There never was space Part 2

Baby Mama Drama.

 

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Sound familiar? Yep, apparently none of us are immune to it, even when you have zero jealously on your part.

I could understand if I felt insecure about my relationship with my husband, or if I felt like I was somehow not as pulled together as the ex, but folks… that is not the case.

Let’s travel back in time, shall we?

When I first came on the scene, everything was hunky-dory with the future in-laws, as well as with (and again, I hate this term,) the Baby Mama. (Babies include: two biological children, 1 ex-step daughter, and a glam daughter aka grand (non bio.)) In the beginning, she was a little smothering and showed up at the big events. At that time, I was simply being nice and trying to have somewhat of a relationship with her. I thought, “Why not?! It doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Maybe she will like me and I will prove that I am the worthy candidate as a bonus mom.”

Oh how little did I understand.

In classic ENFP style, I go in all smiles and hugs. Positive comments via social media and happy small talk in person. What I didn’t realize was the snake that was just beneath the surface. My husband had warned me that she did not play nice with his second wife and unfortunately, his second wife had snakes in her head. (Southern term for being a little nuts.) Mix the two together and you end up with an explosive situation. That was short-lived and everything since had gotten back to normal.

What I didn’t realize is normal meant the ex was embedded with the family. When I say embedded, I mean she is at most family functions, chats on the phone with all of them frequently, and was still receiving financial support from his mom.

*sigh*

But I let it go. No family is perfect and lord knows, I am not one to judge. I tried to tell myself, “Maybe this is normal. Maybe this is how it is.

You see, I never had kids. Most of my friends did not have children – we chose careers instead. I had heard a few dramatic tales, but for the most part, if one of my friends had a kid, they had one early and the father was not really all that involved, so there was very little of this drama. Of course, I saw things on television and in movies, but never expected it to happen to me.

Well… it did.

Reason #2 I have a private FB page and I am isolating myself lately:The Ex aka Baby Mama Drama. 

I could very easily share with you, dear reader, all of the nasty tid-bits about her. It’s fairly common knowledge about her extra-marital affairs and other dalliances, but that should not matter. That would be character assignation and I am not trying to say she shouldn’t be in her children’s life. (Though…. ) What I want to share is this loyalty thing with the family that I do not understand.

First of all, my MIL still has a relationship with the ex, which totally makes sense. Sometimes the kids need to be shuffled here and there (but let’s remember, they are now 25, 18, and 17 and all have cars.) There is a little less of this needed, but for whatever reason, they still communicate. When you speak with the MIL, she typically trashes the ex. At first, I thought that we all felt the same, but were faking things for the sake of the kids. We all agreed that she had loose morals and was not exactly the role model young girls needed. Everyone in the family did this, so… I thought we were in the clear.

THEN things started to shift when the ex’s oldest daughter (non-bio kid,) moved in with my MIL. She brought with her a baby and her husband. Mind you, both have full-time jobs, but they felt they could save money by living with my MIL. (And save money they do! She foots the bill for most things.)

This shifted the power a little. Now the ex has a reason to visit more often, her daughter and grand daughter live under the same roof as my MIL. Sticky sitch if you get my drift. 

Slowly but surely, as the bio mom/ex starts sifting through partners (oh there are many swinging d*cks coming to the family dinner table. But again… I’m trying not to be petty…)

While this is happening and her life unravels before our eyes, my sweet guy and I are going strong. We got married, built the house, and I continued to succeed at work. We created a stable home life for the girls and followed all of the rules. Not that it mattered.

The ex kept showing up at Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas morning… and of course we have to share birthdays (or do we?!) She and her flavor of the month would even head to the beach house (alone,) for romantic weekends. Personally, I thought this was the most disrespectful thing his mother could have allowed. There are other bits that involve others, but really, what is the point writing it out? It is what it is.

And folks… it is never going to change. 

Recently, there was an opportunity for our family to attend an event at Robins Air Force Base. I was super excited because it is something my family did often while growing up. My dad is an Air Force vet and his love of the Thunderbirds and all things Air Force is something I really admired growing up. My dad has been battling Prostate Cancer and I wanted to meet up with him and we enjoy this – create a lasting memory for ourselves. I asked Tim if we could bring the girls with us. I wanted to share something with them, something that would bond them with my family. A bonding that has been MIL blocked since Tim & I got together. They have never in the five years we have been together been to their home. Of course, the youngest chose to hang out with her cousin and not go with us and the oldest chose to hang with us. I figured this would be how it would end up. It was the 18-year-old’s birthday and we had a blast, but due to a series of unfortunate events, we missed the wrong shuttle to our parking space, then ended up going the wrong way back home – back home to get to her birthday party the ex was putting together at a restaurant. Needless to say, everyone was mad at us for causing an hour or so delay. I tried to be the bigger person and apologize for the stuff happening and the ex basically tried to put me in my place.

