You are here

Yes, it's like a car crash. No, I can't look away.

Oh Margie's picture

So, Ok. I have gotten to know a woman at work (I'll call her "K") over the past couple of months. During our chats, she has told me a lot about her boyfriend. K is in her 40's, voluntarily childless and has told me many times that she doesn't want anything intense with anyone right now. She loves the fact that her BF works a lot because they just hook up on the wknds, watch movies have awesome dinners and have fun. Nice and simple. Sounds perfect to me!
Then, a few weeks ago she tells me 'I HAVE to meet my BF's kids this wknd" News to me, Mr. Wonderful has 2 kids, Daughter 7 and Son 5. K is obviously pretty stressed and not ready for this but the summer visitations schedule has kicked in and BF is going to have the kids for the next few wknds so she wants to give it a try.

Ugh, honestly it was crazy how quickly all my own feelings of anxiety came rushing back, just hearing about this!

So. Week one. K comes in on Monday morning, all smiles. Everyone had a great wknd, the kids are absolutely adorable and funny and cute and well behaved. Also, K is amazed at what a great dad BF is. I'm really happy for her, but I can't help remembering that first rush of honeymoon period. and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Throughout the week, K is googling fun activities to do with the kids next wknd, planning fun meals for everyone, etc etc. Everything is awesome!!!

Week two, K has a smile on her face Monday morning but it looks a little thin around the edges. She has some smudges under her eyes too. Once again, everyone had a great wknd, things are fine, etc. Then she casually mentions that she is extra tired because apparently the kids won't go to sleep unless daddy is in bed with them (! Red Flag!) Of course K thinks this is "soooo sweet" even though the result was the kids fussing all night long and no-one getting any sleep.

Also, K thinks it's hilarious that BF son is "such an individual" Meaning: he refuses to sit on his bottom when dining out. He "has" to stand on his seat or play on the restaurant floor (!!). K is also "blown away" by what a great Dad BF is throughout all of this. She's impressed that he doesn't let any of the tantrums bother him, he is "so chill" about everything and just lets the kids do their own thing (!!!) without BF getting in the way. Finally, K is angry at the kids BM because BFson had a huge meltdown and didn't want to go back with BM on Sunday (after a wknd of amusement parks, cook-outs, junk food and water parks). Both K and her BF think it soooo mean of BM to force the kids to stick to the schedule. If it was up to K's BF the 5 year old would dictate the schedule based on where he's having the most fun (!!!!) And everyone at work is nodding along with her and agreeing that is just such a shame that BM can't put the kids first and essentially let two children dictate the lives of all the adults in their lives.

Week three. Yeah, K doesn't look so hot. She makes a "joke" about how she's actually glad to come to work because it's more relaxing than being at home. Of course, she's just kidding. ha. Ha.
The kids are still great, though!!! Doing awesome!!! Except for the fact that BF son likes to put a mouthful of food intro his mouth and then spit out the parts he doesn't like onto the plate, even when K has made a meal that he specifically asked for. (K thinks this is "so funny"). Yes, it turns out BF son is a picky eater. He had a tantrum almost every meal all wknd long. Plus, K is super stressed because it turns out her BF is working next wknd so K will be with the kids all day long on her own (!!!!!) What is she going to cook?? She needs to come up with something extra delicious!!! Her googling for recipes is no longer for fun; instead it looks like she's clutching for a life preserver.

Also, K is now using "we" when discussing the schedule as in "WE" have them every wknd.

Honestly, I know it looks like I'm making light of it but it's really quite depressing to watch. This woman went from knowing what she wanted (no strings, nothing too intense) to being a nervous wreck in 3 weeks!! And I remember that feeling. In the very beginning, when the kids can do no wrong and it's you and your partner against the world. It just breaks my heart.

She knows that I lived with my ex and that he had 50/50 custody for the 6 years that we were together so she sometimes asks my advice on things. I honestly don't know what to say. She also knows that our break up was agonizing and heart-breaking and I worry that anything I do say is just going to be taken as sour grapes. Plus, I don't think we are close enough that I can be totally, brutally honest with her the way I would with some people.

