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Looking for some support & advice : ) Honesty only please!

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Hi everyone!

I never thought I’d resort to a blog for some advice, but turns out that there aren’t a lot of people in my current position. I’m 30 and my boyfriend is 36. We have been together for 14 months and lived together since August 2018. I am technically not a stepmom yet, but it seems to be going that route in the near future. I have no biological kids..just a wonderful dog :). Anyway, my boyfriend’s sons are 7 & 9. They lost their mother 2 years ago to an illness. She was only 34. My boyfriend and his ex wife were divorced prior her request & mainly because she was so ill that it affected her mental health. She kind of changed into a different person and wanted a divorce. The boys are so well-behaved and my boyfriend genuinely loves me very much. He has made this situation & transition as easy as possible. In fact, I’ve dated men without kids who are way more complicated. With that being said, it is HARD sometimes for me. The boys care about me and tell their dad they miss me if I’m at a work training. They even call me on the phone if I’m away for work. However, the 7 year old (who has a heart of gold) has made a comment on two occasions about me not being part of their family. It bothers my boyfriend greatly. And it does affect me because I feel like such an outsider already. You see, I do want my own kids and I FINALLY found the guy that wants to give me everything I want & need. Just one problem - he had a vasectomy 5 yrs ago because his wife got so sick after the youngest was born that he was scared to have anymore. Anyway, he wants a child with me now and we have had a consult with a great doctor who says we are great candidates for a reversal. We plan on getting that done this February/March. Of course, naturally, I’m a negative thinker and I overthink EVERYTHING. I’m constantly thinking “what if it doesn’t work” “what will I do” “I’m only 30 - I can still run.” I just think terrible things sometimes and when comments like “im not part of the family” are makes me even worse. Sometimes I feel unhappy. Can anyone relate? Does anyone have any advice? I appreciate anything & everything! I encourage honesty!


ksmom14's picture

First of all, it sounds like things are going pretty well Smile so congrats

Second, a 7 year old is probably saying that you're not part of the family as a matter of fact, not because he doesn't care about you. At that age they are still figuring out how the world works, and to him, family is the standard Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Brother, etc. Your boyfriend could just talk to him about how family is really about those that are closest and most important to you (we've had these talks with our skids as my DH's bio dad is not involved, but his stepdad is). Try not to take this personally, it could truly be just a 7 year old thinking about the facts that y'all aren't married, not that he doesn't care about you.

Third, I was in a smilar boat as you with your boyfriend's vasectomy. My DH had TWO vasectomies (first one didn't work...hello SD13) that were done 10 years before we met and he got a reversal done. We now have two beautiufl daughers together Smile When I was thinking the same thoughts of "what if it doesn't work?!" I just decided to be positive, and to cross that boat when we got there. My DH was open to adoption, and a sperm donor, altough I hadn't even thought about my feelings on those. Also, there is another procedure (although much more expensive) where they can extract sperm directly out with a needle, andyou can do IVF with that. Just FYI

So welcome, and dont' stress, sounds like you have a great thing going!

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Thank you!!! I can’t tell you how much your message made me feel better. We have very similar situations. My mom actually said the same thing you said about the 7 year old not referring to me as family. & my boyfriend took it upon himself to explain to his son what family really is. He is such a great guy and has gone above and beyond to make sure I’m comfortable.  And funny you bring up ivf ..that is going to be our second plan if the reversal doesn’t work. Fortunately, we both work and the expense won’t be too hard on us. He does not like the idea of donor sperm cuz he wants it to be “his”. Which I understand. He mentioned adoption before, but having to resort to adoption and never seeing what my future biological child looks like..I don’t know if I could bear that. He told me the same thing you stay positive. The doctor seems super confident and we are traveling quite a distance due to the doctors wonderful reputation. Fingers crossed! I never thought I’d have these types of situations in my life, but I guess one never knows what’s ahead of them. I will try to relax. Thank you so much. It’s so great to hear from someone who can relate.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Similar boat, though BM isn't dead (not sure if that would make things easier or harder at this point).

