RANT : At the end of my tether ... a step-parenting nightmare. Very long .... sorry.(45 Posts)
Hi .... and apologies for what may well be the longest ever posting in the history of the step-parenting board. Unfortunately, I tend to be a bit "verbal" and don't think I can adequately explain my situation unless I give quite a bit of detail 1st.
Today, I am just so upset and angry and frustrated and just want to scream. Myself & DP are in a dreadful situation which shows no signs of getting better and every sign that it could get a lot worse.
(BTW, as a relative newbie here, what does "BM" stand for ??? .... if it doesn't stand for Bitch Mother, then it certainly does in this post)
Have been with DP for 4 years. When I met him he'd been separated for 2.5 years and I was his 1st serious g/f since the split. His ex wife had started "dating" within weeks of their split & has had several short lived relationships, including the married father of her kids' friend (charming). This detail may not seem any of my business but I mention it to build up a picture of what a hypocrite this woman is as you will see from what I write later. DP has 2 kids (nearly 11 & 8), I have 1 (@ 15 the eldest) and together, we have a 20 month daughter .... so, 4 kids in all.
DP & I didn't actually move in together until our daughter was born, though we'd wanted to long before she was conceived. Reason we didn't was because his divorce took 23 months to be finalised (mainly due to BM's non-cooperation, prevarication, appointment of four different solicitors) ... we simply didn't want to "muddy" the waters in any way. Divorce was extremely traumatic, DP effectively forced into corner defending what very little he had and £000s wasted doing this. The whole experience was driven by her spite, as DP naiively believed they'd already made a financial agreement (and trust me, it was more than fair, but she found out she could come after his assets at time of divorce rather than separation and once she knew that she was like a dog with a bone) - ironically, when I met DP he told me that separation had been mutual, relationship with ex was amicable and that they'd already reached and effected a financial agreement so that ex could move on (as she wished) by buying new 3 bed for herself & kids - albeit she chose to move kids 140 miles away from their dad.
In other words, I had no idea of the snakepit I was about to step into. (My own relationship with my son's dad, whilst not friendly, is civil & fair, so didn't anticipate any of what subsequently happened). Basically, it all kicked off within weeks of me starting seeing DP .... my MIL succinctly describes it as BM "not wanting DP, but not wanting anyone else to have him either". DP started getting snide remarks about me even though she's never met me, and when DP decided it was time for me to meet his kids she went completely mental saying I wasn't a "suitable" person to be around her kids etc. No genuine reason whatsoever for such an opinion but, amongst other remarks, I'd had "an illegitimate" child and (some time later, after me & DP had had a miscarriage), I was bad because I'd "been pregnant by 2 different men" !!! Plus a load of fairly cliched but ridiculous stuff like "I'm their mother not HER", "how will the kids feel seeing another woman in mummy's bed?" (Huh ???!!!!! .... not that they'd seen me in any bed ....)
All this vitriol seems to be down to an insane envy of the fact her ex has moved on but she hasn't (in terms of a succesful LTR). It is extremely upsetting for me as I can't understand why someone who's never met me should harbour such hatred and is so determined to cause trouble. Everything she says is utterly hypocritical ... she herself has apparently been pregnant by 3 different men, which, though not a crime, on one occasion she aborted the pregnancy & on another didn't know who the father was ! .... yet I'm criticised for having loose morals ! We've always stepped very carefully around all the children, I've certainly never forced the issue with them and never describe myself as their step-mum, just as Catsmother. On the face of it, I've always got on well with them and the younger child in particular tells me she loves me all the time and is very affectionate, holding my hand and so on.
Without boring you all to death, I could be here all night quoting examples of bizarre, spiteful, damaging, unfair and untruthful things BM has said and done over the last 4 years. In short, this has been realised by her creating huge contact problems, by her refusing to meet DP any part of the distance she chose to make thus incurring huge long tiring & expensive journeys for him to see his own kids, by her telling the skids detailed stuff about the divorce completely out of context and designed to make them think badly of their dad, by her telling lies generally to skids, going back on agreed holiday dates, refusing to answer phone to DP for weeks on end and regular voice & text messages spitting out viscious lies. She also likes to emotionally blackmail DP whenever possible and deliberately drop "hints" about his kids being upset with him but then refuses to discuss it so DP faces weeks of worry. Inevitably, all this affects our relationship .... we feel like we're being haunted because she sticks her oar in with such regularity. It wouldn't matter if it was just us but the fact the kids are dragged into it and used as weapons too means that we can't simply ignore it.
We use to think her bitterness would subside with time, and/or when she got a serious b/f, but if anything the whole situation and her detremination to disrupt us (not to mention her own children) is getting worse as each month passes. The situation now is that the skids come to us every other weekend, plus some of hols. On the face of it we have an enjoyable weekend but almost without fail, every single bloody time some sort of drama ensues within a couple of hours of the skids being returned. DP will get texts attacking him for upsetting one or both skids, yet he is totally baffled at what he could have done. If this doesn't happen, you can bet your life that during the w/end the skids have come out with defamatory crap along the lines of "mummy says ....." where DP has to defend himself and sometimes me. The most recent tack is that apparently DP and myself "interrogate" the skids about BM (!!!!) all weekend ..... yet categorically I can put my hand on my heart and say that I never discuss the skids' mother with them. I don't know her and I don't think it's fair to involve them in adult's arguments which involve concepts they are too immature emotionally to understand. This has ALWAYS been my approach. DP never mentions BM unless he is pushed into a corner and needs to defend himself as in being accused of "stealing mummy's money" (another regular snipe). Even then he is very careful to say stuff like "mummy must have misunderstood..." rather than call her the twisted liar she really is.
In 4 years of this, DP has tried numerous times to get to bottom of her approach. Has tried reasoning, has tried reading her the riot act but nothing works. Whenever she perceives DP criticises or inconveniences her in any way, a fresh bout of spite is invariably guaranteed together with awkwardness over the next contact due. DP & I strongly suspect that skids are interrogated by her the minute they get in the door and that no matter how much they've enjoyed the weekend, she will push and push digging for "dirt". This may seem paranoid, but over 4 years there've been so many examples of things said where this can be the only possible explanation. Basically, those kids are being put in the terrible position of not knowing which adult in their lives is telling the truth, of having to choose sides and of probably feeling very disturbed and confused.
If you're still reading, thanks for bearing with me .......
..... it all came to a head this weekend ....
.... skids came, M-I-L (their nanny) came too and we went out Sat evening to a concert, and had pizza on Sunday. There was no great argument or upset though Nanny & DP told them off a couple of times for bickering etc. If anything I'd have said it was one of the better weekends I can remember.
Sun evening after she'd gone home, M-I-L gets call from older skid. After a bit of prevarication he comes out with he doesn't like me. When asked why, he told nanny a load of stock phrases staright out of the mouth of his mother (which she's used in the past) plus more disturbingly, a complete load of lies. Stuff like, every other word I use is the f word, that I'm always telling them off, that I "push" past them when I change the baby. That daddy & mummy were friends before I came along, that everything's changed in the last 4 years and it's all my fault, that I domineer daddy and that it's "got to stop".
I'm in tears now .....
.... I do NOT swear in front of the kids.
.... I do NOT tell them off period (though God knows they sometimes deserve it) because luckily DP & me have identical expectations of behaviour & therefore he does discipline. I am actually scared to raise my voice to them lest that is then used - which it would be.
.... I do not "push" past anyone.
The other stuff is out of BMs little book of how to be a bitter ex. DP isn't friendly with his ex any more (though he is always civil & fair) 'cos she determined to push through a financial settlement which was grossly morally unfair and which he was forced into defending at huge cost, 'cos she's prevented contact with his kids on numerous occasions, 'cos she tells kids repeated lies about him ..... 'cos, 'cos, 'cos, she has caused so much damage all round.
Thankfully, both DP and M-I-L are 100% supportive of me in this. Neither of them would sit back and let the alleged behaviour go on if it were true. MIL thinks skid1 has been pushed into a corner by the BM and has said what he thinks she wants to hear. He has a history of lying and arguing black is white and finds it very difficult to extricate himself when he makes up a ridiculous story. They are both furious but are also extremely worried that this has happened.
Me ??? ...... I feel like a heel though it's all complete bollocks. I keep going over and over every detail in my head - can't help it. Have never been as close to skid1 as skid2 but didn't think he actually disliked me. Now I wonder if he really does, irrespective of being manioulated by BM. I do feel for him as a small child being used by a spiteful cow, but another bit of me is also very angry that he's told potentially very damaging lies about me. Doesn't matter that he was almost certainly pushed and pushed, the fact that BM has heard him say these things will be all the "proof" she needs to continue her nasty campaign against us. To achieve what I don't know .... DP thinks she'll only be happy when he drops out of his kids' lives, which isn't going to happen !
Before they went home, skid2 had called her mother and asked , independently of any adult, if she'd meet daddy. When BM said no, skid2 asked why and was told she didn't want to, whereupon BM got an earful from child. DP took phone away at this point and was accused, along with MIL and myself of "going on" at skid2 "all weekend" in order to get her to meet him. Utter rot and me & MIL were gobsmacked and enraged - not a word had been said by anyone, but as the skids get older they can start to see for themselves what's fair and what isn't.
DP & MIL suspect that when skids got home, this issue was twisted by BM to her advantage. Rather than admit, that yes, she was being unfair by never meeting daddy, she started going on at the kids that if daddy came up there ("like he used to before he met her...") there'd be no need for arguments over meeting. DP did use to "go up there" on occasion before he met me but that was prior to the vfery nasty divorce and all else that happened since, and, was also due to him being unselfish and saving the (then) younger children a long car journey.
DP & MIL suspect that with a lecture along the lines of how dreadful daddy is now (since he met me), skid1 ended up feeling very angry and with misplaced loyalty towards his mother, ended up calling nanny the way he did. MIL has spoken to child psychologist friend of hers about this who agrees that skids are almost certainly being manipulated by BM.
To put this into perspective, DP & ex have been separated now for more than six years !!! Psycholgist friend stated that it was extremely unhealthy that "the divorce" should still be such a potent, recurring and "current" topic of conversation and concern for the skids after such a long time and said that in all likelihood this was due to BM ensuring the topic never died !
He's recommended that MIL speaks to skids face to face & carefully explain (again) that mummy & daddy are divorced, they mutually agreed to do this, that when people divorce they (usually) move off in different directions etc., etc. When this will happen I don't know as MIL lives 4.5 hours from skids. Trouble is, both DP & me feel defeated by this ..... similar stuff has been said to them umpteen times, yet they're obviously never allowed to "move on" or come to terms with it themselves by BM. She has them the majority of time and is therefore the greatest influence on them.
DP has always been a loving and responsible father (though not according to BM of course, but in her eyes, he'd only be that if he rolled over and died whenever she asked him to). He has always reassured his kids that even though he's with me he'll always be there for them and we tried to be ultra sensitive about my pregnancy (though of course, DP gets a load of stuff about "you don't care about your first kids" so invariably, the kids are probably told this too).
I just feel so sick .... to be the subject of lies like that. What really concerns me is just how far BM will go ..... am I going to have a social worker knocking on the door next ? When is this ever going to end ? All the discussions in the world aren't going to help the skids if the root cause of it all is their BM .... MIL thinks she needs to see a psychiatrist.
And, because I'm human too, as much as I feel desparately for those kids I'm also feeling very sorry for myself right now. DP sympathises ... he's had lies flung at him too .... but I think it's kind of different for me as BM isn't my bloody ex and I feel like I'm totally caught in someone else's crossfire. I can't speak to skid myself, nor can I speak to BM as this would be seen as provocative and bring forth loads more grief .... so I just feel helpless and unable to defend myself (though MIL intends to put things straight). DP & MIL think that although skid should be told it's very wrong to lie full stop, and worse to tell lies about people which could get them into trouble, they don't think he should be punished as he was probably pushed. Okay .... I do see that, but again, can't help but come back to wondering if a little bit of him wanted to get me into trouble ? It's all such a mess ....
... I remember reading in another step-parenting post an observation which I thought was very wise - that the stepparent gets a load of extra work when skids come and no reward. Well, I totally agree ... when they come I've always tried to make things nice for them, get in treats I know they'll like and so on. I do this, not just for their sake but for DP too of course. Yet I rarely get any thanks (guess that's kids for you) and do incur a lot of extra clearing up as they're allowed to get away with a lot at home and do the same here though DP does try to insist on house rules. In the past, I've spent numerous hours traipsing about trying to find a special xmas or birthday present, I have dealt with wet beds and soiled carpets, and have said nothing when their mucking about has resulted in my things being broken or ruined. All in the effort to maintain harmony ........ and this happens ..... this is my "reward" ......
I know that no-one is going to be able to wave a magic wand for me. I also know I've answered a lot of stuff myself and that this is really a rant to get things off my chest. Guess I'm hoping for a little empathy ....
Apparently, skid1 was "told" to ring nanny, as she wouldn't "argue" with him (suggesting DP would). I am so gobsmacked that BM is encouraging the blackening of my name like this - suggesting that smacks of her wanting to get me "into trouble" with MIL who is quite a formidable lady when she wants to be. Fortunately, she is also fair and nobody's fool and can see right through BM. What amazes me though about all this is if what skid1 was true, then surely BM should have called DP to sort it all out ? .... instead, it's all done in such a snide way.
If I thought that my ex's new wife had behaved nastily to my son, I would want to sort it out in an adult fashion with him asap. Not all this bloody cloak and dagger stuff. Just don't know what to do ..... yeah, I took on a man with "baggage" but that doesn't mean I have to accept all that's been thrown at me (I also had "baggage" but DP gets no grief from my ex). I know for sure that my ex & his wife don't sit in fear of what I'm going to do next, I doubt they ever give me a second thought. Being someone's 1st wife does NOT somehow excuse behaviour which would be considered totally unacceptable by society.
Does anyone else have any experience of similar ..... it's said you can't reason with the unreasonable and it's true. We don't know what to do ..... and TBH, I am so angry that if I ever saw this woman the only thing that'd stop me punching her would be the thought of how my baby would cope without me if I were jailed.
Ah, right ......
... but, as I said, I think it could quite easily mean something else (regrettably) in another context.
I've read nearly all of it! It is an awful situation, and I really feel for you. I just don't know what you can do really- when my stepchildren got older dh kind of took the gloves off and started to tell them the truth about their mother instead of constantly pretending to back her up. They actually accepted it and felt relieved, I think, to realise that it wasn't as she had painted it. However, I think at 8 and 11 they are still a bit young for that approach. What might help slightly is if your dd spontaneously took it into her head to have a chat with them and stick up for you, but it wouldn't be remotely appropriate for anyone to suggest that, I realise.
It sounds as though you are doing a great job under appalling circumstances.
A little bit ...... suppose that even though I know I am "innocent", I am still awfully worried about what's going to happen next - how skid1 is going to be around me next time we see them (which is likely to be about 3 weeks time).
Guess this has really bought it home to me how ruthless BM is - she refuses to see the damage she's causing to her own children in her relentless pursuit of DP & me, at "any" cost. DP & me have spent countless hours (actually probably days & months going round and round in circles about this whole thing & get nowhere) .... had a glimmer of hope that time would be a healer but then this happens and you just wonder if "it's" ever going to end and we can just get on with being "normal", without every last detail of our (mundane) life being up for criticism and comment.
I just find it very hard to believe and/or accept that a supposedly mature & intelligent woman same age as me behaves like this and can't see it's very very unhealthy and peculiar. I always feel like I'm viewed and spoken of in the same vein as a harlot who deliberately breaks up a man's marriage and drags a father away from his kids. Which, obviously, I did not - but that is what I feel I'm being accused of.
I feel very sorry for the skids as they're stuck in the middle. They've made enough remarks and reacted in enough concerning ways to make us think that their BM has already damaged them - if she doesn't stop, who knows how they'll be affected ?
Hi Tamum .... my dd is only 20 months old so anything she said probably wouldn't make much sense !
My son is 15 but I really don't want to involve any of the kids in this any more than we have to. If BM had followed DP's example and never mentioned the divorce, or badmouthed their dad, then there wouldn't be a couple of very confused little kids already. Undoubtedly, if skid1 repeated this sort of stuff in front of my son, he would defend me and tell him straight he was lying - however, I'm hoping this doesn't happen as I can envisage an argument resulting, and next thing, my son would be accused of "bullying" skid1 - I would lay money on it.
Catsmother, why don't you bite the bullet and go and see her and talk to her face to face?
I think this sounds like a nightmare and makes my DH's awkward ex-W seem saintly!
You have my symapthy
Blimey Catsmother, I read all of it and it sounds horrible. I don't have experience, although I grew up with a stepfather and my dp is a stepfather to ds (we also have a dd between us).
