I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. If your house is anything like mine, the weekend is just a day to clean and another day to watch it get dirty again. Story of our lives! I remember well my last year of last school when I had eight kids in my home everyday. Seemed like I could never get a grip on the housework. Blended families are something! That's a whole different Oprah.
In a perfect world, we would meet a great guy and he'd think we were just as great. We would meet, fall in love, marry, have 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence. We'd live life as Mr. and Mrs. Perfect, grow old together, play with our grandkids and great grandkids and then die at exactly the same time so neither of us would have to live without the other. Well, and then we woke up.
Unfortunately, in the days where there really is only a 50-50 chance of a marriage working, we deal with the reality that the person we marry, may have children from a previous marriage(s)/relationship(s). And of course, they also have to realize that they aren't exactly our opening act of the play either. With every single parent comes the child and the other half of the chromosomes. If you and this guy are planning to be together a while, you are going to have to come into contact with this woman at some time or another.
With children come birthday parties, graduations, weddings, funerals, sports games, dance recitals, phone calls from school, you get the picture. Some things, like birthday parties you can get around and each parent do one on separate days, but I doubt if they are going to have two weddings just to keep the peace. Since the mother of that child is going to be a part of your life as long as that person's child is, you might as well get over it and get comfortable. The last thing the kids need to see is division in the house. Trust me that if the kids get a whiff of weakness, they will be all on it like cellulite and stretch marks on a flabby rump!
I have dated two men whose children lived at home with them. When we started getting serious and the kids would be over all the time, I made it clear that their mothers could call and speak to their kids or check up on them with no problem out of me. Of course, calling at 3am would be inappropriate but I wanted the mothers to be put at ease. It is hard for a mother to let her child be with anyone she does not know. WE are moms so we know first hand what she's feeling. If they were coming to pick the kids up, I would invite them in, offer them something to eat or drink, and have a general conversation. Chances are, you are having more interaction with the kids at your house than the dad because, well, its just what we do. Women are nurturers by instinct and we ask questions.
Now I'm not saying that me and their moms were best pals, giving each other high fives at Starbucks, or having pillow fights in our underwear. I'm saying, I treated them with the same respect that I would want, and treated their kids with the same rules and perks as I did my own. Of course, this only works if both of you are willing to be mature adults. She was his past and there is no changing that. You weren't apart of it and it shouldn't be a problem for you. Your concern should be moving forward and if you love that person, you should care about those who are presumably the most important people in his life right now, his children.
My ex-husband has a wonderful girlfriend, Anna. When I send my kids from Missouri to Washington for the summer, I don't worry about if they are being neglected or mistreated. She will call and update me, email me, text me, send pictures, have the kids call, anything I need to keep me from walking down the highway in a fit of panic and murderous rage. I know she genuinely loves my children and treats them like she treats her own. We have a mutual respect for each other as women, mothers, and people who have the best interest of my kids at heart. Not all women are like that.
You have to know yourself first. If you aren't mature enough to handle the fact that your boyfriend has children from a previous relationship, then hold off. I say that for two reasons: First, neither you, your boyfriend, or the mother of his child, need the drama; Second, if you come at the wrong one crazy, who also hasn't accepted the fact that her ex has a new woman, you may get hit in the head with a brick! So hol' up swole up and take a step back. Three main things that tear many relationships apart are money, sex, and kids. Those are three problems you don't want to have when you enter a relationship. Think for a second, how you would feel if a man was un-accepting of your kids or would start a fight every time their dad called or came to pick them up.
I think we would all agree that this not a problem you want to have for the rest of your life. Having kids is a lifetime commitment and not just for you. If you can't handle it, don't waste your time or his because you will both end up hurt in the end as well as the kids. Don't underestimate kids. They know when you don't like them, especially when you got your face all stanked up at them! That's right, I said stanked! Kids internalize so much to be so little. They always seem to think everything is about them and thusly every problem has to be caused by them. I know sometimes we may want to shake them and say "Get over yourself Jr." but those are the facts. Hopefully we are all mature enough to realize they are not the problem and won't subject them to grown up problems. God knows as soon as they hit 18, they get a birthday card and a box of bills and problems just like we did.
Secondly, don't push the issue. Not all women are the same and not all women are mature. Be the adult at all times. If you put out kindness and its not returned, don't stoop to their level. You can't change another person's actions. If she is something he has to deal with, and she causes him problems, don't add to the problems and don't try to be the problem solver. You aren't Dr. Phil. She may not want to reason with you. However, you will make life easier and your relationship more enjoyable if you stay in your lane. All you can do is extend the invitation for kindness, it up to the other person to accept. Not the invitation to meet you in the front yard to hit her in the head with a brick either! Sometimes the best help, is being supportive and not taking her actions personal. You probably aren't the first new girlfriend she has come out of the bag with and if you start acting just as crazy, you won't be last.
I have an awesome step-mother. I don't know all the behind the scenes working of what went on and I'm glad I don't. She is supportive, and unless she's going for an academy award for best actress, she genuinely loves and cares for me and my siblings. This is a woman who got out of the car in the snow and walked to find my law school graduation. I have never known her to be rude to my mom or the mother of my younger two siblings. Now I do know that at times, others did not extend the same respect. My mother is much the same way. She is not interested in causing drama for my step-mom, and to my knowledge she never has. I think by having these two examples, it shaped the way I approach other mothers and the possibility of being a step-mother. You really don't want to be the wicked step-mother or you'll probably soon be the next ex-girlfriend/wife.
Lastly, your kids are watching. I watched my parents, listened even when I didn't want to. I like to imitate people and have been quite good at it for as long as I can remember. My kids are the same way. I can't stress enough that we are the role models for our kids and their image of what an adult is. Your son/daughter may grow up one day and have children with someone they don't stay with forever. Someone may be the step-parent to your grandchild and your child may one day be the step-parent to someone else. You don't want to be the "don't let this happen to you" example. You don't want to see yourself being imitated by them as Grace Jones in Conan the Barbarian or Rocky. You definitely don't ever want to be pegged as Mommy dearest.
If she is willing, meet her, let her feel comfortable calling to check on her children. Don't confuse this with people who like play games and use the kids as 007 secret agents. Keep it business, you don't need to hear of your boyfriend's shortcomings from this lady. That is disrespectful and none of her business. The goal is and should always be the welfare of the children and the relationships formed with them. The focus should not be "Jimmy needs a pair of shoes", "Frank won't send child support", "He cheated on me with Shirley." You may think you want to know, but trust me you don't. Some people like to play games and will set out to destroy your relationship. They don't want him but don't want anyone else to have him either. You will hear enough through the grapevine as it is. Use some discretion and trust your instinct, you will know when there's a misfire and something just isn't right in the conversation. That's your cue to politely end the conversation.
Until next time, stay blessed and encouraged.