Regarding the comment from your SS, you have to realize that you haven't been around that long. Two years may seem like a long time, but it's not. You have only lived with them since August. Their mother has only been passed for two years. All of this is still *incredibly* new. So, no, you likely don't feel like family yet.

My SSs were kind, loving, etc to me before DH and I got married. However, to them, until DH and I tied the knot or were together for much, much longer, I wasn't really family. I wasn't their SM. Society (and possibly BM) had taught them that marriage was important and it is what makes a family a family. It wasn't said out of disrespect, and they never treated me as less-than (which DH wouldn't allow anyway). Just, in their young minds, marriage = family.

If they treat you with respect and kindness, you can't ask for much more. You aren't their mother. You aren't their family. You are Dad's girlfriend. They have a mother who happens to no longer be living. They have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc on their maternal side. Her death doesn't leave a vacancy for a new parent or family. So, while they do need to adjust to their "new normal", you nor your BF can or should expect them to create one big, new, happy family. Being kind, loving, and respectful to you IS enough from them. Whether or not it is enough FOR YOU is a different matter altogether.

Regarding the vasectomy personal philosophy is "would I still be with my DH if his fertility issues were due to natural circumstances versus man-made?" And the answer is yes. If my DH were struck with low sperm count, etc and we couldn't have children naturally, I wouldn't leave. So why would I make a successful reversal of his vasectomy a deal breaker? Plus, even if it were successful, I have no proof that I am fertile. I could throw away my DH in hopes of getting pregnant elsewhere only to wind up being the problem, so then I'll be childless and alone.

Whether You want to adopt that philosophy or not is up to you. It's likely not a popular one, and that's okay. I know my life would likely be easier with a man or woman without kids. And maybe the fact that I can have relationships with women and know children would be a challenge there, too, makes me far more open-minded about the kid thing. But for me, it has always been about *intent* to want a family, and for my partner to build a family connection with me. Even if their kids don't want that.

Overall, though, none of this matters if your gut is telling you to run. If, deep down, you know you will resent him, and know you will resent your life because it may not go as you planned, then you need to walk away. Step life comes with a lot (think metric f*ckton) of compromise. If what you're being asked to compromise is too much, then it's okay to walk away. Many of us have walked away from partners we love because love doesn't make a relationship work long-term. And as much as it sucks to give up someone we love, what we potentially lose by giving ourselves wholly to a relationship that beats us down is so much worse. People can love abusers and enables and toxic people, and knowing that is enough to realize that love isn't enough.

No, I'm not telling you to walk away from your relationship. It's quite possible that you're just nervous and have cold feet. But don't do yourself the disservice of not examining those feelings. Dig deep - really deep - and be brutally honest with yourself. As much as you love your SO, does that love make up for the things that you potentially lose by staying? Do you gain enough from him to make it worthwhile to stay? Those are some deep and dark conversations you have to have with yourself, and I highly recommend finding a therapist who can help you sort through those thoughts and feelings appropriately.

I also recommend sticking around here and reading the stories of other SPs. It's not always nice and pretty. You'll likely be shocked at what you read. But it's reality for many of us. It's the cold, hard truth that society doesn't portray as they vilify SMs and talk about "bonus kids" in their "bonus family". Stepparenthood is HARD. Make sure you're really committed to it before you jump in and tie yourself to it biologically and/or legally.

ESMOD's picture

Ok, regarding the 7 year old's comments about you not being family.  Well.. kids kind of can be very black and white with their thought process and right now, he is correct, you are not part of his family.  You are his dad's girlfriend that he apparently likes and you like him too.  Even if you get married, you still will not technically be the boy's mother (bio).. you will be dad's that doesn't mean you can't still have a great/loving relationship with him.. but for a variety of reasons.. he may not be comfortable with the label of MOM when it comes to you.  I don't think it's personal.. so please try to not take it that way.  I find that the people who have the most success with steplife are the ones who are the most flexible and can kind of roll with the flow vs trying to put their indelible "stamp" on the household.  So many have made misteps by running in and trying to 100% change the way the household works.. not saying that if there are zero rules it works well.. but going in and making the kids adhere to new and much more stringent standards overnight can cause issues. 

