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Mom Outraged After Learning Her Ex-Husband’s New Wife Told Her Son To Call Her ‘Mommy’

Kristyn Lapp/Unsplash

One of the problems with a marriage breaking up when there are children involved is that the parents have to stay in-touch to a certain extent.

And sometimes it can be really hard to watch someone move on, empathized the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

While Redditor Visual-Discussion570 didn’t have any particular concerns about her ex-husband remarrying, she was not comfortable with her young son bonding with his new stepmother.

When she cringed away from the new name he gave his stepmom, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was being selfish.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for not letting my son see my husband’s new wife?”

The OP left her son with her ex while she went on a business trip.

“My ex husband and I have been divorced for more that 2 years now. We have a 5 year old son who I have sole custody of, and he visits his father once a week.”

“A few months ago, I was promoted in my job and got the opportunity to go on a business trip to South Korea.”

“I was reluctant to go because it’d mean I have to be separated from my son for 4 months, but I know it would benefit us in the long run so I decided to go.”

“My son stayed with his father and his new wife.”

The OP wasn’t particularly comfortable with the new stepmom in the picture.

“The truth is, I’ve held a bit of a grudge against this woman. They were co-workers and knew each other before we got divorced.”

“When our marriage began deteriorating, I had a gut feeling that there was something going on between them, but I didn’t have enough evidence to prove it so I never said anything.”

“But not even one month after we divorced, the two of them got together, which proves my suspicions correct, but of course he’d never admit it.”

The OP was surprised at the new relationship that developed while she was gone.

“When I got back from my business trip, I went to my ex’s house to pick up my son and saw him there with the wife.”

“I called out to him my and to my dismay, he didn’t come running to me and just continued playing with his ‘stepmom.’ I had to go over and pick him up before he’d finally acknowledge me.”

“When we were leaving, he fussed around and didn’t want to go, staying glued to her side.”

“Clearly they had bonded during the time I was gone, and maybe I’m being petty, but it made me really jealous and upset, like I’d been betrayed.”

“When I finally managed to get him in the car, he poked his head out and said, ‘Bye Mommy!”, which made me shocked. Apparently she had told him to call her that.”

The OP didn’t want her ex and his wife to be very involved in her son’s life.

“Now when we’re at home, he would frequently ask to go to his dad’s house outside of the visiting day, and said he missed mommy.”

“I told him I’m his mommy and he says, ‘I’m talking about the other mommy.'”

“I was honestly heartbroken, my son had been very attached to me ever since he was born, but now it seems like his attitude has completely changed.”

“I didn’t want them to grow closer, and I figured that if he could grow distant with me after not seeing me for a while, he would probably forget about the wife in a couple weeks.”

The OP and her ex-husband got into an argument.

“I told his dad the next time he came to pick him up not to go to his house if his wife was there.”

“He asked me why and I said that she was causing a rift between me and my son.”

“He called me crazy and began to leave, but I told him I was serious, and that I wouldn’t let our son go with him unless he promised.”

“He agreed but then when my son got home, I asked him what he did, and he said he and mommy and daddy went to the mall.”

“This seriously irritated me so I called my ex and asked him why he broke his promise.”

“He said I was acting ridiculous, and that I had no right to keep him from his family.”

“Except that I do, and this woman wasn’t his parent, so she was not entitled to spend time with him.”

“My former in-laws even called me up and said what I was doing was selfish and petty.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some empathized with the OP but also thought she was being petty. 

“I watched my friend’s 4-year-old son for 3 days and he called me ‘Mommy’ more than a handful of times. He was just associating the woman currently taking care of him with the role he was used to, and who knows, without his mom around, maybe it was comforting.”

“I think this is normal and after 4 months, to be expected. Also, if he’s only 5 now and the stepmom is nice, there is a high chance he continues to refer to as some form of ‘Mom’ because that is the role she will also play in his life.”

“OP, I feel for you, but you are being petty and YTA for putting your feelings above something and someone that makes your son happy.” – izshetho

“The thought of my child calling anyone else mommy breaks my heart. I feel for you.”

“However, yes. You are jealous and being petty. You know this. It is wonderful your son has another parental figure in his life that takes care of him and he adores.”

“Your son doesn’t know about the possible infidelity and honestly? It. Does. Not. Matter. What matters is your son.”

