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I have to brag!

Courty_C's picture

So, I know there is a lot of negativity on this site, and a lot of vented frustrations at the struggles of blended families, but I just wanted to take a minute to brag on some small victories I have had in the last few weeks regarding my boyfriend and his two sons. My boyfriend has 2 sons, 8 and 11, and they live with him full time. The BM is out of state, and while she stays in contact daily with the kids, she sees them maybe 10 weeks out of a year, mostly during the summer. 

My boyfriend and I have been together about a year, minus a brief separation due to my grieving over a miscarraige. I adore his sons, and they seem to like me a lot too! BM is less than thrilled with me, claiming my age (13 years younger than my BF) is a problem, my involvement with HER sons is too much, I cross boundaries or take too much liberties with the kids.... whatever it is, she is not my biggest fan. However, my boyfriend has really been stepping up and making her aware I am around for good, and I will continue to be in all of their lives no matter what, so she either needed to get on board or get lost. 

The past month since the kids came back from their summer with their mom, I have really worked on developing closer relationships with each of the boys, being intentional with the time I spend with them, together and individually. Wednesday nights, I stay with the youngest (SS8) while his brother and my boyfriend go to a martial arts class. The youngest has to sit out from all sports for now, due to a broken leg. So, I stay with him Wednesdays, and we typically make dinner together! He loves being in the kitchen, loves getting to help cook. Last night, he asked me to help him study for some tests he has coming up. So we went over his study guides in a couple of subjects, we made dinner, and we played Fortnite (of course!) together. I really enjoy my time with him one on one, and love that he is willing to let me help him with homework, love that he volunteers to assist me with dinner, and is generally a pleasant, rambuctious 8 year old that will talk my ear off! 

Since wanting to develop and improve my relationships with both boys, the oldest is currently signed up to play soccer through a rec league. When the roster for his team was emailed, it stated there was no coach, and they were looking for someone to volunteer. My BF and I  waited a week or so to see if anyone would come forward, but no one volunteered. We discussed it with each other, and then with SS11, and asked him how he would feel about me stepping in to coach, seeing as I played soccer for about 10 years growing up. My BF will be there assisting/herding preteen boys into listening... but I will ultimately be the coach. SS11 was SUPER stoked... excited he would get to have us as coaches, and excited to learn more about the sport, as he and I have practiced/scrimmaged around before, so he knows I can play pretty well LOL. His coach last year was less than stellar... so he is now super excited that Dad and I will be doing it. 

Both kids have not shied away from interactions, and both seem to genuinely enjoy spending time with me, with or without their dad present. I make it a point to not discipline, but rather reinforce Dad's rules and expectations, and make suggestions that Ifeel would be beneficial, such as "Dont you think your dad would like you to have your laundry put up before he gets home?" or "Your dad asked you to make your lunch while he is at the store, so we better hop to it!" It seems to really go over well, because I am not lording over them, or doling out punishments. If either are disrespectful, I simply disengage, and talk to my BF privately, then he decides what should be done, and almost always both kids will apologize before anything else needs to happen. I know I am extremely blessed with great kids for potential step sons, and I genuinely think we could have a happy life together, all four of us. 

BM has always been a bit of a wild card, as she changes her allegiences and opinions on a whim, and will tell my BF one thing and the kids something entirely different. She recently told the kids they shouldnt like me and shouldnt enjoy having me around, because I was taking away time with their dad.... Only to send a text to my BF a couple nights ago, in response to his informing (NOT asking, as the only people that mattered were all on board... didnt need her permission whatsoever) her I would be coaching SS11's soccer team. Her text basically sang my praises, saying how I have always stepped up and stepped in for her boys, and she thought I was a great addition to their lives, and how my BF and her should get me a nice coaching gift to show how appreciative they were for me supporting their kids. And that I had earned the right to be in all of their lives, she would do whatever she could to nurture and support their relationships with me, and that untless I did something drastically out of character, she thought I was a great influence, and did a great job of recognizing and trying to avoid crossing boundaries. It was a jaw dropper... Like, this is the same woman who basically pissed on her territory the last time I saw her in person. And the person who I have heard with my own ears downtalking me.... I seriously have no idea what her angle is now... its a little unsettling, but overall, I guess it's possible she realizes my BF and I are creating a happy, healthy, safe environment, and raising two little men to be gentlemen. What more could a mom want in this situation? I care about her kids, I consider their well being in everything. I have tempered my relationship with their father based on their needs at any given time. It is just puzzling why she is playing nice for now. My BF just shrugged it off, as she also mentioned in her message that she wished she could do more, and be closer, but that she was glad he had found and picked someone that cared so much about their kids, but didnt try to replace her just because she wasnt closer. 