You have a great guy.. raising great kids.. support him in that and let the relationship with his kids develop naturally.

As far as the vas and reversal.. there are no guarantees with anything really.. you could meet and fall in love with a guy that has a low count and you wouldn't know it until things "didn't happen".  You are also a factor and you never 100% know your full fertility probablilty either.  What would you do if you (personally) were not able to have kids (not talking about his issues.. but you).. what would you do? Adopt? remain childless?  So, it's a risk but maybe the doctor can give you some idea of the kind of risk it is.. would your DH be ok if you went AI if he couldn't get you pregnant? 

Merry's picture

Even the best relationships are hard sometimes. I doubt the "not part of the family" comment was meant to be hurtful. But what a good opportunity to talk about all different kinds of families. Maybe it just means that he knows you and his daddy aren't married. And if Dad reinforces that yoiu are, in fact, family, that's really all you need. The child might have more questions, and that is healthy.

Why do you think you feel like an outsider? Is there something you need? Are you living in the former marital home? 

There is never a guarantee that any given couple will conceive. And then there are pregnancy complications that can happen. You will worry yourself silly if you dwell on things that might or might not happen. 

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Thank you! I know he didn’t mean it to be hurtful. The truth is ..I’m very understanding and not easily offended. It’s almost like the more I care about them, the more I do for them, the more I do get offended about things though. Is that normal? But yes, the outsider thing..we do live in his house that he had with his wife. My boyfriend has, on several occasions, brought up moving or building a new home for us. I just wish we had something of “ours” and a fresh start for the boys too. I know people have brought up the fact that I will never be mom to them, but it’s more so my boyfriend that wants that. I have reminded him that I am a support for them and I won’t treat them any differently, but they have a mom.  I think also..I was engaged prior and have my heart broken. I struggled with that for a couple years. As a result, I remained single for 3.5 years and focused on my career and then I met my bf. he was so persistent and kind. But I am not going to lie..the vasectomy thing was the elephant in the room since day 1. So I think feeling like an outsider is caused by a few different factors. I guess I should take it day by day and just enjoy things for now

lieutenant_dad's picture

I'm not good at making things sound nice, so take this as positive as humanly possible:

Your BF is wrong for trying to make you "replacement mom" or wanting that for his kids. It's likely heartfelt, and he likely just wants his kids to grow up with a mom. It's commendable.

However, it's not reality, and your BF needs to seriously shake it from his head. His persistence, even if only a gently nudge here and there, will likely damage your relationship with his kids more so than help it.

Parents need to make sure that their children are polite and respectful of their SO. Whether or not the kid and partner like each other, love each other, or have a relationship is entirely on the kid and partner. These two individuals are, well, individuals. They are separate entities who have their own thoughts and feelings. You can be the greatest person in the world - the reincarnation of Jesus himself - and that STILL doesn't mean that a kid will like you. And the fact is, they don't ever HAVE to.

That is a thought process that your SO needs to understand and fully embrace before you take on the roles of mother and wife. We've seen it on here before of men who are looking for replacement moms for their kids, and as soon as they are married or have a mutual child, they expect their partner to fully embrace motherhood with ALL the children. Then they get upset when it doesn't work, and they don't realize that their pushing and shoving this model family is a big part of the reason why it's not viable.

I don't think your BF is a bad person, or scheming, or anything intentionally negative. I think he is just falling into one of the divorced parent traps, one set up by society saying that your partner is a bad partner if they don't love and take care of the kids like their own. That is hogwash, and something that has to happen organically if it happens at all.

Harry's picture

Before you total commit to this marrage.  Kids need perfessional help, losing a mother at that age is has to cause many problems in them.  They need someone to talk to.  That might save a lot of head aches in the future. Yes, you can always get out if thing go sideways .  You have to know that you may always be an outsider.  What about BM. BM and her BF are they involved? And to what degree?  BM , sister and brother ?  

