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en route to stepparenting and hating it

AnnaT's picture

Hi all - I'm hoping this is a gay/lesbian-friendly zone. Please forgive the length of this post, I'm in dire need of a vent.

I've been with my partner for 3 years, and we live apart (in walking distance). She has a 5 year old daughter for whom she is the sole caretaker. I am 42, childfree by choice, a returned graduate student, who has always valued freedom and flexibility and made those a priority.

Here's my problem, and I'd love any and all input. I think T's decision to have this kid was rash, crazy, and self-destructive. She was having a frankly tawdry affair with a married man she barely knew, was in her early 30s (bio-clock suddenly going), and she believed all his bullshit and thought - incredibly - they'd be together forever (very adolescent kind of thinking). Anyway, within a few months it all fell apart, and now he's in another country, has never even seen the kid, and she's on her own raising their kid.

So, a few things: has anyone here ever experienced contempt for their partner's previous choices? Has anyone been jealous that their partner made such a monumental decision with some horrifyingly and obviously terrible person, that they can never undo and that they can never do similar with their current partner? Did any of you childfree-by-choicers fund yourself questioning that choice when faced with having to participate in someone else's parenting? (Something along the lines of, I have to do this anyway, I may as well get something from it)?

More than that, though, have people encountered the social expectations, probably especially strong for women who partner with parents? The assumption - which I've heard more than once - that now YOU have a kid. The assumption that you're dying to take this on. The pearl-clutching about innocent children who "deserve" to be loved by everyone who comes near them. The hints that you are somehow "unnatural" if you don't believe this is somehow the fulfillment of a universal wish. Etc., etc.

And what I'm sitting over here thinking is, I want to sleep in with my partner sometimes. I want there to be enough money. I want - no matter what a douche the biodad was (and he was), she picked him regardless, in fact just HAD to have his baby - him on the scene to take the kid two days a week and provide some child support. I want all those things; it's dawning on me that not only am I never going to have them, but that by resenting their absence, I'm thwarting some pretty serious social expectations.

Anyone at all out there with similar feelings or experiences? Can a relationship like this work?

Disneyfan's picture

You CAN have all the things you want. You just can't have a thsm with this woman. If you're not happy with the way things are, move on.

tabby yabba do's picture

Welcome, and start reading. Your concerns and fears and frustrations are pretty common around here.

Even well-behaved and polite kids are annoying at times. I'm not sure if your partner's kid is that, or if she (the kid) is one of the indulged spoiled ones that mommy is trying to over-compensate for as a result of mommy's bad choices.

Either way, Disney is right about one thing (you CAN have all the things you want) and maybe right about another (that this isn't the partner you'll have it with).

Good luck, keep lurking/posting!

AnnaT's picture

Ahhhh, you guys are awesome already. Thanks for these responses. I understand the "move on" comments, and I'm thinking about it. But I'm sure I'm not alone in this dilemma: to walk away is giving up a lot, but so is staying.

Interesting that the other bioparent is the source of so much strain and resentment. In my mind, it's a beautiful fantasy, because having him around would mean the kid would just sometimes NOT BE THERE. I think that's the very hardest part for me; there are NO moments or days that are ours, ever. Ugh. And she's so little that I will be pushing 60 by the time she gets out of the house; if I stay, this is my entire middle age I'm looking at.

Badfairy, my partner is an ardent feminist and understands - intellectually - that loving some rando baby is not a reasonable expectation. She wants me to be cool with the kid, which I am. I think I do a great job with her, but as you rightly discern, it brings me no joy.

Anyway, thanks again and I look forward to joining in.

tiredstepmother's picture

If you never wanted to have children then don't go this route. If not for the sake of your partner. I always wanted children anyway I could get them. But, reality is, it is hard and harder with step children. I truly adore my bio children and because of many circumstances and lack of help from my SS mother, parenting him has been something I just tolerate. It is hard to tolerate something for so long. My next step is he goes to college and my responsibilities decrease. I stay because I adore and love my husband. Wish you well.

Orange County Ca's picture

I don't understand why you would willingly choose to be with two people that you almost despise? With Gay relationships notoriously unstable don't start off on a bad foot from the start. Find a woman who reflects your desires in life and has no "baggage".

AnnaT's picture

I adore my partner - hence the emotional conflict about despising some of her choices. I don't feel much for her kid. Don't know what kind of "data" you're looking at, but judging from these message boards, I don't think it's gay relationships that are notoriously unstable. Jesus, what a jacked up thing to say.

usedup1's picture

Your post was very honest in the feelings that alot of people think about but never say..

I like that you say it without any fear of the consequences!!!

The hardest part about falling in love with someone who has a small child full time, is you never got to experience the courtship phase alone!