She's a witch, and it doesn't seem that anything you can do will change that. I think all you can do is not rise to it, don't descend to her level, be civil, tell your stepchildren that you won't discuss it because it's not their problem, it's between the adults (you never know, it might give them some ideas, they might start telling her the same thing), and do your best to live well, this being the best revenge. She's clearly not a happy woman: someone happy and secure wouldn't behave like this. You can ignore her to an extent though - as she and your dp are divorced apart from his duty to the children he doesn't HAVE to speak to her or engage in any of this discussion/debate/slanging match. In your position, and I know this is easier said than done, I think I'd refuse to discuss anything other than the most mundane/practical stuff and point blank refuse to get into any discussion whatsoever with her about anything else. Calmly say 'I'm afraid we/I won't discuss that. Was there anything else?' and threaten to put the phone down if she is rude. I think you could say to the children 'look, this is upsetting for everyone and clearly we don't agree with the things your mother is saying but we don't think it's appropriate to discuss this with you and so we won't be. If you have any genuine concerns you are welcome to talk to us but we won't discuss your mother or her allegations.' Let them make up their own minds when they're older. Guess who will have come across as reasonable and calm and stable, and who will reveal herself to them, with hindsight, as being completely barking? I don't think there's anything else you can do. You love this man and you have a child and she is disrupting your life together. Treat her like a toddler, don't give her the reaction she's looking for. She might not go away but she won't get the satisfaction of a reaction or breaking up your relationship. Obviously feel free to totally ignore the above but it's what I'd TRY to do.
Bte, your post is possibly the longest I've ever seen on mumsnet!
Btw I meant! And it wasn't a criticism, just an observation.
Catsmother, Ive read it all too!
It does sound a nightmare. Effectively, your dp's ex is committing offences, but nothing that you can take legal action over, and you haven't got any other influence to use.
has she broken formal court orders? has she libelled you? is it worth going to court over access etc.?
One thing you can do, is to make sure that the children have a great time when they come to you!
WWW's post is absolutely spot on. I am in a similiar situation and I know that the best way to handle spiteful vindictive BM's is to ignore her to the best of your ability. She can't hurt you or your relationship and don't let her affect the way you treat her children - they need a kind and stable woman in their lives as their mum is obviously hard work. I get great satisfaction out of being kind and thoughtful to my skids and I get repaid by knowing that they have a loving environment in their dads house.
I see that you are a good person, they will too when they grow up.
SleepyJess ..... no way could I do this - though have often thought to write. BM won't even speak to DP when he is pleading to speak about his own children. I'd just get the door slammed in my face & it would definitely be seen as provocative. There's also the risk that skids would be regaled about how that "horrible woman" (i.e.me) was picking on mummy etc.
WWW - thanks for your comments. To a very large extent this is exactly the stance we have always taken. We do indeed sincerely hope that the skids will one day reach their own conclusions and see at least that their dad was fair, loving and reasonable (even if they never realise how dreadful their mother is - I don't wish this realisation on them).
However, what really concerns us is this latest development. Quite how we handle it I don't know ? .... maybe we should play dumb and act as if MIL never told us .... but, TBH, even with all the underlying background the thought of that does make my blood boil somewhat. I do feel that skid1 is being manipulated but at the same time am very unhappy that he's telling lies about me and my behaviour. If he wants to support his BM in agreeing he doesn't like me, that's one thing - and if he has his own reasons for that, that's fine, though sad. But to make stuff up goes a step further IMO - I do think he's old enough to understand that's just not on.
i read your post and can totally sympathise as thats what happened to my uncle. just dont give in he eventually did as she had poisened them that much they didnt even want to see him.
hope things get better xx
I am so glad I posted .... goes a little way to reassuring me I am not the monster I am painted.
Nightynight - I am pleased you said what you did. I've often said to DP that what his ex is doing verges on criminal - certainly it's immoral - yet within the existing law framework, there's really not much scope to curtail her.
DP has - and still is - considering obtaining defined contact order. Trouble is, these are easily flouted on teh flimsiest of excuses and judges appear very reluctant to properly censure errant parents who break orders as fines and/or jail for the worst cases could also be seen as having an adverse effect on the children. On top of that, we know this would be yet further ammunition to feed the skids re: how horrible daddy is to mummy.
We can't win whatever we do .... I truly think the only way this would stop is if DP & I split up AND, he subsequently asked how high whenever she asked him to jump. It's called having your cake and eating it ! ..... as soon as he found someone else, the whole cycle would start again.
I have a lot of sympathy for you. My dh's ex turned into bitch from hell the moment I appeared on the scene (four years after she left him for her millionaire husband!)
