Dipping my toes in the dating world with teenagers was going to be a piece of cake. Or so I thought. I remember the moment I agreed to go on my first date; I figured since my ex-husband was already seeing someone, and my kids were up in their rooms or with friends most of the time and wanted nothing to do with me, they probably wouldn’t give a damn what their mother did.
I figured since they had such a large life of their own without me, I should start getting one myself.
I also thought since they were over the temper tantrum stage and able to be left alone for a few hours dating would just be… easier.
However, getting into a new relationship and falling in love with someone other than your child’s father always brings its own set of challenges.
For me, it was a long time before I introduced my kids to anyone — three years to be exact. I’d had one relationship and dated two men exclusively but never felt a pull to introduce them to my children because I wanted to make sure they would be around for a while after I did that.
I know now that I did this just as much for myself as I did for my kids. I wasn’t ready to share the new life we’d built for the past few years with anyone else. It felt too young, fresh, and really vulnerable.
When I did meet — and fall in love with — the man I’m with now, I knew after a few months he would meet my kids.
We had a lot in common. We were the same age which meant a lot of fun ‘80s and ‘90s memories to talk about. We both love the same restaurants, music, and have the same core values. The cherry on top was he had a teenage daughter who was the exact age as my teenage daughter. As soon as I met her I thought, She and my daughter will be inseparable! I know it!
That was well over a year ago and I can tell you that’s not how it went down at all. They are both teenagers who share the same style and their personalities are so much alike it kills me. They both adore hair and makeup products. They are both shy and can be anxious in social situations. The thing that shocks me is sometimes I look at my boyfriend’s daughter and she looks and acts so much like my daughter I think they could be sisters.
I figure she’d get along with my other kids too. After all, the first day I spent time with her she told me she wished she had brothers and sisters and was looking forward to getting to know them.
The fact of the matter is, they aren’t up for more siblings. My children don’t really want much to do with her and she feels the same. They are cordial and tolerate each other when we get both of our families together (which is very rare because it’s so forced and tense), but it’s obvious no one wants to be hanging out together.
She has accused her father of loving his “new family” more than her when she’s seen texts he’s sent my daughter.
My kids put up a fight every time I’d propose doing anything all together, so I stopped.
At first I had a really hard time with this. But after taking a step back, I put myself in their shoes. I realized when I was a teenager, it would have been pretty hard for me to befriend my parents new partner’s kids.
I had very different visions for us and never once thought they wouldn’t be excited to hang out with each other but here we are. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but if they don’t want to make room for each other in their lives, I can’t force it.
There was a time when it made me doubt my relationship and I wondered if I was doing the right thing for my kids by bringing someone into their life who had a child they really didn’t care for.
Then I remembered we all have free will, kids are resilient, and they could deal with this.They love my boyfriend and have fun with him. As long as they are polite to his daughter, I am fine and my boyfriend said he’s fine too.
We both agree our kids get to choose their friends. They get to choose who they spend their time with. And that in no way measures how good or bad our relationship is.
I am allowed to move on and fall in love. That doesn’t mean it has to be a damn Hallmark movie where everyone is shiny and happy all the time.
If you are a mom with kids who is dating someone else with kids, they might not like each other. There will be feelings of struggle and jealousy. They might not be able to process all the new changes going on, at least not right away, and that is okay.
Perhaps down the road things will change. In the meantime, I am going to focus on my relationship with my kids, my relationship with my partner, and my relationship with his daughter.
These things are allowed to be separate. If and when they come together a bit more, I will be ready … but for now, I’m letting go of all expectations and accepting what is.