I just wanted to brag that Step-Kids can be great kiddos, even when it isnt a life they would have chosen for themselves. I am not saying we dont have our share of tears, hurt feelings, miscommunication, etc.... only that overall, there is a way to have a happy, healthy, fulfilling life with a partner who has kids! Find a partner who loves and supports you FOR YOU, not for what you can provide them, or NOT what you can do for their kids. Find someone who simply enjoys a life with you in it, no matter what you can or cant give, and the rest will work itself out. While my BF and I are not married, and do not *officially * live together, I am there daily, and spend almost every night there, so I gladly contribute to chores, wash clothes, cook dinners, mop/vacuum when needed... but only when I offer or feel like it. It is never assumed or expected of me to do those things. I think a mistake a lot of people make are unitentionally undermining the BioParent, especially when dating BioDads. When women come in and begin to take over the bulk of household obligations, especially concerning children, biodads often feel like we are insinuating they are incapable of caring for their own children. My partner is one of the most capable, loving fathers I have ever seen. He loves his kids, makes sure they KNOW they are a priority to him, stays involved and connected, even reads to both boys every night (it is really special to watch, and something I have always allowed to be just "their" thing), they both pile up in the bed with him, and he reads 30-45 minutes, then tucks each kid in - both kids still firmly and thoroughly insist upon it, even the 11 year old. I think it is some sense of normalcy they cling to, and it encourages me to strive for creating an even more stable and consistent environment for them.

I hope some of you StepMoms/girlfriends/boyfriends out there find some encouragement in this. Everyday is not amazing, but something amazing happens everyday, in some way or another. Take time to appreciate the small victories, as they make the tough days more bearable, in my experience! 

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I almost stepped in to coach T-ball last year fro SD5. I was pretty sure Psycho would have had a heart attack and flipped s*** and made it miserable for everyone. I was an ASSISTANT coach the year before and she's rip SD5 away for no reason other than she wanted to, because she's crazy (personally opinion on that last part).

But hey, I'd keep an eye on things, but that's great that you're getting encouragement!!! And that you're being supported!!!

Courty_C's picture

I think it probably is a bit easier for me, given BM lives over 3,000 miles away, and visits seldom. I have no idea what kind of toes I would be stepping on if she were an available option to do ANY of what I do for those kids... I think she is a loving mother, who decided she didn't want to be married and strapped with kids anymore, picked up her life and started over elsewhere, living the single life, only being a mom when it is convienent or fits into her schedule.. She supposed to facetime the kids every night at 8:30 our time, but I have lost count of the number of times the kids will text and ask when they are going to talk, and she says "oh I am at this concert" or "oh i have friends over right now" or some other bullsh*t excuse that the oldest never buys. Your kids have been looking forward to talking to you all day, and you blow them off.... and yet if the kids have prior obligations that delay their convo (WE never cancel, always find some way/some time for them to call her, even if it means them staying up past their bedtimes to have that time with her... or facetiming from the car while on trips... SOMEHOW we make sure they are available) they are guilt-tripped majorly, scolded for "pushing off dear old mom" and "having things more important than the woman who gave you life" ... grin and bear it and grit my teeth.... my mantra concerning her... because it could be so much worse... especially if she lived close and they had a 50/50 custody arrangement, showed up at all the events, etc. I am grateful for her distance... even though I wish the kids had their mom around more, for their sakes.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Ours ditched for a year and ditched months to weeks before. Now she sees them because GBM sends her money for it and her sister makes sure it happens...

She wouldn't do anything I do regardless. She has them four days a month now, and she's not even home the majority of that. 

IMHO, anyone who can just walk away from the kids and act like they don't have them unless convenient is not a loving mother.

ndc's picture

I'm glad to hear it's going well for you.  It's encouraging to hear positive stories.  My situation is pretty good - SO's kids are accepting of me and for the most part decently behaved.  BM is sane.  SO is probably the weakest link, LOL, and he's still worth keeping around.  There are times, though, when I just wait for the other shoe to drop because I've heard such horror stories.

ldvilen's picture

I'm confused by this?  Kudos to you!!  However, on the other hand your situation seems very different from most SMs here--you basically have an absentee BM, for one thing, and you are not married and do not *officially * live together.  Although I agree that SMs come in many shapes and colors, so to speak, this is probably not on the norm of any bell-shaped curve.  And, you've only been together one year!

I think for most of us, if we got a text from BM basically "saying how I have always stepped up and stepped in for her boys, and she thought I was a great addition to their lives," none of us would be here.  You also have a supportive DH, and that is fantastic, because that is what it at least takes to become a success in your SKs lives.  It is not anywhere near SM's and SKs' input that matters as much as it is DH and BM.

