When the affair of Arnold Schwarzenneger with the family maid exploded, I almost wrote his wife Maria Shriver a condolence letter telling her that she’s not alone, as I am in the same boat. The only difference is, the love child of her husband is with the mother—while mine is in my house!
Since we’re living in a big compound, I saw this baby girl being tended to by my mother-in-law two months after I myself gave birth. When I asked whose child it was, she said it belonged to her other son who had an affair with a bar girl. That was, of course, a lie, because my brother-in-law is a roaring homosexual!
Then a few months later, a young woman barely out of her teens came to the compound and went directly to my house. She introduced herself as the mother of the baby and said it was her child—by my husband. For proof, she showed me intimate pictures of them in the beach and another in what looked like her bedroom.
When I confronted my husband, he denied it at first but later confessed that they met during one of his out-of-town conferences. My whole world fell apart.
The child was adopted by my in-laws and is now growing up with my own child. I hardly look at her and haven’t even touched her. As a mother, my heart grieves for that child who will never know the constant touch of her own mother. But as a souvenir of my husband’s stupidity, I cannot bear the sight of her, or the thought of me touching her. I haven’t seen or caught my husband play with her as he does our daughter, or even carry her when I am around. I hate their whole family for condoning what he did.
Despite my husband’s never-ending apologies and promise never to hurt me again—our relationship has not warmed up. We now stay in separate rooms and barely talk to each other except for the barest essentials. I don’t know how long I will last in this marriage. I am only 38 and already full of bitterness.
So your husband was a cad and stupid enough not to have adequately protected himself for his fling. But that’s water under the bridge. It’s done!
Now in your midst is an innocent child who has to bear the brunt of the unhappiness of some people around her—namely you. She didn’t ask to be born, or be brought physically in your line of sight. She is just this mass of flesh and bones, whose blank slate of a mind is imprinting every nuance, every word, every experience that drifts her way—memorializing in her gut the very essence of her environment, already becoming part of her developing character. As the child psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott wrote: Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.
Your motherly instinct is clearly oozing from your heart, yet your pride is holding you hostage from what is really your naturally good nature. In trying to obliterate that little baby, you are instead drawing your own blood—penalizing yourself from manifesting your kindness and generosity. You mistakenly think that by ignoring the child, you will be punishing the very people who’ve hurt you, like your husband, his family and this bar girl.
Reverse this unkind trajectory that your mind is focused on, and start looking at this child humanely, as her own person—devoid of whoever her mother was. Remove the invisible strings attached to her that are troubling you, and see her for what she is—a little innocent girl.
Just remember that, in a little while, she will turn into a young adult who will be battling the exact same daily battles everyone goes through. Make it easy on her not to be already burdened by encountering this troubling scenario, just yet—with you leading the way. Stop this cruelty you’re imposing on yourself and to those around you, and start being your wonderful self once again.
To quote another wise man, St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”