Now folks… I am very confrontational and it took everything I had not to rip her a new one. Little did I know, the whole fam was backing her and speaking negatively about us at the restaurant while we were not there.

I was done. Five years of putting up with this mess and I was D-O-N-E. Post debacle, I learned so many things about this family’s dynamics. I learned that they often speak ill of me and find me to be “snobby” or act as if I am better than them. They said other things about me, however, I am not aware of the specifics… and maybe that is best. (I know this because the kids told us.)

The principle of the matter with this situation is the fact that they sided with the ex (and you guys KNOW she was just WAITING for me to slip up and react,) and left Tim and I standing there with egg on our face.

Obviously there is so much more to this… and there are tons of holes, but let’s just say I’ll keep some of that to myself. The best thing that came out of this is: I now know where I stand with the MIL and the non-bio daughter and ex. They are thick as thieves and do not have my best interest at heart. They have never desired a healthy relationship with me, and based on their personalities, would rather swim and play with drama.

That is not my style. 

I cut the toxic out.

But remember, I still have to co-parent with this witch. So how do I do it and not claw her eyes out?

I found an article on Paired Life titled: Baby Mama Drama & Dealing With Your Man, His Ex, & Their Child

Some of the advise they gave is pretty good. I don’t know if you are going through some of this or if you know of someone else that is. But here is a little insight in what we are up against:

The article goes on to say-

  • Oftentimes the baby mama has no boundaries. She does this on purpose, to make you uncomfortable. (Check!)
  • She is nosy. She may even get way too personal with her questions and start asking you things that make you feel uncomfortable. (All. The. Time.)
  • She says negative things about you to others: Instead of talking to you directly, she goes behind your back and tries to turn others against you. She focuses on negative things or just makes things up to make you look bad in front of her children. (Double check.)
  • She gets too close & too personal with your man. Which this one does – she constantly tries to stay in contact with him. (Poor Tim, he roles his eyes and refuses to play into it, but boy oh boy does she push. )
  • She always brings up the past: When you are around her, she always talks about her time with your man. She does this out of jealousy and to make you feel insecure about your relationship with her ex. (In my case, she does it with the family and me around. Constantly proving how tight they were.)
  • She blames you for her problems. (Yep!)

All of these things hit home. But what can you do about it?

They recommend a few basics:

  • Be respectful (even when it is easier to slide down to her level)
  • Understand your role. I am not responsible for the children in the same way that he and the other woman are. I must understand my role to play in all of this and respect the boundaries established by the baby mama. Don’t try to be a second mother to the child. Instead, just try to build a solid relationship with the kid. (Which I believe I am good with and have tried to do.) Who knows what it looks like to outsiders.
  • Finally, they recommend making your feelings clear. Which I have. Agreed upon boundaries have been set (With Tim & I when it comes to her.)

Basically, I won’t be at something she is going to be at, because she does not have my best interest at heart. I will go to graduations and other big things, but we do not have to sit with her (like we have in the past.) We will not attend holidays that she will be attending at his mother’s house. We will not allow the petty drama into our home. Her name is off limits when the kids are around. We will just do us and remember that we really only have 1 & 1/2 more years to get through. Child support will be over in June 2021 and the kids will be off and enjoying life.

As for the the MIL’s house and the ex-step living there… well, that’s another piece of the puzzle. I will continue to set healthy boundaries and not get caught up in their gossip, drama, and petty conclusions.

Man oh man has this transition been a tough one down here. At the end of the day, I have a difficult and strained relationship with the MIL, a non-trusting relationship with the ex-step kid, and a hands off relationship with the baby mama. As for the rest of the his family, we are all “fine.” Neutral. No bad blood, but no real bonds yet. Five years in.

Thank goodness my guy is super supportive and a good man!

Until next time…

There was never space PART 1

It is never easy coming into a new family. I don’t care how fantastic your in-laws are, the initial acceptance is always a little tricky. It is one of the few times in your life when you will question everything from the way you were brought up to every single stupid decision you have made over the past ten years. Ugh…

Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

For the most part, I’ve always gotten along with in-laws or my boyfriend-at-the-time’s family. Sure, there were quirky characters scattered here and there on the relationship road, but at the end of the day, I had very few scrapes and bruises.

