'My kids love their stepmum more than me'

"I know I sound selfish but it breaks my heart that my kids prefer her to me."

The end of my marriage was a very sad time of my life. Stuart and I had been married for just four years and have a son and a daughter who are everything to us. We both knew it wasn’t working and even marriage counselling hadn’t helped us, so we came to a mutual decision to part ways. So you could say we were very amicable.

But Stu met his new wife Shelley within three months of us divorcing and that was when the reality of it all really hit me. He moved on so quickly!

The kids went to him every other week, so it was really important to me that I got to know his new wife as soon as possible. What if she was a horrible person who treated my kids badly? I kept thinking of those awful step mother stories we read in fairy tales when we were kids.

He moved on straight away. Image: iStock.

He moved on straight away. Image: iStock.

We had so much in common

So I arranged a coffee meeting with Shelley and the moment I laid eyes on her, I just knew my kids would be okay. She is such a lovely woman and the funny thing is so many people have told me that she is very much like me, we both have bubbly personalities and we’ve both lived in France.

"You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going." - P. J. O’Rourke

She is a few years younger than me and doesn’t have children so that made me think that she might not be keen to have my kids around her. But the opposite is true – she tells me she adores my kids and spends a lot of time with them.

My youngest, Cassie, tells me that Shelley has taught her how to make muffins, cookies and cakes – something I’ve never done with her.

My son Tom comes back from seeing his father to say that he misses Shelley because she makes him laugh a lot. At first, I loved hearing my kids saying how much they like their new step mother but now that they are older, and she really is a big part of their lives, I'm less than thrilled.

'At first I was glad they got along so well.' Image: iStock.

'At first I was glad they got along so well.' Image: iStock.

I can't help but feel a bit heartbroken

It was Shelley that Tom went to when he was being bullied at school. She phoned to tell me that he’d confided in her and she thought it was time the school was notified.

Why didn’t he tell me? He clearly feels much closer to his stepmum.

When it was time for Cassie’s birthday party, she told me she wanted the party at her father’s house so that Shelley would be there. It’s little things like this that really get to me.

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

'It's the little things that hurt the most.' Image: iStock.

'It's the little things that hurt the most.' Image: iStock.

It’s like I’m suddenly second best

I realise much of it has to do with the fact that, as the mother, I’m the one who disciplines the kids, not Shelley.

Also, Shelley is all about fun times and I’m the one who has to put my foot down. I was devastated recently when I heard that Shelley was taking the kids to the Gold Coast for a holiday while Stu was away for work.

When they got home, I never heard the end of it, how wonderful Shelley is and how much they miss her when they’re at my house.

I know I sound selfish, and I should just be thankful that my kids feel comfortable enough with their step mum that I don’t need to worry. But I’m dreading the teenage years and hoping, by then, they will come to me when they have problems or want help with anything, and not only turn to the ‘other mother’ in their life.

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Just say "No." Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child's school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

DAILY DILEMMA: Girl doesn't want stepmother take new surname