And, this could very well be true for you, and I hope it is:  "I know I am extremely blessed with great kids for potential step sons, and I genuinely think we could have a happy life together, all four of us."  Again, you have a supportive DH and, it sounds like, BM, so I'm sure you have no problem singing this praise, "Overall, there is a way to have a happy, healthy, fulfilling life with a partner who has kids! Find a partner who loves and supports you FOR YOU, not for what you can provide them, or NOT what you can do for their kids."

This, however, is totally inappropriate advise coming from someone who isn't really a SM, per se, and has only been in it for one year, AND is dealing with non-teen children, "I think a mistake a lot of people make are unitentionally undermining the BioParent, especially when dating BioDads. When women come in and begin to take over the bulk of household obligations, especially concerning children, biodads often feel like we are insinuating they are incapable of caring for their own children."  This is the sterotype--that somehow all SM problems are due to her overstepping her role and if she would just stay out of DH's and BM's business, and continually put her needs last, all would be sunshine and rainbows.  

It may be for you, I don't know.  I know having both a supportive DH and BM helps quadruple.  I also know you love these boys and already see them as your own.  However, keep in mind that once you are actually married, living together, a real SM, the boys become older, BM moves back in town or wants more visitation or even proper custody, things could (and probably will change).  Some things may change for the better and some things for the worse.  BUT, do not come here and try to act like you have it all figured out after only one year in.  I'm sure like me, many of the other SMs here thought they had it made after a year or so too, because fermenting problems and issues hadn't risen or shown their face yet.  If anyone knows how much truth there is in the saying "Blood is thicker than water," it is a tenured SM.  That's all I'll say, other than so sorry to hear about your miscarriage.  I'm so glad you have support and seem like you're healing.  And, by the way, we all already, "Take time to appreciate the small victories, as they make the tough days more bearable, in my experience!"  It is just that they may not always involve steps.

Courty_C's picture

I full agree and admit that it is very different when BM lives so far away and doesn't play a day to day role in the kids' lives. I in no way want to perpetuate that I have it all figured out. Not in the least! In fact, in another post, I mention more struggles with BM being manipulative and cruel and lying/interfering often... Receiving the supportive text was actually extremely out of character for her usual antics, and I still am convinced there is an angle at play. She has never had anything nice to say previously. 

I will also say, my boyfriend has not always been supportive like he is now. Everything I say is only from personal experience, so I know that he initially took offense to my cleaning the kitchen and cooking, folding laundry...because he did in fact assume I was calling him incapable of managing a household and two kids on his own. He did not have full custody of the kids when we began dating, but was in the process of petitioning for them to live with him. They worked it out amongst themselves, with him finally convincing the BM that he was the more stable parent and both kids begged and begged to come back home and live with him. Because of the drastic life change that took place when the kids came home for good, it was easy to mold into pitching in and playing a very active part in the transition.. from school drop off, to managing schedules, etc. It is my natural inclination to control all situations. I didn't see it as controlling, but rather trying to make the transition as smooth as possible for my partner. He was overwhelmed, to say the least, and fearful the kids could wake up one day and ask to go back to their mom, that he would be somehow lacking and they would see that and want to leave. My actions perpetuated that fear in him, and because we were not great at communicating those types of things initially, he allowed it to fester between us, and he harbored resentment towards me, assuming the worst. Where I just wanted to help him because I cared about him, he continued feeling I was pointing out all his shortcomings, but never stated as much. I grew to resent him for his resentments, as here I am trying to do nice things, trying to help with the kids, and then feeling shit on because he wasnt glad I had done those things. 

