By now, you’ve probably heard all about the public catfight going on between supermodel stepmom Gisele Bundchen (left) and actress mom Bridget Moynahan (right).
Moynahan dated New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for three years and discovered she was pregnant soon after they broke up, at which point Brady and Bundchen were already dating. Bunchen and Brady are now married and the baby, a little boy, is just under two years-old.
It’s so easy for moms and stepmoms to misunderstand each other... and to trigger each other.
How can we hear what they’re saying differently?
1. BAGGAGE (dragging along old issues that get in the way of current peace)
Bundchen: “We were dating two and a half months when he found out, and it was a very challenging situation. Obviously, in the beginning, it’s not the ideal thing.”
Bitchy take: Way to jump straight into a new relationship! Brady and Moynahan dated for three years. Couldn’t he have waited a bit longer before starting something new?
Kinder, more understanding perspective: If previous relationships haven’t really finished healing or settling, then the ex-girlfriend/ex-wife is not really predisposed to liking the new one. Or vice-versa.
Stuff like this happens. We’ve all done it, even if we know it might be unwise or just asking for trouble. It’s already happened, so just accept it, move forward, and try to make the best of a tough situation.
2. MORAL HIGH GROUND (I'M doing the right thing. No, I am!)
Vanity Fair: “Moynahan’s pregnancy made Gisele wonder whether she should encourage Brady to re-unite with his former girlfriend. “You question at times—‘Should I stay here? Maybe you should work this out,’” she admits. “But when people break up, it’s for a reason.”
Bitchy take: She wondered about it for a second, then thought, “Nahhh....” Moms are more likely to identify with the sense of vulnerability that Moynahan probably felt as a newly single pregnant woman and think, “He left a pregnant woman? What a douche!”
Stepmoms are more likely to think, “Wow, she must have been a real bitch for him to have left her while she was pregnant! Most men wouldn't do that, but if mine did, he had a good reason!”
Kinder, more understanding perspective: To her credit, Bundchen did stop to consider whether she should step aside.... and she’s right, people usually break up when at least one side is good and ready. You can’t stay together just because the woman is pregnant. And we really have no idea what happened between the parents.
Page Six: “Bridget Moynahan is furious with Gisele Bundchen after Bundchen boldly bragged to Vanity Fair about being [a] mommy. ...But while Moynahan is taking the high road and keeping quiet, her friends are not.”
Bitchy take: Fine, she’s tromping all over Vanity Fair scantily clad, looking fabulous, and newly married. But I’M not going to stoop to such lowly depths by duking this out in a public forum.
Kinder, more understanding perspective: Hmmm, one would have to assume that this rebuttal was at least sanctioned by Moynahan and she’s letting her friends speak for her because it helps her look like she’s staying out of the fray. If so, she’s helping the whole situation attract a lot more media attention, although it’s understandable that she would want to say something.
3. LOVE AND DEVOTION (which often leads to the coveted and highly sought-after BETTER PARENT AWARD)
Vanity Fair: "They live in LA 50% of the time, since that’s where the baby lives. 'When we are in L.A. we have Johnny 50 percent of the time,' Gisele says. 'He’s a little angel—the sweetest, most cuddly, loving baby. I feel blessed to have him in my life.'”
Bitchy take: See how much I love him? Even though we’re jet-setting celebrities basking in the adoration of millions, we’re actually setting aside precious time to be involved in this child’s life -- time that could otherwise be devoted to photo sessions and fine dining.
Kinder, more understanding perspective: She’s making a personal commitment to help it work for her husband and his child. And that’s something.... She feels gratitude, affection, attachment — imagine if the opposite were true. It’s a GOOD thing that she seems to love this child, even if it’s awkward for the mother.
4. OWNERSHIP (this land is my land)
Bundchen: "I understand that he has a mom, and I respect that, but to me it’s not like because somebody else delivered him, that’s not my child. I feel it is, 100 percent.
I want him to have a great relationship with his mom, because that’s important, but I love him the same way as if he were mine. I already feel like he’s my son, from the first day.”
Bitchy take: Despite being pregnant, going through labor, and then afterwards, staring down at your little alien monkey with overwhelming love - well, poof (dismissively waving hand). Means nothing. You can be instantly replaced by another woman who is aggressively determined to love your child, just as completely as you do.
A stepmom might be apt to think, Just because you gave birth to this child doesn't mean you own it! There are a million blind spots you have as a mother and I can make up for these. Actually, I have to, for the child's sake.
Kinder, more understanding perspective: However clumsily she may be saying it, Bunchen wants it to work with her new husband. She wants him to understand that what’s important to him is important to her. What occupies his heart will also occupy mine. Even though I am separated from this child by blood, I will refuse to see that delineation - as a show of loyalty and support for my husband. This is our family, however imperfect.
From the mom's perspective, these would appear to be fighting words, as if you're being squeezed out of the picture. The fact that Bundchen is extending her loyalties to her young stepson is touching, but she might want to be a bit more sensitive of how her word's migh
t be perceived by the mother. After all, how would she like another woman saying that about a child she might have? It be really hard to "share" your child with another woman you don't know.
5. PRIVACY (I have the right to control the exposure of personal, private information)
Page Six: "Moynahan's friend continued: 'Don't you think Jack will grow up and read her comments and find them disrespectful to him and his mother? If Tom is such a great father as everyone likes to say, then you would think that he'd respect the privacy of his young child and would ask his wife not to use his son as a publicity prop and a subject of public discussion. Is she is so desperate for attention that she can't find anything more productive to talk about other than Bridget's child?'"
Bitchy take: All's fair in love and publicity and anyone's fair game, child or not. If the most intimate of subjects must be arbitrated in the public arena, then so be it!
Moms might say: you shouldn’t be using the media to establish your parental domain. And any true mother would know that if you felt real love for your child, you’d also feel protective, which you obviously don’t.
Stepmoms might say: I have the right to talk about my family in public if I want - this affects me too. Just because you're the mom doesn't mean you're constantly guided unfailing and ever=present maternal wisdom.
Kinder, more understanding perspective: It would indeed be hard to see your child discussed in public, or pictures being published, without your consent. Inflammatory statements made now, especially in print, have a long half-life and may come back to haunt you later.
According to the Vanity Fair article, the two women have yet to meet each other, which is a shame, but not a surprise.
Can you relate?
Any advice for them?
© 2009 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved