By Amy R.
"Mama, do you like Suzy*?"
My mind froze. I don't know how long I expected it would take before my daughter asked me my thoughts on my ex-husband's new wife-to-be. We had random conversations about Suzy's house or about things that Isabelle did with her father, Suzy, and Suzy's son. I guess I just hoped to continue ignoring the fact that Isabelle had another person in her life that wasn't really a part of mine.
I'm not a bitter person. I mean, there are times when I call Suzy "what's her face" or "that woman" to my friends or co-workers, but to Isabelle, she's always Suzy. I don't roll my eyes, talk badly, sarcastically, or bitterly about Suzy or my ex. I figure that it's not only unhealthy for Isabelle to see that part of me, but I also don't want to influence her. I want her to make decisions on her own and the happier those decisions are, the better.
I am so grateful that Isabelle has a home with her father that is full of love and acceptance and that Suzy's parents seem to have accepted Isabelle as one of their own. I am so thankful that Isabelle doesn't have to feel left out or forgotten because of another child (her age) in the house. Suzy loves my daughter, and as much as my relationship with my ex is distant and cold, I can only show appreciation in my own heart for my daughter being so fortunate in both her homes.
Do I sometimes worry that Isabelle will like Suzy better than me or that the home that her father makes with her will be deemed "better" than mine? You bet I do. But I think that's pretty normal and expected. So every time that worry flashes through my mind, I remind myself that my bond with my daughter is one that can't be replaced with remarriage or additional people. We're a family unit within ourselves, and she knows who her mother is.
So after I pull myself together, I smile at Isabelle and say, "I don't really know Suzy, but you like her right?" She nods and runs back to play with her Polly Pockets, oblivious to the struggle that sometimes fills my mind.
*names changed to protect identities
Amy R. is the twenty-something mother of Isabelle. She is a high school teacher who lives in Mexico, Maine, and is trying to find the funny side of life as a newly divorced mom.