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I thought I was doing OK. But have just had a harsh reality check that really upset me

(26 Posts)
deVelvet Sun 17-Apr-16 11:00:17

I know this is going to sound really petty but I feel really sad about this. I suppose I just need to know my place.

DP has 50:50 shared residency of his 3 boys. We blended our families 2 years ago and on the whole it's been fine. Just normal family stuff. We have taken each others kids into our hearts and we are one unit.

I have a very good relationship with the boys mum. She asks for my help when needed and vice versa, we share pictures of the children on our weeks to keep each other updated with what they are doing.

DP and his ex wife have basic communication but ex wife and I seem to have struck up some kind of relationship - not friends, but I am lucky that she acknowledges me as a part of her dc life.

The dc are very involved in sports - mum is big into running and therefore the boys are involved with that. DP is big into junior football and the boys are heavily involved.
DP doesn't get involved in the running and ex wife has never been to a footie match or taken them to tournaments or training.

I am involved with the football club in so much that I volunteer for the club and also ferry the kids to all games, along with dp. Sometimes we need to be in two places at once so I take eldest to his commitments and dp takes other two.
I also look after the other dc at home which allows dp to do his footie things 3 times a week 2 hours at a time

In our house footie is a big thing. And I have embraced the whole thing, it's actually given us a really good social life too.

So big cup final day yesterday and all and sundry were out to support. For the first time ever ex wife showed up with her husband which was a real treat for the boys as she has never expressed and interest before

I introduced them to everyone and it was a good day. DP manages the team and we have lived and breathed this cup final for weeks.

So we won, and it was great. But I just felt really deflated because the boys just wanted mum, DP was busy doing his thing and therefore I felt sidelined. What should have been a really good celebration turned out to be (for me) a harsh reality check that I'm surplus to requirements and it made me sad.

I sound really selfish I know I do, but whilst everyone was cheering and hugging their children / partners after a good win. I found myself on my own, despite being the one who has been there the whole time sad

DP left me to it as well, he was just doing his thing and it wasn't until after the presentation that he actually came anywhere near me.

I was on the sideline looking in at him, his ex wife and the boys - a lovely little family unit.

It's lovely that the boys can see their parents sharing the same as them, as I said it was a real treat for them. I just feel deflated.

So, time to reevaluate my role in all of this and start to manage my own expectations. I am just dads girlfriend.

I love those boys and don't want to replace mum, I couldn't possibly but the football thing was our thing now I feel like it was just an act because I happened to be there at all the other events.

I'm not sure what I expect to get out of posting this, maybe just getting my feelings out.

deVelvet Sun 17-Apr-16 11:02:36

Also worth mentioning that my dd was with her dad, that's why she wasn't mentioned above

CheeseAndOnionWalkers Sun 17-Apr-16 11:12:24

It's totally reasonable to feel upset.

I think that's why many step parents wouldn't have made your choice to be so heavily involved with the footie because being emotionally detached protects their heart.

What strikes me is how selfish your h is. He's heavily into footie but doesn't do any of the legwork. He really should have involved you with the celebrations and thanked you for investing so much time and effort into an experience that the children will never forget.


Wdigin2this Sun 17-Apr-16 11:18:58

I can understand your disappointment, however she's their mother and they were exited to have her join them at an exiting event. But no, you're not just their dad's girlfriend, you're the other important adult in their lives who provides love and care when they're with you and their dad!

I bet if their dad turned up at a running event, he would be the centre of their attention....and that would almost certainly have a similar effect on their mother!

AltogetherAndrews Sun 17-Apr-16 11:20:33

It's ok to feel a bit sad about it, but you know you aren't being reasonable. If your dd had been there, it would have been strange for her not to turn to you, and to be more involved with her dad's partner (if he has one)

Try to look at it this way. Everyone has good relationships with everyone. This makes life massively better for your step children, but also for you. There is no stressing about interference in each other's homes and no torn loyalties. That's as good as it gets in a blended family! The children feel secure enough about you that they can take you for granted a bit, which stings, but is a good thing really.

There will be plenty of events where you can bond with them, and there will be others where you will take a back seat. It's the lot of step parents. Try not to dwell, and to enjoy watching the children having happy relationships with everyone they should. It's much better than the alternative!


deVelvet Sun 17-Apr-16 11:24:22

Absolutely, they were excited. As expected.
Like I said, having mum there was a real treat.

I suppose I just wasn't prepared and it knocked the wind out my sails so to speak.

Having accepted this, next time I will know what to expect and all will be fine.

MyKingdomForBrie Sun 17-Apr-16 11:25:33

It wasn't an act, they were pleased and happy to have you there all along. Just not as pleased and happy as they are to have their mum, that's reality.

Your DP should have made you more involved however, you're obviously very supportive to him.

deVelvet Sun 17-Apr-16 11:26:17

Altogether, yes we are very lucky in that respect. We all get on and everyone is happy. That's the main thing.

HSMMaCM Sun 17-Apr-16 11:33:23

They were excited to have her there, because she's not normally there. Don't worry, I'm sure they still love you and appreciate all you do for them

OurBlanche Sun 17-Apr-16 11:37:52

But do have a word with your OH. It is OK for him to know you felt a bit excluded by him after all, it is only him who could have been expected to look round and find you missing!

Beevor Sun 17-Apr-16 11:41:55

It's wonderful that all four of the children's parents were there for their big victory. I understand how you feel but if you are going to continue to parent the children there is going to be much more of this.

I am out the other side now, nearly, and it's been a long hard struggle at times, but I am certain that all of the children have benefited from having parents and step parents who work together for the good of everyone.