What do you guys think?? I plan on telling her to maintain her boundaries as far as caring for the kids goes, but I'm not sure how much of a reality check I try to giver her. What do you guys wish someone had told you when you were just starting out???


hereiam's picture

Maybe she should read your post. Too bad you don't have "then" and "now" pictures of her.

I don't know, it's really sad that she doesn't see what's happening to her life and that she's letting it happen. She wasn't even serious with him and now she's watching his kids?

SM12's picture

Just be honest with her and ask her directly "Are you REALLY enjoying this?" "Are you really enjoying jumping through hoops to please these children?"
The truth is, she may actually HATE every second of it but he afraid to actually say that out loud for fear of looking like a monster.
If she has went from care-free to a stressed out mess in the short span of three weeks....she probably needs someone to tell her it is OK to hate this life.
She is not a bad person and she is OK for not really wanting to cater to spoiled children.
Just make her feel safe enough to vent to you and then you can give her the full facts of what step hell is like.

Oh Margie's picture

I know, that's exactly how I feel. Bless her heart, indeed. She's such a nice person, she just wants everyone to be happy.I remember so clearly how that feels.

This is good advice you guys, I think I will wait until we are alone and then I can test the waters and give her room to vent a bit without feeling like a monster.

awakening's picture

This makes me sick to my stomach as I remember how I used to feel, early on...when you really have no idea whats like, I'm deeply traumatized by my step hell experience, I look back and don't know where the woman I used to be is anymore...she is lost...I think about all the things I have lost, sacrificed, went the extra mile trying to do and for what??? Nothing! I don't wish this life upon any other woman, upon anyone actually. As I work on my exit plan I feel nothing but sadness, grief, resentment, desperation, I'm now suffering from depression, anxiety and all my health problems prior to step hell are many times worse. What I would like to have been told? The truth...from someone who had already gone through this, would I have listen? I don't know but at least early on when the signs were already all there I like to think I would think back at our conversation and go like wait a minute and remove myself immediately before getting stuck into it like now where an exit plan is necessary. Unfortunately no one had that conversation with me, no one did what I consider would have been an act of kindness and compassion towards another human being.

Elizamen's picture

I couldn't agree more, awakening.

I think the suggestions of letting her have a safe place to share her growing concerns/feelings is excellent. It's like when you're dealing with a victim of domestic violence, you let them know you are there for them when they are ready to take a step.

BethAnne's picture

I wish I had a step mom friend even when things are not too bad for me, but to have someone I can talk about life with who really gets it would be great. In the meantime I have ST! I am not sure how you should approach things. The only people I knew when I started dating my husband who had any sort of knowledge of these type of situations was a woman who I worked with who was a COD and also a mother and my sister would tell me somethings about her friend who was a step mom to teenagers and she told me some of the things that she found tough about the situation. Oh and my hairdresser who was a divorced BM who would tell me about how her ex husband refused to let her meet his new wife.

I have passed this website along to a couple of people in other online forums I use when I felt they could benefit from it. I would think carefully before passing it onto someone I know in real life as I like to keep some things relatively private.

I do not think that her relationship is necessarily doomed, it all depends how long it takes her to realize she does not need to play mom (or fun auntie) and if she learns how to set boundaries and how accepting her bf is and how willing he is to make compromises and changes to accommodate her in his life. I think that there is a steep learning curve for both partners in relationships where step kids are involved.

Oh Margie's picture

Thank you everyone for such great advice.
yeah, I think have to wait it out until she comes to me. Unfortunately, sometimes the advice we need the most is the advice we really don't want to hear. At least her BF doesn't sound like a complete dipshit, so when the time comes for her to put her foot down I'm hoping it won't blow everything out of the water.

As far as everyone at work agreeing with her about letting the skids stay with their dad, I honestly think they sincerely believe that the BM is being some kind of b*tch. They have No. Clue.

Maxwell09's picture

Anytime someone tells me they are dating someone with kids I tell them it's a terrible idea. I don't wait for them to ask but they never will before it's too late; I don't care if I don't "know" either. I almost my civic duty to save any and all steps from what I have todeal with/read what y'all deal with.