Your conversations weren't just about you two, but about you three?
And the thoughts about life and your future was most likely on the BM terms? But you already loved this person and never thought you'd be feeling this way, while you were in the initial stages of your relationship?

If you were in a straight relationship as a women who chooses not to have kids, nobody questions...

But theres obviously a stigma attached to a woman in a gay relationship that better have those maternal instincts flowing...

I dont know why that is, but, when theres a child involved you will be judged for not showing the LOVE...

I feel its great that you are not hiding your feelings for fear of being judged as some sort of horrible woman..

But, just like any relationship this will reach a much deeper depth.. your feelings on this will become very apparent as the child gets older..

And you will then be judged on these issues instead of who you really are, which is a kind and loving person.

Your probably right! Just be

usedup1's picture

And please excuse the "your probably right just be" comment.

It wasn't supposed to be there!!!hahahaha

lorlors's picture

Hi annaT. I couldn't deal with my stepkids living with me full time. We have them 2 weekends in a row in June and I am not liking the thought as we usually have them every other weekend.You work hard all week, I just don't want to have no weekend or spare time to myself. Thing is, my SKs are good kids. Just seeing them can often remind me of how horrible their mother is to DH. The demanding, the harassment, the ordering, it's never ending. I guess it's more that the kids are representations of her that I hate the most. Sometimes, I describe it as being haunted by her, just waiting for the next time she goes crazy, the next aggressive email and phone call. It's never stops. I agree with the poster above- at least you don't have to deal with a bitter and twisted ex but then, as I said I couldn't live with the kids FT like you do.

Every SM on this site has it shit in one way or another.......

Best of luck. You will need it. Xx

Pilgrim Soul's picture

Hello and welcome! Make yourself at home... Interesting post... I am not childfree - i am actually pretty child-busy with two teens, and i have never had to live with my skids... but i may have a peculiar vantage point into gay step-parenting bc DH's ex is now gay and living with a GF of several years (they may be already married, not sure).

So here's how it goes in BM's household: BM has 3 kids, 18-25. Her GF has none. BM hand-picked the partner who would be TOTALLY (as in *totalitarian* state) devoted to her AND her kids. Narcissists have a way of charming the socks off of people, of presenting themselves as larger than life and grander than grand... so the GF must have fallen hook, like and sinker. On some very deep level she must understand what her role is and was always meant to be, and she plays it to perfection: her role is to worship. She is the Worshipper-in-Chief. She worhips BM, and she uber--worships the skids. As in, spends ALL her money on them, buys them cars, takes out college loans, is ready to sell her soul to the devil for them - provided she has a soul.

She is codependent and her status in the family depends on keeping BM with her brood on the pedestal. When DH and I started having words with skids, who were behaving in ways that were both extremely cruel, disrespectful of us and very obnoxious, the GF wrote a letter to skids that BM forwarded to us saying, "This is what REAL parenting and step-pareting is all about!!! Read and weep!"

The GF's letter went like this, "Dearest Skids, please do not listen to your dad and Pilgrim Soul. You are the greatest, sweetest, loveliest darlings! I have never met anyone as wonderful as you! Your dad and Pilgrim Soul do not know what they are talking about."

I might add that she is a recovering alcoholic, who seems to have found a new addiction: to being seen as one of them. The price of admission to that club is simple: licking their boots and asses on demand. Mission accomplished many times over.

So this is just one scenario of how it might work. If you allow your personality to be subsumed by the existing family system you are trying to enter, you might make it work. Why you would want to is another matter...

Some people find kids more amusing... some childless people have zero interest in kids. I was like that before i had mine... and even now to a degree. Nothing wrong with that. But why don't you find a child-free partner then? Less aggravation for all those concerned in the long run.

2Tired4Drama's picture

"To thine own self be true."

You love freedom and flexibility, and that is contrary to being involved in a relationship which requires raising children.

Resentment is not an emotion which dissipates easily; in fact, it often grows deeper with time. This woman has this child, and that is never going to change. The challenges she faces - financial, lack of other parental support, etc. won't change either. However, the longer you are around the more she may begin to place some of those expectations on you - maybe that's started already, hence your resentment.

The truth is this situation will never change - your partner will always be a mother. First and foremost. And it will not "stop" when the kid is 18 - just read the adult stepkids forum to see what it's like!

The truth of the matter is no matter what societal expectations are, if you are not the bio mother of children you will never stack up. Never. No matter what you do. As Pilgrim Soul notes, in some cases the person will totally subsume their entire life just to worship at the altar of their beloved.