Personally I wouldn't say anything to DP, it speaks volumes about how he sees your role in his family life that he didn't think to check on you - presumably it didn't occur to him on account of the fact that you are part of the family and so don't need special treatment. I assume you went up to the boys and congratulated them and hugged them?

deVelvet Sun 17-Apr-16 11:49:33

I congratulated, high fived, hugged all the boys. They naturally just gravitated back to mum and her husband.

DP was co-ordination the presentation and trophies / photos etc. So I was just left standing by.

I agree that it was only DP who had a responsibility to look around for me.

deVelvet Sun 17-Apr-16 11:52:13

Having said that, I could have interrupted him at any point for a congratulatory hug etc...

Now I'm sounding like a spoilt brat!

Has helped just typing it out. Cognitive therapy indeed smile

Beevor Sun 17-Apr-16 12:08:53

Your not sounding like a spoil brat at all - I just think you are reading too much into the situation. You participation in the DCs lives is not devalued by the presence of their mother , but I would suggest that it is enhanced by the whole families approach to the situation.

MeridianB Mon 18-Apr-16 09:15:49

I think you are being hard on yourself, OP.

Just reading your post it's chock-full of positivity. It sounds like you are reaping the rewards of your effort all the time in small and big ways.

We cannot choose when DSCs include us or turn to us so it's always safest to expect nothing and then enjoy it if/when it happens.

Having said that, I totally understand why you felt sad. But it doesn't sound as if that one experience in any way characterises your relationship with them. So accentuate the positive as there seems to be plenty of it.


Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 18-Apr-16 14:38:18

I totally understand. At least it does all sound positive and your step kids seem to have a bond with you that is free from negativity, which is a great thing.

It is hard being an SP. My DP ferries around my son, is around every day for him, but my son always saves his best side for his Dad, who gets the cream as it were!

Writingdragonfly Fri 22-Apr-16 16:43:12

I think its awesome that you have invested this interest in their lives and share this with them, it sucks that you are kind of second best to mum but it is reality, but you sound like such a wonderful step mum!! smile chin up!

daisychain01 Sun 24-Apr-16 09:22:24

You have created special memories with your DC which unique to just you and them. So you can feel uplifted that even though it was tinged with sadness when you felt a bit like a spare part, those kids will have memories of you ferrying them around and doing the day to day stuff. That is the fabric of relationships, the day to day mundane stuff x

barcelosthehappychicken Wed 27-Apr-16 09:33:41

The DC didn't feel uncomfortable or self conscious about high fiving and hugging either of you in front of one another.

That's because you've worked hard to create a comfortable and supportive environment for everyone.

They will realise and appreciate this as they mature through life into healthy adults.

I think with these things you will definitely reap what you sow.

LogicalThinking Wed 27-Apr-16 10:17:31

You are definitely reading too much into this.
It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job and a really important person to these kids. Their mum isn't normally involved in the football so it was a novelty and the kids gravitated towards her because she was there when she wouldn't normally have been.
They will always feel something different for their mum than for their step-mum, but that takes nothing away from you.
Parenting and the relationship you have with these kids is based on ALL that you do, not just special occasions like this.
Give yourself a hug and know that you are doing brilliantly.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Wed 27-Apr-16 10:42:03

I do think as an SM you have to have a skin of hard leather and a heart both tender and tough. I do have sympathies, I could have written your post many times. chocolate

Friendlystories Wed 27-Apr-16 11:19:41

I don't think your role is 'just' anything, it's different to their mums and that's fair enough but it doesn't sound to me as though you're unimportant in those boys lives, far from it. There was more than likely an element of novelty value in their mum being there at football, that combined with the fact that she is their mum will be the reason their focus was on her. I do think your DP could have been more sensitive to your feelings given that it was the first event where you've all been present but if he had duties to perform and was caught up in the excitement of winning I would say that's forgivable. That said it probably wouldn't hurt to tell him you felt a bit excluded so he can make sure it doesn't happen again, you sound like you've made a lot of effort to create a good dynamic for everyone involved so it's not unreasonable to expect the same from him in return. Being a step parent is like walking a tight rope much of the time, you're constantly trying to maintain the right balance and it's bloody hard work but, fwiw you sound like you're doing a fabulous job to me. Easier said than done I know but try not to dwell on it and let it upset you, even if it feels like a thankless task at times along the way the relationship you're building with those boys will be something special if you keep going as you are. My DSC are pretty much grown up now and there's massive love and respect in the way they are with me now, I think they can see how much effort I've put in over the years and we're really close.

deVelvet Wed 27-Apr-16 16:11:46

Thanks for all the recent comments.
Having read my OP and subsequent posts I am aware that I was just a little upset over one thing. But when looking at the whole picture I am proud of what we have and how we (all four adults) behave to ensure the children always come first.

It's taken a lot of work on my part - stepping back when required and also stepping up iyswim.

I received a lovely message from boys mum at the weekend telling me how good I am for the boys, I responded that between 4 of us they are very lucky indeed - I also thanked her for saying what she did.

I spoke to DP about how I felt, and he was visibly upset that I felt that way. He took my points on board and we hugged it out so to speak.

Life is generally good and we are keen to keep it that way. I was just having a moment, I'm stronger than that normally.

Thanks again for posting and for saying that I sound like a good SM it means a lot

Friendlystories Wed 27-Apr-16 16:29:57

We're all allowed our moments OP smile glad you seem more positive about it all now flowers

OllyBJolly Wed 27-Apr-16 17:48:48

You sound like a great step mum - really fab.

You must have a huge heart flowers

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