Made life very difficult indeed - went after him for his house via the courts with rottweiler solicitors etc etc etc - very like your story. Told my stepdaughter lies, lied in court, all v horrible and deeply, deeply stressful. However, you do have to just ignore it. Think, well she can't be happy if she is so jealous and obsessed by us. I think the kids are to be pitied, I really do. Poor things feeling they have to do this otherwise their own mother will turn on them - how dreadful is that? Please don't turn on the kids over this, though I can see how awful and hurtful it must be. In time, as others have said, they will see for themselves how it was.
Catsmother- my absolute total sympathies in this matter- it sounds absolutely horrible. Is there any way you could step out of the situation for a couple of visits- don't know how that would help the situation but I'm sure it would help your mental state. I'd be absolutely close to breaking by now and would also be close to giving up on the relationship. Could you and the children go to stay with a friend or could your dh go to visit his kids where they live for the day. Just to take the heat off a bit
Pixiefish ... this is something I've suggested in the past. Not for any sinister reason but 'cos sometimes I'd like a break away from them too, and I appreciate they'd like to spend time alone with their dad as well. Sometimes I'll spend the day in the garden while DP takes the 3 younger kids out for the day without me.
But I can't avoid them forever can I ? DP also thinks it imprtant that a "normal" face is presented to them, i.e. skid1 doesn't get the idea I'm deliberately keeping out of his way or that might be misconstrued as I don't want to see him (by him and his mother).
There are times when I feel like completely running away - never mind the odd day !
i think i'd have given up by now tbh.
could your dp go to where they live and see them locally to there for a while. i know this seems to be running away but i think that giving everyone a break would be a good thing. i'd personally have the next few visits as just dp and skids doing something in their locale
catsmother, having read pretty much the whole thing and remembering things other step-parents have written here in the past, I must just say I am so pleased for you that both your DH and your MIL know exactly what's what and that you are not being sidelined by this as some step-parents are.
You sound incredibly calm and reasonable and good for the kids to be around, and eventually they will grow past their BM's interference and recognise that 100%. Can't offer any advice but I admire you very much for how you are handling the situation.
I've managed to wade through it and tbh it just sounds like you're having a (very bad) off day because mad mummy's upped the stakes and thrown you completely, but that in general you're coping very well and actually may appear from the outside to be totally in control and sailing along calmly.
I can only echo what www has said and what you say you're already doing, which is to refuse to go along with her agenda and just restrict contact with her to businesslike civilities. And yes, it's very good that it sounds like you're not the "outsider" figure in the family - you're completely integrated and MIL (very important figure!) accepts you completely. It may not sound it in your present down mood, but you do sound like you're holding all the cards in this family set-up, which is possibly what is enraging the skid's mother and why she keeps upping the ante - to try and de-rail you. Don't let her! Just keep telling yourself that the reason she is behaving so spitefully and unreasonably, is because she is a deeply unhappy woman who looks at you and sees someone who is winning while she's losing. Keep that facade up, it's the best revenge.
Catsmother, I had posted my nightmare story some time ago on here about my DH's X and the hell that I (we) went though. He had full-time custody of the children (We had his 3 stepchildren and one that we had after we were married). Your DH's X sounds horrible, very similar to mine. I admire your strength and courage and also encourage you to ignore as much as you can and try to continue never to badmouth her as much as you might want to. Your stepchildren are being pulled in both directions and have a fierce loyalty to their Mom---it is just the nature of things. My DH's X moved 1,000 miles away when she abandoned her children and also expected DH to run back and forth to drop the children to visit her. We did it all. I aged quite a bit, but somehow have come through to the other side. I had to go onto Antidepressants at one point. It is still far from perfect, but I have learned to ignore her bizarre and hurtful behavior.
You have to reward yourself and know that you are doing the right thing in being a good influence and a nurturing part of your stepchildren's lives. You probably won't hear any of that back from the stepchildren until they are a bit older. It does feel so thankless. Take care of yourself and your needs, as much as your DH wants things to look "normal" after the latest event, it is really ok for you to nuture yourself and spend some time away from the stepchildren if that is a part of it. I know you will decide what is right and what feels best. The important thing is that you are not alone and hopefully you will get the support you need right here from all of us.
catsmother..terrible story,you must be under enormous strain.
At least your mil is on your side.That is a massive point in your favour (and vile ex wife knows it.)
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