For years I read a debate board for moms and step moms. Rock Star would ask me why I was reading it and I would tell her I was taking notes for when she got her own stepmom. Little did I know…
I was always solidly on the side of the moms. I had very strict lines drawn in my own imaginary life as a divorced mom with a step mom for my own children and a potential stepfather for my own kids.
I remember being amazed at the women who would admit that their step kids didn’t like them. I could never understand why they would put themselves through that. I told myself I would walk away because I didn’t need that kind of drama.
Or they didn’t like the kids. I found those women to be horrible, like they were putting up with the kid in order to get what they really wanted- the man.
I was disgusted by the men who would put the new wife or girlfriend ahead of the existing kids and I felt bad for the kids of the first marriage when they were replaced by the new family.
I always said I would never date a man if his kids didn’t like me. I refused to be the reason a father walked away from his kids, and I would never want to put someone in the position of having to choose between me and his kids.
I always said I would never date until I was legally divorced, and I promised myself I wouldn’t get involved with a guy who had only recently divorced, much less one who hadn’t even finished the process.
I still rail against cheaters who believe their happiness is the be all and end all, not caring at all about the damage left in their wake.
Yet, here I am. I began dating before I was legally divorced. Who the hell knew it was going to take over two years and three court dates before I would be free? The guy I ended up falling head over heels for wasn’t divorced yet; his own wife had left him and moved in with her boyfriend only two months before I met him.
Let me give you some friendly advice. Do as I say and not as I do! The beginning of our relationship was filled with insecurities for me. Chief amongst my worries? Was I a replacement? Was he comparing me to his wife, and if he was, did I come out ahead? Did he miss her? Did he wish I looked more like her? She may be a lying, cheating alcoholic who is batshit crazy but apparently she’s thin and petite.
I remember one particular afternoon he was having a meltdown over a picture that was posted on Facebook. She was floating down the river in a bikini (so I was told; I never saw the picture) and he was seriously losing his shit. I think it was because she was out enjoying herself while he was left with all the responsibilities but it’s been almost a year now so who knows? I cried myself to sleep that afternoon, thinking he wanted some alcoholic chic thin woman who could parade around in a bikini. That’s not me. It will never again be me. Who wants a faithful fatty when you can have hot, thin, and batshit crazy? They always say the crazy ones are the best, you know!
He got through their anniversary like a champ. That didn’t trigger him at all. Her birthday, on the other hand? I was once again wondering what the hell I was doing.
As I told him later, I knew what I was getting into when I started dating him. Although I wasn’t divorced I did have almost two years between D-Day and the time I started dating. I had already worked through many of the things he was now dealing with; I had to remind myself of that quite often.
Here’s a funny little story for you to add to the above. He recently learned that his STBX came over to the house on their anniversary and left him a note telling him that she loved him, along with a disc of old pictures. His son found it and took it because he figured his dad didn’t need to deal with the craziness.
Even now I wonder- why would he take it? Did he think his dad would run back to her? Did he think he would be heartbroken by the message? At that point we had been seeing each other for three months. Did he not see the changes in his dad? Did he not truly believe he was over her? Was there something there that told the kid if his mom opened the door his dad would rush right through in order to get back together?
This is why my advice to those of you freshly divorced or separated is to not date someone who is in the beginning stages of this shit show. Even as fantastic as the mobster is I was still flooded with insecurities and feeling like a replacement. It’s one thing to be told you are not a replacement; it’s another thing entirely to believe it. There were times, especially in the beginning, when I felt like I had absolutely nothing to offer and that everything I did offer she already did and did it better. When those triggers hit him it was hard to remain strong and have faith in what we had. It’s hard to “compete” with 25 years of memories, especially when a lot of that was spent as a happy couple and doing things as a family. Even now I sometimes think it would have been better if we had met this May instead of last May. It would have given him time to process this enormous loss and I wouldn’t have ever felt like a replacement. It would have given his kids more time to adjust to the idea of their father dating someone new. It would have “looked” better. I would have been completely divorced by the time I met him; he would hopefully have been in the process of it.
Really the kids have been the biggest issue. Specifically his kids. Maybe mine are just wired differently. At first I thought it was because they had had almost two years to get used to the idea that their parents were apart and dating, but honestly, within days of me making the announcement regarding the divorce my kids were asking me if I was going to start dating and if I was planning on getting remarried. They were also fine with me dating and not fine with their dad and Harley because they knew he had cheated and I had not.
His on the other hand? His oldest is fine with it. Of course, his oldest has also been through a cheating wife and being left, so he understands. His middle son originally was okay with it, or so we thought, and then decided he wasn’t ready to see his parents with other people. He also apparently was very concerned with whether or not I was fat.
Yes, his mother might have been a liar and an alcoholic who was passed out drunk most of the time. She may have cheated on his dad at least twice, brought her lovers around and passed them off as “friends”, and disappeared for days at a time this last affair. She may have thrown him under the bus during the intervention they held and texted suicide threats to him and his siblings. She may have told him numerous times that she was no longer his mom or that she was “done” with him. But by God she’s thin so that makes her a much better person than me, or at least a much better partner.
He’s getting married in October and after informing the mobster that he and his fiancee were still mulling over whether or not they were going to give both of his parents a plus one, or neither of them would be allowed to bring someone, I took myself out of the three ring circus and let the mobster know I wouldn’t be attending even if I were invited. There was more to it than just that. He had also let his dad know that they had people ready to escort anyone who was not behaving out and away from the reception. Yeah kid, I think you might have to worry more about your thin, alcoholic, crazy mom than your dad and his fat girlfriend. I know how to behave. She does not.
