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An Open Letter to the Other Woman

Hello.

It’s me. The woman you know, but you don’t know all at the same time.

We haven’t been properly introduced. We haven’t been improperly introduced either. And that has been weighing heavily on me. Heavily, I regret, is an understatement.

I think about you often and wonder what sort of person you are. I wonder because I haven’t actually met you. Not in person. You could say we met casually a very long time ago, but I sincerely hope you’re not using that menial moment as a marker of our acquaintanceship.

I wonder what you think of my children. I’ll confess that I wonder what you think of me. Admittedly, I ask my children about you in the most noninvasive ways possible. They seem to like you, in that they’ve never said anything negative about you. Even so, that still doesn’t bring me comfort.

Allow me to explain further.

My children basically live in your home. You feed them. You go on trips with them. You shop with and for them. You stay overnight in hotel rooms with them. You pick my son up from school. You spend holidays with them. You attend family gatherings with them. They’ve attended countless overnight stays at your home and still, we haven’t met. You and I are complete strangers.

Why is that?

Don’t you want to know me? Don’t you want to make yourself known to the woman whose children you spend so much time with? Why hasn’t that happened yet? It’s been months. Months since you first met my ex and my children. Months since the first time my kids were at your house. Months since you started seeing them regularly every other week.

I see you out of the corner of my eye at community gatherings and sporting events. It’s as if we are both so aware of each other’s presence all while actively avoiding one another in the most awkward and uncomfortable way. Do you see me? Do you know that I see you?

It’s torturous.

Undeniably torturous to know there is another woman in the lives of my children and that same woman is basically an enigma to me.

Do you listen to their stories, no matter how lengthy or incoherent? Do you nurture their insanely curious minds? Do you play games right along with them? Do you console them when they get hurt? Do you hug and kiss my children? Do you scold them? I can’t help but to wonder who the woman is standing in my place, playing mother when I am not around.

These are the burning questions that eat away at me. And all because I haven’t met you. I want to know you. I do. Not because I’m trying to insert myself into your relationship with my kids or my ex. But because it’s respectful. I’m just asking for the same courtesy I’d imagine you’d want from your own ex.

If you’re going to be in my children’s lives, I want to work with you, not against you. I want there to be openness and mutual understanding. All of us have to be on the same team for the kids, in the spirit of co-parenting, and for our own sanity.

But I can’t do that alone.

I can’t force you to meet me or work with me or even understand what I’m feeling. I’m not asking you to like me. All I want is for you to step out from behind the curtain.

After all, you not just the other woman. You are the mother when I’m not around. You are my placeholder and I deserve to know you. 

And though an infuriating amount of time has passed, I don’t think it’s too late. It’s not too late to walk up to me, look me in the eye, and introduce yourself. The ball is in your court, as it has been since you agreed to meet my ex and my children.

If you have no intention of meeting me, perhaps I can enlighten those who are unfortunate enough to journey down the same path as us. Perhaps I can make a difference in someone else’s divorce with my words and my sorrows.

I hope this reaches other divorcees. Being in the dark hurts, especially when children are involved. Be the bigger person. All you can do is try. Try to make connections with each other before including kids – or maybe keep the kids out of it as long as possible.

Not all parties will want to participate, but if you try, you’re bestowing the respect and the common courtesy all divorced parents deserve.

Please, receive this message with sincerity and wholeheartedness. I’ll be here waiting to meet you whenever you’re ready to make that connection.

Sincerely,

The other woman.


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