I think there is more to life for you than that, don't you? I would gradually pull away from this situation, which is easier since you don't live together. Disengage from involvement with the kid as much as possible - go out on dates alone, etc. If that's not easily done, well you already have an idea of what the future is then, don't you? All you need ask is if this is the life you want to live. We all only get one shot on this ride of life - do you want yours to be a merry go round heading nowhere, or filled with possibilities of the things you love - freedom and flexibility?

AnnaT's picture

Again, I'm so grateful for all the input, empathy, thoughtfulness, and stories here. What a great site - wish I'd found it about two years ago. Pilgrim Soul, that is a hair-raising story, and the GF of BM sounds like she has some serious problems. Even more troublingly, she's probably getting lots of social support for playing the Pseudo-Mom card so thoroughly.

2Tired, you're right - nothing is going to change. I've been guilty of a lot of magical thinking over the last few years, and now that I'm finally starting to face reality (to be fair, my partner came in with all kinds of fairy tales about biodad somehow having a role, despite his imprisonment (!) in another country (!!)) and understand the utter, immutable permanence of her circumstances, my real feelings are starting to surface.

That seems like a good thing, but I don't know where it's going to take me yet. We set out on different paths, that's for sure, and I don't think hers has been a good one even for her. But I also wonder whether, in one's 40s as I am, one is going to find people who have remained as relatively unencumbered as I have...or if that is/should still be my own value system. Is there value to be had here, in this patchwork family? I don't know yet.

Maybe, if I maintain an adequate degree of freedom.

And good god, the kid is 5 - I don't dare read the adult stepkids forum! *shudders*

Pilgrim Soul's picture

Hi AnnaT, you know what came to mind as I was reading your response? You have a such a lovely way with words... see the "utter, immutable permanence of her circumstances"... may be you could approach the trials and tribulations of being with someone who is raising a child as a gold mine for a blog? Or a book? You have been presented with a rich source of material. Writing is a great way to "deal" and may be a bridge to less-magical thinking but more-magical processing of your hard-to-define role, your own orbit around that kid's life. You do not need to become a Pseudo-Mom but you could mine the circumstances for a comic/tragic or a bit-of-both effect.

You certainly have the skills for that. I would love to read your blog is you ever decide to write one.

AnnaT's picture

Pilgrim Soul, that is enormously flattering, and food for thought. It might help. I'll keep you posted...and thank you.

2Tired4Drama's picture

AnnaT, I actually think it might be EASIER to meet others at this stage of your life who are more compatible. Maybe even those who are parents but whose children have already successfully "launched" into healthy, self-supporting young adults, and the parent will then have a lot more freedom and flexibility - including financial.

I guess it boils down to finding the right person, at the right time, for the right reasons. Maybe this relationship just isn't destined to be the "right" one for you, and certainly not with a long, challenging road to adulthood for the kid in the future.

Calypso1977's picture

well, some positives here.

1. you dont have a crazy BM/BD to deal with. Yes, that means your partner has the child full time but at least she has the freedom to just raise her and make the decisions she sees fitwithout having to consult someone else, argue over holidays, etc.

2. you have your own place. Keep it.

3. you dont appear to mention any behavioral issues. that's huge and hopefully that can last!!

I too am childless by choice (im 37). i definitely resent my fiance's decision to have a child with a complete moronic nutcase. what makes it even worse is that tehy were married 8 years and werent super duper happy and in love when they had my SD13. they had her just because "that's what you do" and BM knew it was her ticket to never working again, at least FT.

AnnaT's picture

It's rough stuff, for sure. Saffron, "dwarf clothes" made me laugh. I also hate the expectation that because I'm a woman, I cannot wait to SEE YOUR BABY. I can wait! It's cool!

Since my partner is so immensely interesting to me, my hope is that the kid will grow less annoying as she gets older. Certainly I await the day she'll sleep over at someone's house, and her mother and I will have a morning to ourselves. Unfortunately, while the grandparents are very loving (and quite young), they have a strange, unacknowledged punitive impulse toward my partner, and aren't all that open to taking the kid for any real period of time. I think it stems from their profound disapproval of how this came to me, and a very deep Midwestern attitude, ie, you made your bed, etc.

My own mother used to keep my niece for 2 months each summer - now that's the dream!

Calypso, no real behavior problems, she's an ordinary, healthy kid, which is good. I can see why having the other parent out of the picture can also be construed as a positive, though good lord, I wish he'd show his sorry ass and take her for a week or two.

Cheers to all. Venting here has helped already.

Calypso1977's picture

"Unfortunately, while the grandparents are very loving (and quite young), they have a strange, unacknowledged punitive impulse toward my partner, and aren't all that open to taking the kid for any real period of time. I think it stems from their profound disapproval of how this came to me, and a very deep Midwestern attitude, ie, you made your bed, etc."

sad....regardless of how this child came to be, its their granchild...their blood.