On Dating A Man With Children

This isn’t anyone’s dream. No one grows up wanting step children and baggage. I told myself firmly that I was not interested in a man with 2 children from 2 different mothers. I was so sure that I would not fall in love with him. Why would I get myself involved in such an abnormal situation?

But I did. I fell in love and told myself that we would find a way to make it work. I had always wanted children. I had always wanted to adopt children. I was so certain that I could be selfless and loving and play happy families. I imagined I would be an exemplary step mother who embraced the exes so that the children would see us all getting along. I thought I would excel at nurturing and taking care of small people; of helping them to be unscathed by any of us adults. I imagined a home and a family that was mine even though the children weren’t. I would be the perfect girlfriend and eventually the perfect step-mother. Surely I could do this and do it well?

All I have discovered in the last six months is that I am not anything other than selfish and immature. I am shallow. I am not cut out for motherhood. The fact that they aren’t my children probably doesn’t negate this fact.

I had no idea that I could resent an innocent 2 year old because she was the bone of contention between us and her mother for months. The more difficult the mother made my life, the more strain she put on our relationship and the more I was asked to sacrifice for someone I had never met – who didn’t have the decency to greet me – the more I wished that this child didn’t exist. Who wishes for a beautiful, little girl not to exist? What kind of a monster does this make me?

I was not allowed around the little girl for a long time and therefore we did not bond like I did with the other child.  She was the reason so much went so wrong for us early on. I nearly left because of her mother and the lack of boundaries between my boyfriend and her. Everything that nearly ended our relationship I was expected to grin and bare for this child’s sake. In the end we both discovered that it wasn’t about the child, but the mother and her issues. I regret agreeing to not be around the child because it has taken so much longer to bond.

I have discovered that there are grey areas. I am trying to learn to be normal in an abnormal situation. I am expected to do a lot of mothering without any of the rewards of being a mother. I have to make sure I don’t step on the mothers’ toes as I learn my role. I am constantly reminded that I am not their mother just in case I forget that I did not give birth to these children. Don’t try and take the mothers’ place. Don’t post a picture of me and the children on social media. Don’t help the children to make their mothers Christmas cards. Feed them, read to them, carry their stuff, spend money on them, clean up after them, cook for them, play with them but don’t try and parent them. I never seem to know where that line is. I worry about it constantly. What if they grow up to resent me or hate me? What if their dad and I break up and I lose not only the man I love, but his children too?

I cannot compete with a 2 year old for her father’s time and attention. It isn’t right. I don’t know how to balance needing him, but not being able to have him because 2 other little people need him. Last night I was distressed about my family back home and ended up crying. A two year old cries louder. I needed my boyfriend. She needed her daddy. I was left alone sobbing in the bathroom at 1am. I cannot be held because she needs to be held. She is 2. I am 32 and an idiot.

I wanted some quality time with my boyfriend after a few hectic weeks. This never happens when there are children around. Plans and schedules change on a whim. I have to fit in. My life is squeezed in around them. There is barely room for me. Between 3 jobs, 2 kids and 2 mothers, I feel like there isn’t much room for me. We seldom go on dates. There is no money because there are children. Every evening that the children are there I am lucky if we get half an hour of “us” time in front of a tv. No dinners or concerts or parties or cocktails or romantic weekends away….there is no money. Now I see how shallow I am; how much I love all the traditional parts of dating. And I like sex. A lot. We were about to have sex last night: clothes were coming off, kissing, touching…I had looked forward to it all day and then the 2 year old woke up. No sex. Again. I fell asleep by myself when all I wanted was his arms wrapped around me.

I look at my boyfriend and realize that he has done the baby thing already. All the firsts that I dreamed of will not happen. He has gone through 2 pregnancies with not one, but two women. He has his first born son. He has his precious daughter; the apple of his eye and the love his life.

When we started dating he didn’t want more children. I wanted to be excited about having our own children together, but it was always overshadowed by the knowledge that he had done this before. And in my heart of hearts I am scared he doesn’t really want more children. He tells me he will give me children to make me happy. I haven’t reconciled in my mind how all this works. And like his ex said, “three children from three mothers? How is that supposed to work.” Because I needed her to say that, to poison it, to take away from something that should be special for us.

