please be gentle with me, feeling pretty low

(16 Posts)
chocoreturns Sat 29-Dec-12 22:20:07

I just need to be reminded that step parents can be very lovely and positive people in their SDC's lives. There is a long back story that some of you may have seen but in brief my ex and his partner were having an affair, during which time I fell pregnant with DS2. DS2 is now 6months old and the OW ex's DP is spending time with both my DC. I am finding it particularly hard to cope with the hurt, as this is almost a year to the day I discovered STBXH was cheating and he left me for her.

I know my DC are far too young to care or know about the dynamics of the adults relationships, and I don't talk to them about it. I am positive about their time with their dad but he doesn't make it easy for me at all, he's very uncommunicative, lies about where they are/what they have done, and has 'forbidden' his partner to meet me, which makes it all the more awkward for everyone over the age of 2 as she hides in the house at handovers because she's 'not allowed' outside when I'm there. To me, it all adds up to me feeling like the boogy monster is inside (or that I'm supposed to be the boogy monster myself!) I wish it were different but due to my ex behaving like an idiot it doesn't seem likely that we will all be able to speak normally to each other anytime soon.

Anyway, getting to the point - This weekend my 2yo DS1 announced that he loved ex's new DP. My heart nearly broke when he said it, but I know I need to be glad that he is having fun when he is with them. I am posting this here and not in relationships because I would really like to hear from actual step parents that these things get easier and everyone heals. I don't need to be reminded that my ex is a total idiot (I know that he is). I just wish I could understand things from his DP's P.O.V. I don't understand why she goes along with hiding from me, or lying about being there when my DC are with him, or any of the other frankly crazy unnecessary things they do.

As a disclaimer, in NO WAY do I think that every step parent was an OW and I am not asking specifically for anyone to tell me that they were and it's all been fine. I just mean in general, it would help me to hear some positive stories about sharing the children and helping them be positive about the new people in their lives, to remind me that it gets easier. Also some advice on getting past this ludicrous stage where we all have to pretend I'm too unstable to meet her would be good?

LaminateFlaw Sat 29-Dec-12 22:34:56

Having been a "stay out of the way" new partner for some time, it was mostly to diffuse tension created by all three of us when in the same room. It stemmed from at first me making a point of not shying away from DP's ex, but then was a bit weird - why was I just hanging around like a spare part? To make a point? I took the lead from DP, but then we discussed it; he had no more experience in this than I, seeing as I'm the only person who had been introduced to either DSC or their Mum. I think it just took us some time to get to a more comfortable point; DP will always come down/out when DSC's Mum arrives, but if I'm there first then of course I'll answer the door, say hello, potter about. Then again, DP is away for 6 months so I'm having direct contact with DSC Mum so I can still see then.

I'm never going to be BFF with her, but we (now) manage to be civil.

RubyrooUK Sat 29-Dec-12 23:07:21

Just to say I found my step parents have ultimately proved to be great additions to my life. So if your son has a stepmum he loves, this is much better for you and him than anything else.

As I am now an adult with my own children, my stepmum is far more involved with my son than my actual dad. Although she never wanted kids of her own, she is a very loving granny and is always the person who puts in the hard work with my DS when they come to stay.

And for what it's worth, I also discovered that you can love step-parents as great family members but my mum is still my mum absolutely. Me loving my stepmum has made not the slightest iota of difference to how much I love my mum. (In case it hurts a little bit when your DS says he loves her.)

I've also had the experience of acting as stepmum for my ex-partner's children. I loved them although things weren't always easy. He too was mad about me not meeting her because although I was not the OW, I think he felt guilty and confused about the marriage breakup. That was his problem though. In that case, I did stay out the way mainly because I thought it was his relationship to deal with and I didn't want to interfere. So maybe the girlfriend feels the same way? I had no bad feelings about my partner's ex, but he got very stressed and funny about it, so I just left alone.

As it happens, I'm no longer in that relationship but it had nothing to do with step parenting issues. I'm still very friendly with him and his kids as I really did grow to love them and I hope they still see me as part of their extended friends and family who they could rely on if they needed anything.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 29-Dec-12 23:34:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Succubi Sat 29-Dec-12 23:40:28

I can't give you any helpful advice on the SP position. I just wanted to say that I remember your previous posts and I think you are a legend. Your children are truly lucky to have you as their mother and friend.

