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Blissfully Ignorant - Hardcore Blindsides

I Think I Am's picture

I came into my SS’s lives 5yrs ago when OSS was 11 & YSS was 9. I instantly disengaged, not on purpose, I just didn’t want to be their mother. If I do want to mother anybody – I’ll have my own children. I have my share of issues with SO & in Steplife but this isn’t one of them. My SO doesn’t expect me to cook for his kids or pick them up or any of that. I have done some of these things, very rarely, over the years but when I’ve offered not because he’s asked. This does lead to me picking up more of the slack at home while he’s off picking up & dropping off (& so on) but that’s par for the course & I’m fine with it (most of the time anyway).

The only issue with blissful ignorance is that I sometime get hardcore blindsided. Small example, a few years ago YSS was turning 12 & we attended a combined birthday party, organised by BM & her DH. As we (& the other guests) came through the door, BM was handing out the gift we were to give to YSS, I was so confused. BM hasn’t, doesn’t & won’t work, however she always ensures her kids get the best of the best (very materialistic). So I knew this wasn’t out of her pocket. When I had a chance, I asked my SO what was going on with the presents & he said he paid BM his money, she bought the gift online. He assumes she did that for most of the other people attending the party. Weird way to do it but okay. I left it at that because it’s his money & his son.

I hate not knowing these things though. It feels wrong, partners discuss things, I don’t like being the only uninformed party in the room. In these moments, I feel like a nice accessory, rather than a whole person with a brain & critical thinking skills & substance. It’s also another reminder that SO & BM discuss all sorts of things & I’m not privy to any of it which makes me feel kind of betrayed (not trying to be dramatic – it’s just a feeling). Again, this was just a small example (& truly no biggie in & of itself) but I could go on & on about the amount of times these kinds of things happen, I do not want to be any more engaged (this seems to work best for all of us) but I also don’t want to be ignorant. Any thoughts!?


JRI's picture

It sounds like you and SO have a SK arrangement that many on this site will envy.  If you're not getting any kind of vibe where his interaction is BM is romantic, I'd let it go.  

My DH (finally) got to a place where he discussed the SKs with BM at work, this was in pre-cell days.  Before that, I was hearing more of the details, none of which made me happy.

I'd say that if the detail doesn't concern you, let it be.  If it starts being something that impacts you, like, " by the way, the boys will be here x more days", that's different.  Good luck.

I Think I Am's picture

I have many reservations in Stepworld (which is so confusing at times) but I've never worried about SO & BM romantically ever. The combined birthdays & the like are not the way I would coparent if the roles were reversed but I do think friends is better than enemies so I try to be open minded. I hear you, the devil is in the detials & I'd rather my focus be elsewhere, but even that isn't a perfect solution & I end up not knowing what on Earth is going on sometimes. That's a good distinction, ensuring it doesn't bleed over to schedule changes ect, which affect our home. Thanks for your thoughts, I always like reading your replies to others, it's interesting to see things from 'the other side' so to speak.

tog redux's picture

My step situation was much like yours except I was included in anything he was doing with SS and BM. Not literally, as in a group chat or me attending everything, but everything was discussed with me.  In the end, all of it was his decision, but he sought my advice and input. 

I think it's reasonable to feel TOO disengaged. You may not be "stepmother" but you are his partner and therefore, IMO, should know about these parts of his life. Much as he might ask for your advice on a job issue. 

I Think I Am's picture

So your DH naturally just chose to run things by you even though the decision sat with him in the end? I'd be happy with that! My SO doesn't naturally do this, though, he talks to BM (if it's about the boys - obviously) so I guess he doesn't see the need to also run things by me!? 

tog redux's picture

Yes - but in our case BM was a high conflict nut so there was lots of drama and things to deal with. He also would just ask my opinion on parenting matters.

I Think I Am's picture


lieutenant_dad's picture

I see both sides of this. On one hand, you are his partner and he should be sharing things with you. On the other, you've made it clear you don't want to be involved and he's respecting that by not involving you.

The devil is in the details. If spending money means that your SO can't meet mutual financial goals and obligations, that's a problem that needs to be discussed. If y'all are supposed to wear or bring or be prepared for something at these joint events, but he's leaving you in the dark, that's a problem. But if his actions don't impact you directly, and you've made it clear you're disengaged, then it's not a problem.

Also keep in mind how you act when it comes to anything related to his kids and ex. If he has tried to talk to you about them to get your input and you shut him down, change the subject, or give a noncommittal "that's nice dear", you're telling him you don't want to be involved, so why would he involve you?

Remember, your SO isn't a mind reader. If there are certain things you want or feel the need to be involved in, speak up. Just recognize that wanting him to do things differently also may mean you have to do things differently. We usually deal with stepparents here who have "responsibility without authority" when it comes to their SKs. The opposite of that is "authority without responsibility". If you're wanting to have a say about things that you're not directly involved in and don't directly involve you, then you may have to figure out how to be involved in the thing. Your feelings of being an accessory are valid, but it's for you to get over those feelings of being an accessory when that's the role you've put yourself into since the beginning.

Everything in steplife is nuanced. Whether engaged or disengaged, there is a trade-off. Each of us has to decide which trade-off is worth it. 

I Think I Am's picture

Thank you for your feedback - it's really great food for thought. My SO definitely isn't a mind reader, he's also terrible at picking up hints, I do try & be direct but it doesn't always work. Authority without responsibility' is a good way to put it & I'll admit I'm reluctant to 'reinvent the wheel' at this stage but I wish I understood the nuances of Steville at the start so I could find the right balance from the beginning.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Recognize, too, that Stepville isn't always going to be consistent, so it is totally reasonable that you have to make changes over time. It's a relationship like any other, and it intersects with your relationship with your SO and your personal relationships with the kid(s).

If you find, as a kid gets older, that you bond with them over an activity or interest, you may find yourself naturally becoming more engaged with them. Or you may have personal experience with schooling or career development where your input is uniquely valuable. Conversely, your relationship could sour with SO and you feel the need to pull away even further, or even pull away temporarily while you work through issues.

It's okay to change in this. The key is openly communicating that with your partner. It's okay to say "hey SO, I know I have been hands off in the past, but now that we're more serious and I'm being involved in more with the kids, I'd like for us to discuss X, Y, and Z together so I can stay in the loop, even though I know you have the ultimate decision-making when it comes to kids."

SeeYouNever's picture

That certainly is kind of weird to send money then have her get the gift. I think it's reasonable for you to have wanted to know beforehand, though were you going to the party empty handed or did you have other gifts? 


I Think I Am's picture

I just asked SO if he'd sorted a gift, he said he had, I believed him. Honestly, i don't know how BM gets away with being the way she is & doing the things she does, I often feel like the only one is the room who thinks things are weird so I'm glad you do too... Means I'm not crazy.