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Yes! I agree! They did see a mental health professional as well as school guidance counselors. The older one exhibits anxiety and is more of a perfectionist...which personally I keep my eye on. The younger one is a major free spirit and super silly. Both wonderful bright kids. I have an educational background in psychology and prior work experience with juveniles that come from all walks of life. Currently I’m in law enforcement. I know what to look for and how to identify it. I see the possible issues that may arise and I do note them to my boyfriend. I take the approach of being proactive rather than reactive. Fortunately my boyfriend is spot on too. We are two very educated, and observant people. Nothing gets by us. And if it does, we will handle it appropriately.  Thank you so much for your input. I appreciate that thought because not many people go near that topic. 

Healyourslf's picture

Think Positive. Great advice on here. You have a supportive BF/future husband and the boys sound very open to accepting you as their "mother."

AT 7 years, kids understand things symbolically. He will become more aware of feelings other than his own.
This is a great book for kids. I bought it for a friend who is in a blended family with young children.

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Thank you!!!! You are right. I will definitely check out that read. I appreciate it

Survivingstephell's picture

My only advice is the let the vasectomy reversal heal fully before you test out the equpiment.  We didn't quite wait long enough and ran into a problem that was solveable but left us wondering if it could have been avoided by being patient.  We had one shot for it to all work as we both had issues but we have a beautiful 9yo girl out of the whole experience.  We were also older than you and SO are so that should be in your favor too.  

As for the boy, I wonder what he thinks family is and if he was goading his dad into proposing to you.  You can never underestimate what a kid can come up with.  


CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Great advice! Thank you! And funny you say that because both kids recently asked my boyfriend if we were going to get married. (I wasn’t home at the time). My boyfriend told me. His response was “that could be a possibility in the future..what do you guys think?” And both boys said they want us to get married. My close friends all have their own families and are on having child #3. I think a couple of friends may think my situation isn’t “ideal.” One of my co workers always says she would never date anyone with kids. I just never had that mind frame. I was always long as there were no huge red flags waving. I have to say..for having the potential to be a complicated is generally an easy situation. It’s just my feelings get in my own way. If thy makes sense! Btw - maybe tmi - but how long did it take you to conceive? 

Survivingstephell's picture

DH had 4 and I had 3 when we got together.  Due to our older ages, a vasectomy and not getting with a specialist right away it took 18 months.  Once we got with the specialist, 3 months. (one cycle)  We had no trouble concieving, (7 kids!!!!) just me keeping it going at my age at the time and an issue due to the vasectomy reversal. Nothing that couldn't be worked with.     You are younger and I would hate for you to go with my experience.  Everyone is different.  

ndc's picture

I don't know anything about vasectomy reversal, but I have some experience with little kids and "family."  My SO has a 3 yo and a 6 yo.  The 6 yo has told me that I'm not in their family, even though I've been around for a couple years, they live with us half the time and they're also with me every weekday.  They spend more time with me than with either of their parents.  However, she also told me that once SO and I get married, I'll be her stepmom and then I'll be in the family.  So to this kid, married=family, and it's nothing more than that.  She's not trying to exclude me, just tell me the facts as she knows them.  I wouldn't be surprised if your BF's 7 yo has a similar thought process, and whether it's by virtue of more time or marriage, you'll become family.

tog redux's picture

You have a good situation, you can likely become these boys' mom (I hope you will adopt them) and your husband is a good parent. It won't be smooth sailing, but those two factors will help a lot.  Most of us are on this board because we either deal with a crazy other bio parent, or the spouse is a crappy parent (or both), and you have neither.

Of course you are nervous, but I don't hear anything that says "run" to me.

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

You are right..I don’t have neither of those things. Thank you so much for your kind words. My boyfriend and I have discussed adoption and we’ve decided that I would do so. I’d be honored really. When I think about it in depth...I understand this situation isn’t for everyone. But a single mother or a single father must REALLY see something good in the partner they choose to bring into their children’s lives. We must be very special : )

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Adopting them would be foolish. You will be financially responsible for them even if it turns out the vasectomy reversal fails/you are infertile.