Ultimately it boils down to this: He doesn’t really want me there; they would both be merely tolerating me. And truthfully I do worry about Batshit Crazy causing a scene simply because I’m there. This will be one less thing they have to worry about on their big day. Thankfully they have bouncers in place in case anyone does act up.
Things aren’t much better with the youngest son which is a pity because he reminds me so much of Picasso. He has told his dad that he will be cordial to me (and he has been) but he wants no relationship with me.
Well that’s hurtful! I’m a divine person.
We were all together over New Year’s and I thought things were going well. I guess he told his uncle that it was “awkward”. I think the only thing I could have done to make it less awkward would have been to have not been there. Seriously! I am a low pressure kind of gal. It’s not like I was falling all over myself trying to make conversation and be relevant to his life. I didn’t urge him to sit on my lap and call me Mommy! I hung back. Made conversation when it was relevant. But that was awkward.
I do have one success story. His youngest, a daughter, started off not wanting to know my name. A few months ago she sent me a picture of her in her prom dress the day she bought it. A month ago she sent me a sweet message thanking me for everything I had done for her since I entered her life. I guess I’m not all bad.
This is where the cognitive dissonance comes in. I don’t want to be one of those women who causes a rift between a great dad and his kids. I don’t want his kids seeing me as the woman who took their dad away. I don’t want to be one of those women who only thinks of her own happiness and everyone else be damned.
I guess we could argue that the fact I even have these thoughts running through my mind means I’m not one of those women.
The reality is I no longer care what his kids think. Don’t get me wrong. There is still a part of me that wants everyone to be happy and get along. Note I’m not saying we would be one big blended family; I really think our kids were far too old for that to happen. I would like to think we could take a vacation together or spend a holiday together though. But the biggest part of me says: I’m over it. They can get on board or they can get left behind. I’m too old for this shit. I went through hell in my first marriage and for the last 2 1/2 years of my life. I’m not dealing with crap from anyone anymore.
That makes me feel guilty. Because I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to be like a cheater who does everything according to what feels good and who thinks only of his or her happiness, never weighing the toll it takes on those around them. Yet at the same time what are my other options?
I could leave him. What would that accomplish though? I could be a martyr, sacrificing my happiness for his kids. He has already said he would be miserable. And his kids? The sad truth is it’s not like they would even care. The fact that I walked away because they weren’t comfortable would not even register with them. They certainly wouldn’t be shamed into feeling bad about the fact their behavior has led to their dad being miserable. Not to mention, they’re not around that often. Me leaving him wouldn’t suddenly result in either of his boys dropping by more often.
The other reality is his kids are not small children. They won’t be living with us. The middle son who finds it so difficult to not have his parents together and to see them with other people is engaged and getting married! He just bought a house. He rarely sees his dad- by his own choice. Because he’s always so busy. This is not some 13 year old who would be trapped with an evil stepmother.
I also know that he has practically begged his daughter to move up with him, and would take his youngest son with him in a heartbeat as well. His door is always open. They are the ones who don’t want to move. His son, in fact, is thinking about moving back to their home state where the oldest resides.
The other angle to this is that I didn’t do anything. I didn’t break their family up. Their dad wasn’t sneaking around behind their mom’s back to meet up with me. He wasn’t spending afternoons or weekends away with me and then going home to his clueless wife, telling her he loved her and wanted to grow old with her. She was living with her boyfriend at the time we met. She had already left.
Sure, some could argue that he wasn’t divorced yet and if I wasn’t in the picture then maybe he would have taken her back every time she attempted to keep him hooked on her line. What kind of life is that though? What kind of message is that? I think so little of myself that I allow my spouse to go off and fuck whomever whenever and when my spouse decides to come back home I’m always ready and willing to forgive and forget and take that lying cheater back. Until they go off and do it again. Of course, I’ll be here waiting because that’s my role in life. To wait patiently for my cheater to get bored of fucking strange people.
Then I look at CF, going to cheer competitions and show and tell. Her kids have accepted him and he broke up their family! A key difference could be he was buying them off…. nonetheless, he’s the cheater and her kids are fine with him.
I’m not the cheater. I’m a good person. I’m kind and funny. I’ve been told I have the patience of Job. His siblings see the difference in him. Why can’t his kids? He’s gone from being a heartbroken, sobbing mess into what he is today. My own daughter says, “What’s their problem? Why don’t they want their dad to be happy? I know when you are sad or stressed out it makes me sad and anxious. I prefer it when you are happy.” I’ve told him maybe he wasn’t miserable long enough. Or maybe he did such a bang up job of putting on a happy face and shielding them from the fallout of their mother’s behavior they didn’t realize how unhappy the union was.
I hate feeling like I’m coming between a man and his kids. I worry about how they might feel with him moving up here and hanging out with my kids. Will they think they’ve been replaced? Will they resent me for taking their dad away? That cognitive dissonance is a bitch.
At the heart of it all I just would like to be accepted. I’d like for them to get to the point where they realize I’m a good person and I make him happy. I’d like for them to wrap their minds around the fact that their dad is a more pleasant person to be around now that he isn’t trying to police his wife and keep her from drinking. He doesn’t wake up with a pit in his stomach because he has no idea how the day is going to unfold. Will she be drunk? Will she be sober? He doesn’t have to search the house for bottles of alcohol. He laughs. He’s in a good mood. He’s more patient. I’d like for them to think, “Wow, she’s a really funny, happy, awesome person. She’s always warm and welcoming. She never pushes too hard to be in our lives. She doesn’t try to be my mom. She doesn’t try to influence my relationship with my dad. She lets us solve our own problems between ourselves. She always buys great gifts at Christmas and has the cupboards filled with our favorite foods when we come to visit.”
Is that too much to ask?