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