I will never take responsibility for my stepbrat even if chain-smoking BM croaks.

still learning's picture

The kids already have a mother they were bonded to even though she's deceased. It would be foolish and insensitive to adopt children that old. Dad really shouldn't be making decisions like that for his children with a girlfriend of just over a year.  

lieutenant_dad's picture

What do the kids think about you adopting them?

As SL said, they were bonded with their mother. They loved her. They may not want you coming in and taking over where she left off.

Kids can be really accepting of new partners at the start, but as the relationship becomes longer term and more serious, that can change. That is why it is SO important to take things slow and really look at the relationship you're in.

Kids shouldn't have a say in who their parent dates or marries, but they should, and do, have a say in their relationship with that person and their own parent. Pushing marriage, new siblings, and adoption onto kids who lost their mother only two years ago is a LOT. Waiting to have the relationship we want is a compromise that has to be made in step families, and parents who ran through new spouses quickly run into problems down the road.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Disengage. I disagree that his remark was benign; it means “you don’t matter to me except for favors/your money/cooking for me.” My stepbrat made similar remarks.

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

If you don’t mind me asking, are you fully unhappy in your marriage/relationship & stepkids? I’m asking only based off your last 2 responses so please don’t take me wrong. I also don’t want to cross any boundaries, but why do you stay in a situation that makes you sound so harsh? I honestly appreciate your input. & no, I would not adopt any child until I have a solid foundation of a successful marriage. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

Saynoskidschitchat- Are you sure you are commenting on the right post? I’m not trying to be harsh, but disengaging doesn’t fit with what OP posted at ALL. It sounds like she has a good relationship, and a good relationship with good skids. Why would she disengage? 

It just seems like your go-to response to literally every post on  this site is either “run”!, or “disengage”! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that just doesn’t sound like advice that will actually be helpful to most people. The answer can’t always just be run or disengage, especially in this case. No offense, and it may not be your intent, but you do tend to come off as being extremely jaded. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

It’s unfortunate that pretty much the only snag in your relationship so far seems to be the vasectomy...which of course is a pretty big deal. Everyone gave great advice (for the most part), but might I add...please keep an open mind regarding your options for kids. Hopefully the reversal works and you won’t even have to act on any “Plan B’s”, but There are soo many ways the two of you could have a child together. They may not be the same as having your very own, but I do believe life works out the way it’s supposed to. And if having a birth child with your SO isn’t in the cards for you, I bet you would be surprised at how happy you could be with your SO and you adopting, or artificial insemination.... It would still be an amazing adventure you and your SO would be on together, and it would be YOUR child. Embrace whatever life has in store for you. :) 

I hope it all works out the way you want it to! 

marblefawn's picture

His kids are young -- they don't have abstract thinking skills to realize you are part of the family. And your relationship isn't that old. I think when you're around a while longer, the kids won't think of you as an outsider. In their world, their mom was just there yesterday. The important thing is whether they like you. If they do, you will naturally fold into to idea of "family" as time goes on.

I'd say you're in a good situation. While you might not have your own kids if the reversal doesn't work, you'll have his kids free and clear, without a meddling, hostile BM keeping you at bay. This is about as good as stepparent situations get.

still learning's picture

I agree that the situation is good though not ideal for OP.  As for meddling, that can come from anyone.  BM's side of the family may step in when they realize there is a new "mommy" taking their daughters place and cause havoc.  MIL could cause drama by favoring the older kids rather than the ours baby.  Anything can happen, this is true for all relationships but moreso when step family dynamics are involved.  

VNichol's picture

I can honestly relate to you. It's ALL new to me too. I was 32, no kids, never lived with a man before or dated a man with a young child(3 yrold at the time). I cringed at dating because it was not fun anymore. I just met him and i knew he was the one i wanted to share my life with him. After the date he called his mom and told her "I  found her mom, the one.....but she is leaving the country for 10days!" Lol I still think it too cute. He is 36 with a young son. Divorced a little over a year and wanted to date again, BM left the marriage. The day i came back from vacation i went to his house because he cooked me a birthday dinner. I was hesitant because i don't go over to mens houses right away but when i got there his son was here too. Moved in 3 months later and It felt right with him. (Even with BM drama because I told him, YOU handle her and I didn't pay her no mind) Not from the start but as soon as I moved in. It was a game to her, (i don't want you but as soon as he get a gf she wants him back....ha ha ha ha) Nope, im no good at sharing. 

