I was having a conversation with one of my kids yesterday when he blithely referred to his divorced father’s girlfriend as the Bitch. I was shocked by the word (although he’s of the age when he can curse) and I was appalled by his name calling someone who he’s only seen in the arms of his father on Facebook. He doesn’t even know her. He’s never met her and yet, here he was calling her the B. Didn’t I teach him better?
I don’t know her at all. She very well could be a B for all I know, but when I asked why he was calling her that, he said it was because she is his dad’s girlfriend. When we explored the B word further, it was apparent that he was trying to show his loyalty to me, his mom, his father’s ex-wife, by using the derogatory word in reference to the new girlfriend.
What he didn’t expect from me was that I would launch into him and call him on the inaccurate name Bitch.
Me: You don’t even know her, so how can you call her the B?
He: Because she’s dad’s girlfriend.
ME: But, we’re divorced. He can have a girlfriend or twenty of them. It’s his choice.
He: But Mom, he has a girlfriend. (a little whine)
Me: Yes he does. Is that upsetting you? (Because duh, I knew it!)
He: Yeah, of course it does. Why wouldn’t it? My dad left us and now he’s with someone else.
Me: Honey, he didn’t leave you. He left me. He loves you. This woman is with your dad because she likes him and he likes her. Be grateful that he’s found someone to like.
He: But Mom, you don’t have anyone. (He looked at me with quiet eyes.)
Me: Yes, I do. I have you and your sibling. That’s all I need for now. Eventually when I’m ready and you two fly the coop, I will be open to finding someone special as well. I hope you won’t call my new friend the B too!
He: I don’t understand you. Why are you defending the B?
Me: Because, she didn’t break up the marriage. We were through long before she came into his life. That I know for sure. She’s not the reason we got divorced. If she were the reason, then I would probably side with you and use the B word too. (We both laughed.) But she’s not. She’s not the first friend he’s had since he left and who’s to say she won’t be the last? Remember when you found evidence that he was sleeping with someone else? That was long before the divorce was final. And back then, I reminded you that everyone chooses their own way in which to act when they are separated from their spouse. It’s call free will and they can do what they want.
He; But you weren’t out sleeping with other people! (His eyes got teary.)
Me: You’re right. I didn’t do that, but that’s my choice. That was how I chose to live my life. In my heart, I was still married until the ink was dry so I remained celibate. But that’s my choice and that’s me. I needed to put my head on the pillow at night in peace. Everyone’s choice allows them to sleep peacefully, or not. That’s free will. Not everyone thinks like I do, but it doesn’t make it wrong or right. It’s just the way it is.
He; I can’t believe you won’t let me call her the B.
Me: No way! Not on my watch. If you meet her and she acts like a B, then you’ll maybe have a leg to stand on. But for now, you can’t refer to her as the B.
We hugged and laughed and bonded. I feel good about what I said because honestly, I don’t know if she’s a B or not, but I don’t care as long as she’s good to my kids when she meets them, if she meets them. And if she never meets them, then that’s fine too.
The kids and I talked about him having a girlfriend long before he told them about this one. When my kid found the evidence when we were separated, we talked about it. By then, I had seen the signs and knew it was a matter of time. When they brought it up, I felt they were ready to talk about it so then when he did officially tell them that he had a girlfriend, they were able to roll with it. (Yes, I think he should thank me for prepping the kids since he gave them no prep time, nor time to talk about the eventuality. That was left for me to do it, as it always was.)
I didn’t do it for my Ex’s benefit. I did it for my kids because it’s hard to see your parents divorce and then see your dad with someone else cuddled up on Facebook. It’s jarring for a kid. Even when so much time has gone by, it’s still shocking to them because it’s another nail in the closed coffin of possibility that parents can get back together. And they hurt. They resent it. They are upset as anyone can understand. Except maybe their dad. But that’s why they have me to help them along.