I recently came across an article in Psychology Today that has really made a difference for me in dealing with my current situation. This situation is one that is causing a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration for me, my husband, and the kids. It has to do with the in-laws. (Not all of them, mind you.)

The article is titled: Parents-In-Law Don’t Want to Play Nice? How to deal with your in-laws’ objections. It explains how to set healthy boundaries and to be perfectly honest with you, it sort of validated what I thought we should be doing. The question is… is it too late?

They recommend that you do not budge one inch when it comes to the decisions you make. In our situation, my husband and I are treated like children unable to make decisions for ourselves, and I assure you, I have been living my life just fine for 42 years prior to meeting his family. I find when people try to control behaviors and alliances, it is a sign of insecurity and a need to be in control – to keep you in check.

The next thing they recommend is to remember that we are the authority of our family. This I have no problem making happen, however, my husband is typically more of “go along to get along.” Our kids tend to spend more time with my in-laws and less time doing family activities with us. It is no wonder true bonding hasn’t taken place. We are put in a situation where my husband does not want to “make waves” with his mother and the others, so he lets his kids do whatever they want with the other family members, sometimes with no regard to any plans we may have made.

Then they recommend putting the in-laws in their place. I almost started laughing when I read that. Here again, if you know me, I have no problem putting anyone in their place, but in this case, it would isolate my husband from his family and that is NOT what I want. That one is a little tricky. I suppose being consistently firm on tolerated behavior is the key here.

Then the article suggests that you re-evaluate your boundaries. This is something I did about two years ago. I went to therapy for anxiety and uncovered it was my living situation. My husband and I were living in the family cabin on the family farm. We spent many nights and afternoons with his extended family and to be perfectly honest, it was smothering. We changed our eating schedule and did more things just the two of us, versus all of us. Then we moved in the house we built and this was a nice 9 mile padding.

The next suggestion is to keep your distance. THIS I think is important for me. Let me explain why: The loyalty is not there. The loyalty is with the first wife (the baby mama.. which I hate that term and feel it is trashy, but it fits her.) They constantly look and compare us. I believe you get a green light on behavior if you pop out a few kids, which I did not. Therefore, every move I make is evaluated. Every facial expression is dissected, and every word I utter is twisted to fit their dysfunctional needs. The best thing I can do is simply keep a polite distance to keep the peace. Show up at the big things, put on my vest of protection, and smile.

The next tip is a good one: Only spend time with your MIL if your spouse is present. I think this goes without saying.

I never considered the next tip, and that is to only meet on neutral territory. According to the article, “This gives you more control over the situation, and can help to keep their behavior in check. Your in-laws aren’t able to call the shots as easily in public as they can when under their roof. You’re also less vulnerable in not being a guest in their home.”

And it goes on to say things like: Don’t accept help or loan items, don’t involve other family members (like the kids, his sister & partner, etc.,) to evaluate how your spouse is handling the situation (which is something we are working on,) and finally to remind each other how you feel about one another.

The last two is exactly where we are at. By setting these new boundaries, some feelings got hurt and a mirror was held up to all involved. We have an ex-step daughter (who sees Tim as her father,) constantly stirring up drama via social media and gossip. He called her out on some of this and as expected, she reacted poorly. It made him feel terrible and he has spent many weeks since feeling bad, but also realizing he needed to put a stop to it. And finally, we are trying to remind each other that in the coming decade or two, it will just be us and to remember why we chose each other to grow old together and not let the behavior of others taint something so beautiful.

It is tough folks – dealing with people who may or may not have the skills or self awareness to make changes or see what is actually happening. It is also easy for people with very little outside activity in their life to want to spread gossip. Sticky situation all around.

At the end of the day, I wanted nothing more than to have a happy, healthy relationship with his family. I was hoping that when I left my family, friends, and safety net that I would be welcomed with open arms into a new family. They are so tight knit, I thought how beautiful this new situation would be. Yes, they are generous (financially,) because they can be, but there are emotional strings attached. No, I am not always included in plans and when I am there, it is as if I am just another guest. When I try to share my life by inviting them over or inviting them to see some things important to me, they have reasons or excuses not to participate. *Sigh*

So you see….  something has got to give.

More to come….