Perspective and reflection. (Wow, really long. Sorry)
I found this forum in an attempt to find people who had been through the same thing that I'm going through. I'm appreciating it more and more for the perspective that it gives me about our situation.
I have a son, 7, who has never had a father. Wasn't married to his BD, in fact, he stopped talking to me when I was 6 months pregnant. I was 17, DS was born the summer after I graduated from high school. We struggled through college. I worked full time, went to classes full time, and my parents helped me with child care as much as they could. But I never felt like I had much time for him. He spent a year with my folks (during my last year of school) when money was tight, and I wouldn't be able to make enough to keep him in after school care, and pay for rent too. After graduation, he moved back in with me. I was 23, and just really starting to feel an emotional attachment with my 5-year-old. Around the time he turned 6, I met my FH.
He has two DD's, currently 6 and 4. I love them like my own. I hear a lot of contention about that phrase, on this forum and others. But I think that the reason I feel the way I do, is that I was just learning how to appreciate my son at the same time I was inheriting two daughters. We have joint custody and have the girls every other week, 7 on, 7 off.
Their BM is unstable, and unkind, and a liar. But from reading other peoples' horror stories, I feel grateful that she hasn't taken an active role in trying to destroy our lives. She doesn't bad-mouth FH to the kids. She hasn't kicked up a fuss about me coming to their events or school functions. She's very un-involved with the kids' lives normally. I think she's stepped it up a little lately because she feels like she has to compete with me. I'm not interested in competing, I already won. I have an amazing man, and two beautiful, kind SD's who are very well behaved and who genuinely love both me and my son. Any way you slice it, that's a win. I'm not trying to replace her, and even if I was, I don't think it's possible. She's their mom.
I'm optimistic about going into therapy with BM and her FH. In our situation, all four of us are parents. All four are emotionally invested in making sure the kids are raised happy and healthy. But our communication is sh*t. FH quails when she threatens, which is frequently. And anything that goes wrong is our fault. She's quick to find something wrong with the kids (they're allergic to something, they're dyslexic, they're delicate flowers who must be kept indoors wrapped in bubble wrap). She's like a bad boss. When the phone rings, and it's her, it's always bad news. And so you start to dread it. Seeing her name on our caller ID makes my stomach sink.
BM's idea of a perfect situation is where we're all friends, we have dinner at each other's houses for the exchange, all birthday parties are shared events, etc. She really has serious control issues, and really wants to be the one who dictates how our lives will be. She doesn't like my son, and accused him of molesting the girls, but balked when we suggested that a call to CPS would be appropriate to suss out the situation. The idea of sharing a meal with her makes me intensely uncomfortable.
And we're not without fault in the communication breakdown. She threatens, and so we go into defensive mode. Picked up the "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission" attitude. It's a struggle not knowing what will set her off, and so we've slid into a place where "the less information she has about what goes on at our house, the better." She hates FH's parents, and gets very angry when we send the children there to visit. But she didn't request a ROFR in the DD, and we feel like the kids should be able to see their grandparents.
So next Tues is our first "all four" session, and I'm apprehensive. The alternating weeks schedule is unofficial; the DD says we have every weekend, and she has every weekday. The therapist suggested that we get an amendment to the DD, so that neither of us will be breaking it by keeping the EOW thing. I'm worried that she won't agree to that, because she's consistently using the threat of "well, we'll just go back to what the decree says". Not that weekends wouldn't be easier, because we live 45 minutes away from their school. It's a hell of a drive every week. But we like being involved in their lives. Their day to day homework normalcy. Makes it easier to be legit parents and not Disney parents. But I guess we'll see. It's really been weighing on me lately.
Whewf, sorry that turned out so long.