PoppyPrincess Sun 30-Dec-12 00:19:38

I feel your pain, I really do.
I am now a step mum but before I became one I was virtually standing in your exact shoes so in some respects I have seen things from both sides.
It honestly does get better.
Me n my ex split whilst I was pregnant and he shacked up with someone virtually straight away, I found out about her when DS was 6 weeks old but by this time they'd already been together about 8 months, it turned out he was seeing her behind my back. I was distraught.
Obviously things were difficult but 3 years on and things are great now. I don't see ex's DP, we meet half way for handovers but I'm sure if we saw each other we'd be fine. My ex used to be very hard work, lied to me, just tried to be difficult for the sake of it, we were like strangers who shared a child. But now we have a chat, share funny stories about DS etc.
I think the turning point was when I stopped caring, I stopped having a go at him when he pissed me off, I showed that I was reasonable, if he needed to tweak arrangements then that was fine, I suppose over time I've just earned some respect back and it's worked wonders.
It just takes time for everybody to get used to it, nobody wanted this situation but its happening so you have to make the best of it.
Just remember that you are your DC's mum and have faith in the love that you have for them and they have for you. Nobody and nothing can break the bond you have with them.

I've seen with my DS that a lot of it is novelty value, when we first moved in with my DP my DS was obsessed with him, he wanted DP to do everything for him. The novelty wore off, he still loves him but he loves his daddy more even though DP has actually been a more consistent and steady father figure in his life. DS just has this fantastic bond with his dad that no stepdad can come close to.

As far as your ex's DP is concerned it sounds like your ex is just trying to keep the 2 of you apart to avoid any trouble, maybe he feels guilty about what he can do and seeing the 2 of you together would make him realise what a twat pillock he has been.
Or maybe she doesn't want to see you because of the guilt she feels? Who knows.

I think the main thing is to just allow it time and to show your ex that you can be adult and reasonable and hopefully eventually he will drop all the hostility and things can become much easier for everybody x

riverboat Sun 30-Dec-12 00:33:05

You sound great, and I hope things get easier for you.

If you want to hear positive stories, I have one:

I went to a lovely late-Christmas lunch today, where the players were:

- DP and I
- DP's ex and her partner
- DP and ex's son (My DSS)
- DP's ex and her new partners' daughter together (My DSS's half sister)
- DP's ex's partner's child from his previous marriage (My DSS's step sister)
- DP's ex's mother and her partner (My DSS's step-grandfather)

I realise it's pretty complicated! But that was the joy of it. I love being part of this big blended family, and it's a real pleasure to get together for occasions like this sometimes, which we do every few months or so. There is no animosity or tension between any of us - in fact DP and I are going over to ex+partners place again for NYE.

I can't claim to know how the children feel deep down about it all, but they certainly seem pretty well adjusted and happy. There is no talk of half-sisters and step-brothers between them, to each other they are just brothers and sisters and they evidently love each other very much. Sometimes DSS says he wishes his parents were still together, but when it's pointed out that if this was the case he wouldn't have his sisters, he admits maybe it's not such a great idea!

I hope you manage to retain your positivity in your situation, and that your DP and his new partner come round to your (it seems to me) eminently sensible way of thinking. Best of luck!

brdgrl Sun 30-Dec-12 05:09:59

My DH is a stepson, twice over. He is very close to his dad's second wife, who is 'like a grandmother' to all three of DH/our kids. He and his sister have two half-brothers from that stepmum, and my DH considers them simply his brothers. I know that his stepmum provided DH with a sense of stability and was a nurturing presence in his life as a teenager.
Good luck.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 30-Dec-12 09:18:06

choco my DDs DSM is forbidden from speaking to me; always has been - my ex has even admitted that he doesn't want me and her to talk to each other blush There has been an odd occasion that I've seen her out alone and she's scuttled past me without even making eye contact!

You can't change it. If she ever develops the confidence to stand up for herself and do her own thing, then it's unlikely her relationship with your ex will survive. It's obviously what he needs from his partner, and quite possibly, its one of the reasons you and he didn't work out - you have more confidence and self assurance than her! It's also likely that she feels ashamed of her behaviour, so is embarrassed to see/speak to you.

All you can do is carry on doing what you are doing - accept her in your DCs life.

MrsTomHardy Sun 30-Dec-12 11:42:28

The only thing I can add is when my xp and I split nearly 10 years ago our DS was 11 months. He met someone else the following month. And because he introduced this woman straight away to our DS behind my back (he doesn't have PR) I then asked to meet her before I'd let my son go with his dad again. And to be fair she did come to my door and introduce herself.
My feeling was as my young child was to be spending days/nights at her house then I needed to at least know what she looked like.

