Remember last week when I introduced Girlfriend, our new regular guest blogger, who tells it like it is in her brand spankin’ new I’m Not Married But… column on Man, Wife, and Dog Blog? Well here’s her latest installment – enjoy!
There comes a point when you grow older when you suddenly realize that vow you made never to date a divorced man or one with kids becomes somewhat difficult. After the age of 30 there’s usually a reason why a man has never been married or in a serious relationship and it’s likely not a good one. In my case, I met the Boyfriend and immediately wrote him off because he had in fact been married and had two small children. He in turn did the same with me, realizing I wasn’t the type to focus my energies on someone who in his mind had large amounts of baggage (all of which having to do with an ex-wife who doesn’t exactly function on a rational or mature playing field).
But circumstances as they were, we ended up making a go of it and a year and a half later we still are. Usually his former marriage is a non-issue, but it sometimes becomes frustrating for me when I realize while I’ve made an investment in him, my investment in his children is weak at best. Let me backtrack by saying while it goes against my mothering nature, most of this is intentional on my part: I don’t think it’s fair to either of them to play a significant role in their lives until daddy puts a ring on it. (Mommy is the type of person who defines her value by having a man in her life and has lead them down a bumpy road wherein they’ve been moved three times with her in the last year and were instructed to call her last boyfriend’s daughter their “stepsister” after four months of dating.)
To me that’s just too much emotional damage no child should have to deal with, so I’m happy being “daddy’s friend” for the time being just to keep things clear and consistent for them. But it gets REALLY rough when I see her doing things like this and having no voice in the matter. Much like a grandmother, godparent or favorite aunt, it’s not my place to get involved, to vent my frustrations or to antagonize an already difficult situation. At least when you’re married and take on a stepmother role the lines are clearly defined; when you’re the girlfriend you ARE the unofficial non-entity. No matter how sweet I think they are or how much I want to be a positive force in their lives, my role is currently a limited one at best.
Having watched many of my mom’s friends struggle as single parents, I often try to give his ex the benefit of the doubt, but this becomes harder and harder as time goes by. I see the Boyfriend upset because the kids didn’t call him on Father’s Day or his birthday, or aren’t allowed to speak to him because it’s dinner/bedtime/ they’re busy/otherwise engaged. Being too young to manage these things themselves, she holds all the power and I’m powerless to help or intervene in any way.
Sometimes I miss the days when my only worry was whether or not my childless, unmarried significant others were being distant or weren’t giving me enough time and attention. When you factor in ex-wives and extended family members the opportunity for drama increases ten-fold. The Wife often says it’s not easy being married — I often retort that it’s not easy being the girlfriend that’s expected to step into a “wifely” role but gets none of the perks or respect that goes along with it. Yes, I always have a present ready for every holiday and birthday, but a part of me wishes I could be the strong female role model in their lives that teaches them to respect themselves, encourages their independence and ultimately fosters the notion that blood ties should not be the only thing that ultimately defines the people who love them and have their best interests at heart.
Are you falling for his kids before he’s put a ring on it? Do you feel like the lines are blurred?