BM would see her son and have him less than 24hrs and drop him back off untill she learned of me living there. Then she would have their son more like 4 days in a row max (till this day). She would teach him not to call me mommy,i m not his real mommy, i am not family, he don't have to listen to me, if I spank him call her right away! All kinds of other things I can't think of right now. 

I know your Ss7 is still adjusting to you being there. Does he  think you are his mom's replacement? Someone in the family might be in his ear, he could be getting it from kids at school. Don't let that discourage you in being the best Smommy you are to him. Yes it hurts but i have to remind myself he is only 4..... It's not him, it's her! 

I'm happy that you two have family plans together. I say to myself  take  the bad days with the good because i see something so wonderful in this man it worth my time my efforts and I DESERVE A MAN LIKE THIS. ( I take care of my disabled mom where my paycheck goes to and he has never has asked me to pay a bill in this house) of course i do contribute in alot of other ways but he takes care of me. 

I treat this relationship as if there is no option to run, stay and work it out because it affects more than just you and him. My SS finally stopped a month ago asking me," Are you coming back?" when i go to work. That broke my heart every time because he was 2 when his bio mom walked out on them.  

Be happy with them and on your days you need "ME time" just communicate that with your BF. It has worked for me. He gets in his feelings but I tell him some days i need to JUST BE! I'm here if you need to vent more, I can relate to the changes of being just me..... to all 3 of US. 

still learning's picture

OP, I'm wondering what the rush is? You've known this guy for just over a year, moved in two months ago and now want him to reverse his vascetomy. Is marriage in the future or is the entire goal of this relationship to get a sperm donation from him?  Does he really want a child with you or is this at your insistence and he'll play along to keep you?  

The guys wife died not long ago, the kids lost their mother and you want to come in and change everything to fit your wants.  New "mommy", new sibling.  The kid says you're not part of the family and now you want to add another part of yourself to it.  As a very outsider point of view this whole situation seems very one sided and not well throught out.  

CrazyBeautifulLife's picture

Hi still learning - thanks for your input, I really do appreciate it! There is no rush, however; I was personally at the point in my life where I took the time to be single (3.5 - 4 years singlehood), further my career, & learn how to be fully on my own both financially & emotionally. So yes, I was ready to find “that” relationship. & I turned down many men because I felt they wouldn’t make great husbands & fathers TO ME. They were great people, but for someone else. Please believe me, this relationship & situation has never been one sided. My boyfriend knew from day 1 what my expectations were. Finding a man who understood my expectations & was ready for commitment was important to me. So please don’t think I waltzed into just any relationship looking for “a sperm donor.” Trust me, I had my options. & just because I had expectations does not mean my boyfriend was all about it. We dated for several months, got to know one another’s family & friends (including meeting BM’s side of the family - which are great people as well), and THEN my boyfriend made the decision whether he could see himself raising kids with me or not. This was not an overnight decision. & marriage is in our future. In fact, neither he or I feel comfortable raising a child together if we are not married. Also, this may not matter but my boyfriend was divorced a year before her death. He stayed single after that and his ex-wife had a boyfriend at the time of her death for about 6 months. Turns out he was a great guy too. In reference to his sons, they were constantly asked by my boyfriend in the beginning if it was OK if I came over to hang out or go places with them. It got to the point where they started asking where I was and if I was coming. So while you may think this was a random choice I made in life..I completely disagree. I wouldn’t be coming on a blog asking for advice from people who can relate if I didn’t take my situation and the kids seriously. I’m not trying to play mommy. I’m trying to find my place. Please be supportive.

lieutenant_dad's picture

To be honest, as that is what you have asked for, you seem to be cherry-picking the advice you respond to, either by calling out advice you don't find helpful or only thanking the folks who seem to view it the way you do. That's not seeking advice - that's seeking validation.