoon even when it’s no one’s birthday – I went along with it. Showed up directly from my spinning class, confident that I looked like a million bucks, because there’s nothing so important when meeting your replacement than looking like you own the place. Cheryl Strayed put this nicely over on Facebook when she wrote about all the self-doubts that crept into her thoughts after running into a woman her ex-husband was dating during the split that Cheryl herself had instigated. No stranger to self-doubt myself, I took Cheryl’s tale as pre-cautionary; I was not going to leave Bonus Mama’s house in tears the way Cheryl had left her brief meeting with her replacement just because I wasn’t thrilled with my hairstyle or the extra bit of chub on my belly.
I didn’t need to worry, though. Because not only is Bonus Mama quite friendly and accommodating. She is also an exact replica of the woman I was when I left the Baby Daddy 2+ years ago. Same hairstyle (none) and color; same brand of jeans that don’t quite fit or flatter; same height and weight (Mummy Tummy); same taste in books and no-nonsense attitude. And dude acted, as expected, exactly the same with her as he had done with me. Some things never change.
But seeing this woman, I realized: I’m really glad I did.
I remember being absolutely, despondently miserable when I was that woman. I never really wanted to be the hausfrau who runs the family show, darning socks and getting on the kids about their homework and letting herself go all to pot because the money spent going to the gym tastes better as chocolate cake. That was who the Baby Daddy wanted me to be, but if there’s anything I’ve learned since being single, it’s that there’s no reason to compromise yourself for someone else’s ideals. If he’s found that woman naturally in his new Bonus Mama, that’s awesome. I’m sure it’ll keep him happy to be with her.
Just as not being with him has kept me so happy…. and helped me become the person I always wanted to be.