I only mean to say, that every relationship , regardless of length, will have issues that need worked out. Some more than others. Some have harder hurdles to jump over. I in no way want to imply that life will always be sunshine and daisies, and I realize it may seem like an extremely short amount of time to be calling everything a success/have it figured out. I don't! I have struggles, I have challenges. I screw up, he screws up... we say things we don't mean... but at the end of the day, it should be about trying to learn and love the other person, warts and all. Acceptance. Knowing your partner has your back, and if they don't, figuring out constructive ways to work through the issues, to build something together, rather than tear things down in frustration. I was extremely frustrated with my boyfriend a few nights ago, as I felt he wasnt taking my feelings and concerns into consideration like he should. But I talked it out with him, and he remained receptive to hear what I had to say. In the past, he would have shut down and pushed me away, not let me in, not tried to understand where I was coming from. Regardless of situations or circumstances, the goal should always be to continue growing together, not settling for less than you deserve, striving for relationships that make you happy and bring positivity to your life. If that isn't what you are working on or working towards, what are you doing? I may have only been with this man a year, but in a year, we have gained two sons around full time now, lost a baby, gone through depression, been through a DUI court hearing, endured controversies, crazy exes, jealous BM, had SS8 break three fingers, only to break his leg two months later, struggled through making arrangements and adjustments due to the broken leg, worked through SS11 anger and lashing out/setting things on fire..... so no. Things have not been sunshine and daisies and never had a cloud in my sky. We struggle, suffer, bicker, fight, have bad days... I am human. I just try to look at things from all perspectives, and share positivity and promote encouragement when and where I can. I accept you don't see me as a real SM, and I don't claim to be a SM. I call my boyfriend's sons SS on this site for ease of understanding and respect for the anonymity of all involved. They do not call me mom or refer to me as their stepmom, they simply call me by my first name. I do not call them sons, the closest I get to that is playfully referring to them all as "my guys" ... but I don't call them my kids, respect that I am not that to them, yet. I do live with them, even though I have not changed my address or moved all of my belongings in. Mostly because my BF is in the process of selling the house they live in now, and it would be pointless to move only to move again. However, my clothes are in his closet, my car has a spot in the garage, I have keys, a garage door opener, I spend every night there, I have toiletries in the shower, a toothbrush in the bathroom.... For all intents and purposes, I have not spent a day away from them in months. I have a house of my own as a safe place to land if ever needed, I pay my bills currently, and do not contribute to the household bills of his place. But I buy groceries/necessities as needed... So you may assume we aren't serious because we don't live together, and I don't wear his ring. But we have every intention of spending our lives together, and I feel entitled to seeing his kids as a major part of my life, because they are. You don't spend everyday with people and not develop attachments and feelings towards them - good or bad! 

I hope you take my comments and my OP for nothing more than good intentions, and know I only speak to things I have experienced and know. In no way do I want to discount others due to their frustrations or troubles. Simply bragging about my guys, and how sweet they have been lately. ALL my guys!

Step-girlfriend's picture

You didn't really just pull the "but you're not really a SM" thing, did you? I have heard of this happening, but haven't had it happen to me...whether you think she doesn't have enough time in, etc....I don't think she deserves that line.

Mrs Fireball's picture

I' didn't get that vibe. She's pointing out that OP has only been doing this for a year.

Lots of us thought it was all peachy a year into it. And then it went south. 

ldvilen's picture

The OP isn't, in her own words, officially living with the guy!  Are GFs who have only been dating a man with children for a year now qualified as SMs?  I don't think so.  At present, the mainstream definition of a SM is: "The wife of one's parent when distinct from one's natural or legal mother. the wife of one's parent when distinct from one's natural or legal mother."  If you go by the Urban Dictionary, it is: "Any woman in a relationship (usually marriage) with a man having one or more children from his last partnership."  Or, the second definition under Urban Dictionary states, "An evil being whose sole purpose is to make her step childrens' lives as miserable and unenjoyable as possible until the child can't take it anymore and moves out, leaving the step mom with the house, the car, and the finantial stability. She is also seen as 'sweet' and 'caring' by people who do not know her personally."

I prefer the mainstream definition, myself.  My #1 point in fighting many of these SM stereotypes is that a SM at least deserves respect as dad's spouse or long-term SO.  Now, I know what qualifies as "long-term" is debatable.  But the term "wife" is not debatable, although some certainly try to make it so.  If a woman wants to hook up with a man, move in, take care of his children and so on, being solely a live-in, that is her choice.  But, for many, it does diminish the strong argument that a SM deserves respect first and foremost because she is dad's wife, now legally his partner for life, and the only way that partnership can be dissolved is through divorce.

And, you don't have to worry about what me nor any other SM thinks in reference to a particular SM not "really" being one, as there are a plethora of non-SMs out there who will feel that way.  Just becase they aren't annoucing it, it doesn't mean they ain't thinking it.

Rags's picture

Congratulations to you, your SO and the boys.  Your experiences are a testament to why fully engaging effectively as equity life partners and equity parents in a blended family relationship can return happy results.

As for BM.  If it looks like a dog, smell is like a dog, scratches like a dog and barks like a dog it’s a dog and all it  likely will ever be is a dog. BM at the heart of her character is a toxic manipulative hag.  Never forget that.  If you do, when you least expect it, her true characterless self will raise it’s ugly head.

I too am a an SP without  BKs.  I raised SS-26 as my own from when his mom and I started dating when he was 15mos old.  We married the week before he turned 2.  It has been incredible.  The three of us were the three musketeers and are extremely close to this day.

His mom and I battled his toothless moron toxic manipulative SpermClan his entire childhood to protect his best interests and kept him fully informed of the facts in an age appropriate manner in order to prepare him to protect himself from their crap while on visitation and into adulthood.

Good luck.