For the past few months, every time I go see my boyfriend on Wednesday nights (he has his kid on that day, and I don’t have mine), it’s been awkward.
A few weeks ago, his ex-wife called him, telling him she was coming to get their child because I was always there and if he wasn’t going to spend time with her, she might as well be with her mother.
In a calm tone he told her that yes, I was there, and the three of us were going to eat together and watch a movie or something.
That’s just an example of what’s been happening lately, which has been a twist. At the first sign of this shift, when the honeymoon was over and the newness of getting to know me had worn off for his daughter, I felt like perhaps I should leave and not come over there when she was there.
I could tell her mother was having trouble with the fact her father was now in a long-term, serious relationship.
Having a daughter of my own, and being a daughter of divorce myself, I understand how this goes: She feels the need to be loyal to her mother. If her mother is upset about me, then so is she. I feel like a stranger coming into her world that maybe she wasn’t quite ready for. And I get it.
Of course, I wanted to grab the phone and tell her to shut her face because I wasn’t there all the time — seeing her child once a week is hardly “all the time.” But that is my ego talking, and I know it would serve nobody for me to feel like I have to get in between this. So I don’t.
Not to mention it’s my boyfriend’s job to handle it, not mine.
He explained when his daughter was with him, I’d be there once a week or so. He also tells them both that I love his daughter, I have the best intentions for her, and I am not trying — in any way — to be any sort of a parent to her. I have kids of my own that keep me extremely busy, and honestly, I don’t want any more children to keep track of.
I know in the depths of my soul that I’ve let her know I’m there for her without being pushy. I’m polite but not aggressive when talking to her. If she wants to stay up in her room and not come down and say hello to me when I’m there, that’s okay. It has nothing to do with me.
Of course I wish things were different and that I didn’t have to wonder how tense it was going to be when I saw her, if she wanted to spend time with me or not, or if my boyfriend was going to get a phone call from his ex-wife because their daughter sent her a text letting her know I was there.
It’s clear when her mother talks about me it’s very negative, and she feels I shouldn’t be spending time in the home that used to be hers. I get that too.
But it’s okay; I’m okay with it, because I know it’s really not about me. I am more than happy to have my boyfriend’s daughter’s company when she feels like giving it to me, but it’s up to her, and it needs to be on her terms, not mine.
I also think when she’s struggling with the fact her father has a girlfriend (which is very sporadic), her mother wants to come to her defense — and the only way to do that is to come get her and spend time with her.
I understand because my own daughter has come to me many times about something that’s happened between her and my ex-husband’s girlfriend. My daughter wants to stew and say mean things about her dad’s partner because she’s in a situation she can’t control and she wishes her parents were still married. There have been times she’s wanted me to come get her, but that’s incredibly disrespectful to her father — that is his time with her and they need to work things out.
I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to play that game with my daughter. I love her dearly, and all it does is stir the pot and cause unnecessary drama. Her father’s girlfriend treats her like gold and has taken such good care of all my kids. What happens in their home is their business, and I feel confident saying that because I know my ex is fair and puts his kids first.
Now, I realize not every situation is like ours and there are plenty of women out there who deal with an ex who isn’t like mine and who brings people into their kids’ lives that shouldn’t be there.
What I’m saying, though, is that just because my boyfriend’s daughter decides she wants me around sometimes, and there are times when she doesn’t, isn’t reason enough for me to let her know I feel sad or hurt — which I do, because I’m human.
But because I’m the adult, I keep it to myself.
I never want her to hear me bad-mouth her mother because, holy fuck, that’s her mother and that’s not what you do. There’s enough drama over the situation without me squeezing lighter fluid into the fire.
My boyfriend’s ex doesn’t know me, and I don’t know her. What I do know is that the person who matters the most in this situation is their daughter. And over the years, I’ve learned and preached about supporting women. Who would I be if I lashed back?
I’m not saying it’s easy to keep my mouth shut; of course there have been times I’ve wanted to go rogue.
But I don’t, because my feelings being pricked by another woman could never justify the kind of behavior that could do damage to that precious girl. I don’t want to add an extra layer of tension. Kids who have gone through divorce have been through enough.