Old family vs. New family

This is something I do not have a lot of experience in – actually no first hand experience at all. The old family vs the new family. The dynamic of family when it comes to biological children and step-children.

My parents are still married. As a child, all of my friend’s parents were still married, too. Except for one, but her step-father adopted her. So, he was the only dad she knew. In college, I met a woman – she had an awesome family dynamic!! She was on her second marriage – it was also her husband’s second marriage – they both had children from previous relationships and with each other, plus her husband had adopted his step-children during his first marriage and after his divorce he got full custody. The wonderful thing about their family is you can not tell who is a biological child, step child, or bonus child (except by their looks). They are all her children. She is there for all of them. It is a wonderful balance, and I know it has to be hard at times – together they have seven girls. But she is able to make time for each of them. She spends time with all of them as a group, but also individually.

As I said I do not have any first hand experience in this – since my divorce I haven’t had a real relationship with anyone with children. The longest relationship was with the serial cheater, and of course the children (mine nor his) were ever introduced to each other.

I would like to think that I would be able to treat all of the children as if they were my own. But I wonder, would mine want some extra time with me? I figured she would. I would think she would still want that time with her mother, and I would gladly give it to her. She is about to turn thirteen; pretty soon she will be too old to hang out with her mom.

My daughter was seven when I got divorced. However, for two years after our divorce ex and I were still together. Giving myself and my daughter false hope. Of course she wanted her parents to get back together. Every kid wants their parents to be together especially when they are young and don’t know the details, which is fine. I did not want her to know her father was a lying, cheating, abusive person. That is her dad, I wanted her to love and respect him. And I expected him to do the same in return.

When ex started seeing girlfriend – we were still together – so he would sneak around. He would tell my daughter to lie to me. He would take my daughter to girlfriend’s house and then tell her not to tell me about it, not to even mention that he was seeing anyone. Of course, I would catch him in his lies. But I was seeing him except these kids – three girls – as his own, which hurt for two reasons: 1. During our marriage he never wanted more children. He told me he didn’t want to take a chance of the second child being a girl too. He would be the only male in the house and he did not want to have to deal with that much drama and that many hormones. 2. He was stepping up to be girlfriend’s kids’ father (they have fathers. they see they fathers on a regular schedule), but my daughter was getting left in the background. I tried telling him that he was messing up. Asked him to spend time with just his daughter. Him and girlfriend are not married. I think there is nothing wrong with him spending time with just his child.

This past week – ex returned from his deployment last Monday – it has been one piece of drama after another. Time after time, ex has been choosing girlfriend and her kids over his own. Yesterday was another example.

My daughter had cheer last night for a football game. He took my daughter and girlfriend’s kids to a water park an hour away yesterday. Great it is summer take the kids to go swimming, but plan your schedule accordingly. He got back just in time to drop my daughter off so she could warm up with the rest of the squad. She did not have time to shower after the water park, which her eyes looked so painful from the chlorine. I got there thirty minutes before she was supposed to perform – she needed help with her hair and bow. I did not see ex. I called him. He was getting pizza to take to girlfriend’s house. He said he would be back in a few minutes. Okay, fine. So I fixed my daughter’s hair. Took some pictures of her and some of her friends on the squad. I found a seat in the bleachers to wait for her performance. The day before I had told ex that she performed at 6pm. They did, it was a minute before 6pm and they started introducing the football team, the cheerleaders, and then the girls performed. My daughter did an awesome job. The whole time ex is no where to be found. The cheerleaders came off the field, my daughter asks me from the field “where is he?” I told her “I don’t know.” I don’t know what time he actually got to the football field parking lot, but I do know he missed the performance. I do know he sat in his truck with girlfriend’s kids instead of coming into the stadium. He was sitting in the parking lot spending time with him. He finally came into the stadium at 6:23. Really? I watched from my seat, my daughter go up to him and tell him that he missed her perform. I watched him shrug it off as if it was not a big deal. I know to him it was not a big deal. It was a big deal to my daughter. Yes, she has been cheering since third grade, but this is the first year they had to try out to actually make the squad. He avoided me. He sat and talked and laughed with girlfriend’s kids (girlfriend was not there), and he watched the football game.

After the game was over I gave my daughter a hug – I will not see her this weekend, she will be with ex. I asked ex what happened, why did he miss it. He said I don’t know, sorry. I wanted to say “sorry” doesn’t mean anything from you anymore. His “sorry” is as empty as all of his promises. The beauty of divorce I can leave. I can brush off the fact that he is a selfish ass. However, we still have a child together. We still have to co-parent.

After the game I decided to grab something to eat in town. Ironically, ex was at the same place getting food for my daughter – since he, girlfriend, and her kids were going to eat pizza – my daughter does not like pizza. I sent her a text playing around saying “I see you.” She came over and visited with me while I waited for my order to finish. She was upset. I asked her what was wrong. Apparently ex had promised her some ice cream, but when she asked for real food and a milkshake with her meal, ex refused. I was annoyed with ex. He was going to give her ice cream, but refused to after she asked for real food first? He knows she doesn’t eat pizza, what was he expecting her to eat? Selfishness. 100% selfishness.

I worry about my daughter over the weekend. Apparently he is taking her and girlfriend’s kids out of state. I just hope my kid has fun. I hope she is safe. I wish ex would understand that just because he and I are not still a couple, he still has to father his child. I wish he would find a healthy balance with his old family and his new family.

I find myself wondering how is ex going to react and behave if and when I find a man that is willing to step up and show my daughter how a father should behave. How will ex react when my daughter has a positive male role model in her life?

She has already told me that she plans on calling the new man “dad.” — I am not even dating anyone!! She is already thinking about it.

I know it is her choice – if and when I have that positive male in our lives – to call the new man “dad” but how will have effect ex. I know I would be hurt if she called girlfriend “mom” only because I do not think she is a positive female role model. She is just as selfish as ex. I think if there was a positive female in the “step mom” position I would be okay with my daughter calling her “mom.” Honestly, I would love to have that positive relationship where all the adults got along and could be present, speak with one another, and enjoy being around the children.

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