“Love is limitless. Love is unconditional.”

“You are being TA.” – TypicalNefariousness

Others were more concerned about the OP just being selfish. 

“OP leaves for four months and that woman helps to raise OP’s child because that was convenient for OP, but it is not ok that they ‘bonded’ over months of her raising him? And now that OP is back and doesn’t need the help, she would just as soon that the new wife disappears? This is just really appalling and so, so self-centered.” – SuperLoris

“I wouldn’t be so quick to assume it’s the stepmom who initiated the boy calling her mom.”

“My dad forced my sister to call every single one of his wives and girlfriends mom, and her world was hell if she didn’t. He tried to make me too, but he didn’t have me as much and I refused, but he made a deal about it every time anyway.”

“If this was son’s idea though, OP should have really seen it coming after leaving her son 100% with her ex and his wife.”

“And she should have been prepared for him to give her the cold shoulder, too. That’s a very common reaction from small kids who have been abandoned for a long length of time (and even if OP doesn’t see it that way, her son definitely does).”

“When I was 8, my mom had to leave me with my daycare for 2 weeks for a family emergency. She called me often, promised to return as soon as she could, and I still remember how alone I felt that whole time.” – kraftypsy

A few questioned the OP’s expectations after being away for four months. 

“I’d like to know what OP expected to happen when she left her 4-year-old kid with her ex and his new wife for four months. this outcome honestly seems like it should have been predictable.” – L3GION__1183

“I mean, yeah, it’s a great opportunity but 4 months is a long, long time to a 5-year-old.”

“Did OP call and check in every night or make effort? Because if OP was talking to the son regularly, I bet she would’ve known about the ‘mommy’ thing when he said it in conversation about his day or whatnot.” – Electronic-Ad-

“I remember being that age and staying with a family friend because my parents were going away for two weeks.”

“I didn’t forget who they were, of course, but it felt like forever, and it took me a while to adjust after they picked me up. I also (according to my mother) did not come running when they showed up to get me.”

“Being gone for four months? I’m sorry, but OP should have seen this coming. It may have benefited them both financially in the long run, but there was always going to be an emotional cost.” – DiTrastevere

But some thought the most important thing was the increased stability in the son’s life. 

“The problem is not that she left the kid with the other parent, that’s what the other parent is for. She’s being petty about the bond her son created with his stepmom who took care of him along with the other parent during her absence, regardless if it was a necessary absence or not.”

“I see nothing wrong with kids having great bonds with their stepparents, it’s kind of necessary. I have a child that has a stepmother, although she came into his life when he was a pre-teen, but it makes me really happy that they get along. And I’m grateful for the patience and love she has towards him.” – FinalBlackberry

“Of course, it was reasonable, and thoughtful, for her to get the father to look after their child. Her jealousy on return is over the top, and she should address that.”

“Frankly, any child that has more than one parent that loves them is lucky, and one with 3 or more loving adults in their life is going to do well.” – fyrdude58

“I wouldn’t assume that the new wife told the kid to do that. Kids have a tendency to decide what to call their caregivers on their own. It makes a ton of sense that a five-year-old would begin to call their stepmother ‘mom’ on their own if they have a positive relationship.”

“And I can see how it would be difficult for the new wife to reject that title because it’s a special thing to have a child feel that way about you.”

“He obviously knows OP is his mom, but he has two of those now. It’s natural that he misses his other set of parents after being there for so long. I can see how it hurts OP to hear him call someone else that, but trying to keep her son away from someone who he obviously loves just because she’s jealous is ridiculous.”

“I have a few friends with baby daddies they’ve split from and pretty much all of them are thrilled when an ex’s partner loves their child because then they’re an extra person to love the kid and make their life better. OP may be a wonderful mom in every other aspect, but it’s f**ked up that she is so bent out of shape about this that she is trying to deprive her kid of a positive person in his life.”

“This just has me heated. I went to someone’s house and she got jealous of her dog wanting pets from me so she crates her and that p**sed me off so thinking about it in relation to a little kid is obviously gonna bother me too.” – livlivesforbrains

While the subReddit could empathize with the OP feeling hurt by her son calling his stepmother “Mom,” too, they otherwise did not agree with her concerns.

Rather, it was more important to them that the son’s support system was growing, and anything short of that after four months would have been excusable.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.