Why I Went No-Contact with BM
When I first moved in with my husband, I thought his kids were...small people. I didn't (and still don't, by choice) have children, and I had no preconceived notions about what to expect from them.
They treated me just fine; the daughter (then 9) warmed up to me quickly, glad to have another "girl" in the house. The son (then 5) didn't treat me any way other than an entity who was kind to him and made jokes about the cat (which went over quite well).
But I did enter into this situation TOTALLY BLIND...I did no research about exwives or being a second wife and other than FDH explaining that BM lived "off X interstate exit" nearby, I didn't know what to expect from her.
All I knew was I loved FDH, and his children (who he had/has primary custody of barring every other weekend) were warming up to me.
When I first met BM it was at a birthday party for SD, which was held at a local skate rink. She was cordial and nice, in attendance with her own FDH. I did notice that she made a slight against my FDH, but I took it, naively, as humor.
Soon thereafter I became my skids' primary caregiver; everything you'd expect a mom to do: meals, transportation to school, laundry, doctor's appointments, etc. I enjoyed this. In the interest of respecting BM, I emailed her frequently with questions, updates, and asking for permission to do such and such.
She seemed to sincerely appreciate our correspondences, although generally I would feel insecure and out-of-sorts afterwards, I could not pinpoint why. I didn't feel a sense of entitlement toward the skids, but for all the effort I was putting into raising HER children, I certainly felt a huge sense of entitlement coming from HER.
Why did she constantly need to remind me what "moms do"? Wasn't I doing it? Why did she constantly have to remind me that SHE was their mother? Didn't I defer to her enough? Didn't I reassure her, personally, enough that I respected the fact she even "let" me bond with her children as much as I had?
Since their divorce, BM only had the kids six nights a month. I might have thought that was weird, but I didn't give it much thought until I noticed that SHE was taking credit for things I had done! If one of the skids had an accomplishment, maybe one I had been instrumental in helping to achieve, she would announce how she had done it herself, and her cronies gave her accolades. It became apparent to me that I was being whitewashed away -- that I didn't exist.
This bothered me SO MUCH in the beginning. My rage began to fuel. Then DH and my mother in law began to educate me in the ways BM had been doing this, for years. My eyes began to open, but I still felt obligated to appeal to her, and be a friend, on some level. DH would ask my why I felt compelled to email with her. I told him that since she was their mom, I felt like I had to. Out of respect, or for whatever reason, I don't know, but I thought it was the right thing to do.
As the kids got older, I kept BM aware of school schedules (she never seemed to be able to look them up for herself), apprised her of their progress or troubles, stayed in contact over issues of cleanliness, health, and other matters I thought a mom might want to know about. Sometimes BM would respond with great curiosity and grand promises of help, but none ever came. She would say she would attend XYZ event but at the last minute, could not come. Things like parent-teacher conferences, spring programs, etc.
I stayed vigilant, though. BM and DH were experiencing their own troubles regarding child support and BM's lack of paying it. This bothered me greatly, as she would promise to pay, putting me in situations WHOLLY inappropriate for me to be in, sometimes waiting for days for her to come by our house with a check. I stayed out of that conversation, 100%. I told her I was NOT a party to her and DH's discussions about finances.
Eventually, though, things became so tense between her and DH that when the final dam broke regarding a "miscommunication" over something VERY important about SD, I decided I had enough. This was four years in to my marriage with DH and this final lie was the straw that broke the camel's back. I think I sent her one more email about SS's teacher for the next school year, but then I went radio silent.
She never questioned why; I think she knew why. We have only barely acknowledged each other since then. I still do much of what I did before, but I had found StepTalk about three years ago and began my journey into "letting go" of things I could not control, one being what BM does. I would have much preferred to have been able to admire and genuinely like BM, as I could deal with jealousy much more than deal with constantly questioning why she doesn't seem to care about my skids nearly as much as a mom, in my opinion, should.
She has had two new children with her new DH since I met her, and I try not to speculate too much about how different she might be with them than she is my skids. My SD is a sweet, very intelligent and loving child, as is my SS, and sometimes I feel so terrible for them that their younger siblings "get" to live with mommy, but for some reason they do not.
But most of all, back to the title of this post, going no-contact with BM has meant for me:
No pressure to be fake
No pressure to worry about if she's lying to me
No responsibility for helping her be a "mother"
She's not in my inbox
She's not texting me
I don't have to hear her lies or excuses
No lectures about what "motherhood" means
And most of all, she knows that I don't care what she has to say, as long as it doesn't hurt the precious children I have had the pleasure and honor to protect and raise.
If I could give what I think is a very valuable piece of advice, it would be to make sure, even if your heart is pure, to keep a very healthy and distinct boundary with your DH's ex, especially if you are new to this. You really don't owe her anything. You don't have to explain, you don't have to bow down, you don't have to do anything but be honest with your DH about who you are. Being FB friends or email buddies might feel like a good way to break the ice, but good fences make good neighbors. Plus, you might save yourself in the long run from feeling like a fool, having invested so much psychic energy in someone who never really intended to see you as an equal -- mom or not.