All I know is how much I don’t know. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to be a step mother. I don’t know how to deal graciously with the mothers’ while still keeping my boundaries. I lose my mind when the crazy one calls constantly and texts him just to text him, and tries to control our lives. I get upset when I go to his parents house and her photo is still on the wall and his dad calls me her name by mistake. I cry when I give him a special gift for Christmas and sh e gives him the exact same gift “from the child”. I don’t know how to have my needs met without asking sounding like an ungrateful b**ch that I am: sleep, sex, time together, romance, boundaries…

I am tired all the time. I am stressed. I am anxious because I know this cannot work out. I am not meant for this role. All the fun of a new relationship is overtaken by crazy exes and children who will always trump me. And so they should. I am selfish. I am immature. I am a horrible, horrible person. If I know anything it is that I need to end this – not because I do not love him, but because he deserves so much better. His children deserve so much better. I have to leave, to walk away. I just don’t know how.

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5 thoughts on “On Dating A Man With Children

  1. K says:

    My dear, I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this situation must be. And I remember you saying from the beginning that you were scared to fall in love and end up in this situation… but we can’t help who we love 😦 And the lure of beautiful, romantic, exciting love is often all too much to resist. I want you to know that you are not being selfish at all and please don’t berate yourself! It sounds like you know what you want to do, and I am wishing you all the strength to put yourself first and take care of your needs. But whatever you may decide, you’ll always have my support 🙂

    xoxo
    K

  2. mylifeinblogs83 says:

    You are not selfish. Your feelings are normal. Whether it works out or not and whether you love him or not you are grieving for the relationship and family that you dreamed of. Thats ok. That doesnt make you a bad person and that doesnt diminish the relationship you are in. *hugs*. Only you can decide if this relationship is right for you. Either choice is ok and doesnt make you a bad person.

  3. Lola tetel says:

    I’m sorry for you, darling, been there, done that.

    I’m just talking from my experience here, but the best would be to end this relationship as soon as you can. It will never get better, the older the kids get, the bigger the problems.

    You are not selfish and please don’t say you are a monster, the reason you have these feelings is because you didn’t choose this, those feelings are natural and even healthy, it’s better to recognize your true feelings than trying to bury them inside you.
    You have needs and you are not happy with this situation, why have a boyfriend if you are not getting what you are expecting from him? I think we have enough with our ED’s, we don’t need to deal with crazy exes and children.

    I walked away from my ex and you have no idea how many times I wanted to come back, but as time passed everything was for the better.

    I wish you luck and I hope you get everything sorted out soon.

  4. nanatoky says:

    I am sorry you are experiencing all this but i appluad you for writjng it down. It does get better. Remember the lovely hot relationships we read about snd watch in the movies is so rare that it sells millions of books and box office tickets. Real life is hard. Now, tell yourself you are not their mom. This will help you for the rest of your life – 1) it lessens the hurt when they yell it at you and 2) you are NOT to blame when they do something wrong later because…you are not their mom! Try to make friends with the moms. Tell them you will never try to take their place you just want your own place. Ask the moms what they would like you to help them with (what is their bed-time at home, how long does she put them in time-out). Eventually they will realize you are not a threat snd come to appreciate you!

  5. I have walked in those shoes. I remember very well in the beginning how it felt. The loneliness. The fear. Weeping to my steering wheel in the middle of the night thinking ” i can’t fucking do this” and then seeing his face and understanding that I was way to far in to just walk away.

    How this feels…

    When you choose this path you learn quickly that you don’t get the chance to build a life together. Instead, you learn to fit into their life, into their world. And regardless of having all the pieces you soon learn that you will often feel like you are a piece that never quite fits right. Like you belong to a completely different puzzle and yet here you are desperately trying to jam yourself into a scenery that you don’t belong to.
    Nine years in and I will be honest with you. It is a hard road. And for a long time it was a lonely road. It took me years to understand that all of my anger and frustration was me mourning the years, the beginning of the story, that I was not a part of. To understand that there would be feelings that I could never share with him because it would only hurt him which inevitably drove a silent wedge between us. To truly recognize that as much as I understood why I would never be first , why I COULD never be first, that…that it would make me feel the way it did. The way it still does sometimes.

    But know this. It’s okay to feel the way you feel. I can identify with every word you write and even more so with the shame. Those children are the product of his love, of his life with someone else. You don’t just ” bond” like we imagine we will and know that it may take years, if even that, for that to happen on its own naturally. I remember reading that it’s okay not to instantly ” love” your step children. That they are as much strangers to you as you are to them and that that’s okay. That all you need to do is treat them with respect and kindness and find a way to be in eachothers life. It was this huge sigh of relief once I understood that it was okay. And it helped.
    Nine years later and we are still together. And yes, I still live behind the spotlight. And yes, there are times when I watch them together, when I see this father and son and I feel this sadness that is hard to describe to anyone. But it’s better now and we got through it, hanging on by a fucking thread mind you, but we got through it. No one knows but you. And whether you choose to stay or choose to leave, there is no wrong here.

    xo

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