RedRosie Sun 30-Dec-12 12:41:38

Choco - I don't post much here ... But I'm sorry you are so down. You are doing so well and are, I'm sure, a wonderful mum.

I am very old a long-time step-parent whose DSCs are grown up now. I love them, and I hope they love me. This is especially important as I sadly have no DCs of my own and it has been good to have them in my life.

I wasn't the OW, and my DH had been divorced for 5 years or so when I met him, so of course the dynamics are very different. But I do remember feeling very anxious about meeting his former DW and I did avoid it - although not by "hiding" - for some time. She was a very important person IYSWIM? So ... I can't imagine how scared, guilty, stressed I would have been had I been the OW. Could it be as simple (I know its not simple) as that? Could they both be "afraid" of you? He has done a terrible thing to you. Some (me, rightly or wrongly) would say she has too.

My DH's exW turned out to be a nice person. She has always been kind to (and about) me. And allowed me a place in her children's lives generously. We live far apart and are not friends as such, but I think of her with respect and gratitude.

I hope you can get through this awful time. I think time itself will make a difference, and you are doing everything "right" as far as I can see.

Another choco fan here.

The ow and exp have behaved so appallingly I can imagine its very painful having this contact with your little ones. I just wanted to say I was surrounded by some fairly dysfunctional adults when I was a kid- nothing abusive at all - but just a collection of daft aunts and uncles etc. Nothing of the idiotic things they said or did affected me much because the core was good - my mum was brilliant.
You, your parents and even exps mum, are your children's core and that is all brilliant. You could say it will also do the kids some good to be exposed to different ways. Hmm.
They will enjoy the presents and the attention given by ow, but nothing will be as important to them as you.

steppyhen Sun 30-Dec-12 13:57:33

hi im a step mum to dss aged 3.5! DH and i got together and moved in within 4 months of being together, i made the point of texting dh exp and explained that i was not trying to take over her role and that she was welcome at our house anytime if she wanted to come see dss new room etc. we have gotten along well ever since no trouble at all. we have dss 3 nights a week so is almost 50/50 ! he calls me his best friend and says he loves me but if anything happens ie falls over or is upset the first person he asks for is he mummy. your children will only have one mum! she will never take your place, but if your dc are spending time in her care you should be glad that she cares for them and they are happy spending time with her !!
hope you feel better about it soon xx

chocoreturns Sun 30-Dec-12 14:16:39

thank you everyone for being so kind and reassuring. I feel slightly better today about it all. I think how far we've all come in a year and when I look back to where I was last January I know that time will help, because it already has so much. I am lucky to have brilliant friends who are step mums and had step mums/step dads themselves, so I know that for the children it's not a bad thing. It's just a different thing.

I went to handover today and my (lovely) MIL as usual was waiting. I asked to speak directly to XH (who usually stays in another room, while my DS goes to find him) about the kids as DS1 has some medicine to take. It was fine to speak to him and I think that all I can do is be calm, polite and try to deal with things directly with XH when I can to demonstrate I am not a harpy.

I am determined that my kids will not feel bad because I do, iyswim, so it's really, really helpful to have somewhere to come and express myself away from our little home environment. If DS1 loves her I want to let him - that's the best thing for him. I will cry a little bit on my own though Thank you for the hand holding again.

Hey choco, glad you're feeling better.

I suspect that in the case of your particular muppet and his paramour, the sneaking round and hiding thing may be part of a bonding process for them... Both of them vs the crazy ex, both of them vs the world, no-one could possibly understand the strength of their lurve, they were destined to come together and so any hurt resulting from their actions is not their fault cos they couldn't help themselves.

I think the way you're handling it is perfect.

For what it's worth, I am a step mum though maybe not in a way that's reassuring - DSD lives with us & only has EOW access with her Mum. Very different circumstances though. Nevertheless, I like to think I'm a vaguely positive influence <polishes halo>

In the end, their parenting influence - joint or singular - is going to be fairly minimal due to the level of contact. You are a fab Mum... Keep on keeping on and live true to your expectations of you rather than reacting to theirs.

Merry Christmas btw xx

Also, and I wasn't an OW so it isn't quite the same, but everyone is civil now despite a fairly hideous couple of years. Weirdly, I have more contact with DSD's Mum than DH does. It works for us, we get on quite well.

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