Afraid to Admit it
For those of you willing to read this all the way through, it may take some time.
Long story long, my husband and I met in 2016. When we had started dating I had a lot of red flags about his ex-wife. His ex-wife had a key to his house, would do laundry on week days there, and talked intimately with him often (on a platonic level, nothing sexual, but enough to raise an eyebrow). To get rid of my insecurities at the time I proposed that we meet for coffee and get to know one another. During our conversation she would make comments that were questionable, such as wanting to co-parent but also wanting to take their son to the park together (alone). Better yet, she proposed alternating holidays where he would join her family, like it was split custody. In response, I said that we could do things together as a group to help establish rapport. Though these weird signals, and red flags, ended up being completely validated. As it turns out, my (now) husband was still married to his "ex wife". They were separated so that they could pursue their own interests and she could stay on his insurance. Needless to say that super awkward coffee date made me feel resentment towards her, like she had played me for a fool, until the truth came out. I'm not saying my husband had no part to play in it, and they divorced soon after (which ended amicably). This post is not about that one scenario, but many others that would soon follow. My husband and I have healed together through out the last four (almost five) years, but I never got the closure with her.
Fast forward to today and we're a well balanced family that has its ups and downs like everyone else. About 2 weeks ago I sent her a letter congratulating her own her marriage (which was 8 months after ours) and told her that I wanted to start fresh. Drop off and pick up between us has always been incomfortable. I'd either avoid her completely, and visa versa, or not acknowledge her like I should have at times. It was my way of avoiding the pain and re-traumatizing myself. I even scheduled my first counseling appointment in years to talk about my trust issues (an ongoing battle, not just related to this relationship) so that I could hopefully find some peace.
The problem now is that, despite our past, our parenting styles are vastly different. She's more laid back (almost to a fault) where I'm more structured. I thrive on routines due to my background as a teacher and social worker, whereas he seems to waste away at her house in front of a screen or electronic devise. We both work from home and I set up a summer schedule due to the disruption in their education and the pandemic. He's mostly unattended to on her time. We couldn't be more night and day, and I respect that everyone is different, but there's no happy medium and it's starting to affect my son negatively. To clarify, his mom has a history of not prioritizing him. She's prioritized unhealthy relationships, and even her current marriage, over him. She loves being doted on.
What it boils down to is that she doesn't seem to be putting in the effort. My son was in tears when he was dropped off and she said "He wasn't ready to come back". Not the greatest statement to hear. But after talking with him it turns out he feels like he doesn't have enough time with her (even with a 50/50 schedule) and it doesn't help that she no longer engages with him like she used to. So we had a chat. I explained that he misses her and would like to spend more time with her in the evenings (his words) but he has a hard time communicating it. I've worked with my son since day one on emotional regulation and communication. He was severely underdeveloped in this area and at least dad recognizes it. She seemed receptive, but that's her MO. Too agreeable but with no change, and no difference in outcome. Just same shit, different day. And I'm TIRED. I have a child of my own with her own set of needs, and I'm resentful that mom isn't pulling her weight. When my husband talked to her later that day she said "We're not that strict", when all we proposed was some consistency (limited screen time, quality family time, reasonable bed times) so that the transition between the two homes was less difficult for him.
So I'm at a loss. I know you can't teach a dog new tricks, but her laziness is triggering. She takes advantage of other people's efforts (my son has made leaps and bounds in his social and emotional development since we met) but she doesn't contribute much. She's always focused on her best interests without looking at the bigger picture, hence, our super weird coffee date in the beginning. But even now, I feel I'm carrying her weight and it's frustrating. Our past doesn't help, and any advice is greatly appreciated.
A tired mom,