Jealous of SD I've never met
My BF and I have been together for 2 years. From the very beginning we agreed on a LAT lifestyle (living apart together). He had been separated (never married) for 6 years and had established his own routine with his now 11 year old daughter and I was going through a very complicated divorce and still am with 3 young children. We live an hour away from each other and when we aren't together, we are 100 percent in our daily routines with our kids. For us, living together at this point in our lives would not work and would bring unnecessary tension to our relationship. We have a very close relationship and keep in contact through FaceTime, texting, phone calls when we are with our kids and the other half of the time we are together.
Where we differ in our boundaries is how to involve our families. Before he met me, he dated around a lot with women he knew he would never be serious with. I'm the first relationship since his daughter's mother that he envisions a future with and we do talk about the future and living together when the kids are gone. His breakup was really difficult and his parents invested a lot into helping the couple renovate their new house and taking care of their granddaughter. When the separation happened suddenly (his partner suddenly took off with his daughter when she was 2), he vowed that he would do everything possible to protect his daughter and his family from any hurtful situations in the future. So, for nearly 9 years now, he's kept his family on one side and kind of gotten into a routine with them without bringing anyone new into the picture and kept his dating life on the other side, not mixing them. Although they "know" of my existence (without really knowing), he feels strongly that it is up to his daughter and his parents to tell him when and if they are ready for another person to be present and out of respect for them and for my children, it is not up to us to impose our relationship on them. I did get her a Christmas gift and she absolutely loved it. She "knew" it was from me but it didn't go any further and she didn't ask for it to go any further. Honestly, she's gotten so used to it just being her dad, that I don't think she'd be very welcoming to another female in her dad's life and she likes it just like it is!
I come from a completely different background. My parents were divorced and I grew up with stepparents, my grandparents up the street, and so many positive influences in my life. While I'm the first person to push the LAT lifestyle, I also think that there is a way to connect our children and our families without having them become a part of our daily routines nor imposing it on them, which neither of us want. I also have an added complication in that I'm living in a foreign country and have been here for 15 years. Although my family is not very close knit now, I do miss having them close by so that my kids can see their cousins and grandparents. In fact, it's mostly just me and my kids when they are with me. They do have their dad's family and all their cousins on his side, but I do think it would be nice for them to have other kids in their lives, and I know they are open to that. I did a big Thanksgiving feast with American couples and their kids and they had such a great time. My boyfriend didn't come because it's part of our arrangement: no mixing the kids into our relationship. But, I know his daughter would have had a great time. Also for NYEve, he was alone with his daughter and I was alone with my kids: From the way I was raised, it would have been perfectly normal for us to spend that evening together. And, in my eyes, it is possible to do things like that once every 6 months, without getting our kids and families involved on a routine basis, which might create tensions. For my boyfriend, however, it's unfathomable. His life and his routine are so anchored in his routine with just his daughter and his parents that he is mentally incapable of changing that at this point in his life.
My problem is that I find myself uncontrollably jealous of his daughter on several levels. The first is that she reminds me a lot of myself when I was a kid: into art, music, theatre, reading etc.... She asks her dad to take her to museums and classical music concerts. I have always wanted to do the same with my kids, but my kids are the complete opposite of that and they hate all of that! I guess she's the daughter I always thought my kids would be! When I was a kid, my grandparents made me feel special and I had a very close relationship to them, even though I was one of 4 siblings. I see her as an only child and her relationship to her grandparents and the special relationship she has with her dad and I'm sad that my kids have no one to make them feel special as I had when I was a child and that as a single mom to 3 kids, I can't form that same bond with each one that my boyfriend is able to form with his daughter. I'm also jealous of my boyfriend's life. He has it all: a family, his role as a dad which he absolutely adores, a wonderful love life. I have a wonderful love life, but as many mothers (both single and married), I can't say that I'm head over heels in my role as a mother. I adore my kids, but it's not always rainbows and pretty colors: it's also a lot of work! I did want children, but I always thought I'd be more fit to have only one child. I feel like I can't give my kids the time my boyfriend gives to his daughter and I'm jealous that she has that. Having kids of different ages means that I can't always do activities that I would like with my kids. And perhaps, somewhere, I'm jealous that she has the dad that I never had and that my kids will never have.
He has stopped telling me when he takes his daughter to his parents' or when they go to concerts or museum visits because he knows it pushes a jealousy button in me. I also think his daughter is the way she is because she is only surrounded by people who make her feel special and cultivate her talents and interests. She plays the harp and now she's going to join the conservatory because she has a very unique voice. Her dad is head over heels proud of her. Then I feel bad for not exposing my kids to more, for not enrolling them in more, for cultivating their talents more. They do their activities, but they don't really have any specific aptitudes.
My grandparents did that for me. But, my kids just don't have that. I simply can't do that being a single mother with no family here. Once a year my ex and I arrange to have each of our kids alone and my middle child and I do an art class together each week, but it's not the same. My kids spend more time together as siblings than I can give them one on one time and I regret that.
I guess I'm just looking for a way to get rid of these jealous feelings and to see how lucky I am with the situation I've been given and to look on the brighter side of things. Any advice would be great!